ArchiveJanuary 2004

Stress Free Entertaining

I have just started to write a book on Entertaining, there will be lots of easy stress free menus to encourage everyone to invite around the pals on a more regular basis.

Don’t get excited yet, it will be at least a year before it hits the shops. 
Meanwhile I am having fun testing recipes for one-pot dishes which may or may not make it to the book, but are yummy, delicious, and just the sort of comforting food one feels like tucking into on an evening in February.
By a long way the most stressful way to entertain is the formal dinner party, particularly if you get involved in cooking meat and two veg and lots of bits which need alteration at the last minute.
Thought not suitable for every occasion, a repertoire of stews, casseroles and pies are invaluable for stress free entertaining. They also have the advantage of being pretty substantial so you may dare to skip the first course and just pass around a few simple tapas with drinks. Next week I will give recipes for some of our favourites but in this article I am concentrating on main courses.

Some can be made ahead, others like risotto can be made casually in the kitchen
while your friends are sipping a glass of wine enjoying the free cooking lesson. Keep it casual, if you can feel cool and unflurried your guests will be equally relaxed and everyone will leave a fun time. A flustered host or hostess ensures that everyone is on edge and after all its only a dinner party so chill!

Beef & Chorizo Stew

Serves 6-8

1 tablesp. extra virgin olive oil
200g (7oz) chorizo sausage, sliced (2 sausages approx.)
1kg (2lb) stewing beef, organic if possible, cut into 3 cm (1¼ inch) cubes
2 large onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablesp.flour
2 tablesp. tomato puree
½ teasp. paprika
1 teasp. thyme leaves
4 tablesp. dry sherry
250ml (8 fl.oz/1 cup) red wine
250ml (8 fl.oz/1 cup) beef, chicken or vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy casserole over medium heat. Add the sliced chorizo and cook until the oil begins to run, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the chorizo and set aside in a bowl. Increase the heat, add the beef to the pot and fry off in batches until sealed and well browned . If the pan is over-crowded the meat will stew rather than brown. Remove the beef from the pot and put in the bowl with the chorizo. 
Add the onion to the pot (adding extra oil if required), and cook, stirring until golden and just starting to brown at the edges. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two 
Stir in the flour and cook for another minute. Add the tomato puree, paprika and thyme and cook for a few seconds. Then return the chorizo and beef to the pot. Stir everything well, then add the sherry and wine, bring to simmering point, then add the hot stock or water. Cover and simmer gently until the meat is tender, about 1½ hours. We prefer to cook it in a pre-heated oven, 160c/325F/gas 3. Season cautiously, but taste first because if the sausage is salty you many not need any additional salt, just some freshly ground pepper. Serve scattered with roughly chopped parsley. Scallion Champ or Colcannon make a yummy accompaniment.

Chicken in Basil and Coconut Broth

Serves 4 -6

175g (6oz) flat rice noodles
400ml (14 fl.ozs) tin of coconut milk – Chaokah brand
500ml (16fl.ozs/2 cups) home-made chicken stock
1 heaped tablesp. grated fresh ginger
1 fresh red chilli, finely sliced
1 teasp. freshly ground coriander
1 -2 tablesp. fish sauce, nam pla
4 organic chicken breasts, boned and skinned

1 handful of fresh basil leaves.

Fresh coriander leaves

Bring a saucepan of water to a fast rolling boil, add the noodles, stir well to keep separate. Boil for 3-5 minutes, depending on size, they should be tender but still firm. Drain and rinse immediately under cold water. Cut the noodles into ¾ inch (2cm) lengths. Leave in the colander until you are ready to serve the soup.
Put the coconut milk, stock, ginger, chilli, coriander and fish sauce into a saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat just to keep it barely bubbling.
Cut the chicken breasts across into 2mm (one-eighth inch) slices. Add the sliced chicken to the broth and cook very gently until it changes colour and is just cooked through, 4-5 minutes approx. Adjust the seasoning, add a little extra fish sauce if necessary. Throw in the basil and leave to stand for 5 minutes while you reheat the noodles.
Bring a kettle of water to the boil and pour the boiling water over the noodles in the colander. Drain the noodles well.
Warm 4-6 wide deep bowls, divide the noodles between them. Top with chicken and ladle over the hot coconut broth. Serve at once scattered with fresh coriander. Eat with chopsticks and Chinese soup spoons, otherwise use a fork and spoon.

Italian braised Lamb and Tomato Stew

Serves 6
A gutsy stew made with inexpensive and delicious shoulder of lamb, flavoured with sage, rosemary and bay leaves.

extra virgin olive oil – 2-3 tablesp.
3lbs (1.3kg) shoulder of lamb chops, 1½ inches (4cm) thick
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teasp. each finely chopped sage and rosemary
4 fl.ozs (125ml) dry white wine
1 x 14oz (400g) tin tomatoes
salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar
2 bay leaves 

Cut the lamb into manageable pieces. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan, brown the pieces of lamb a few at a time. Don’t overcrowd the pan or it will stew rather than brown. Transfer to a plate. Add the garlic and freshly chopped herbs to the sauté pan. Stir, add the wine and allow to bubble for a few minutes to burn off the alcohol. Chop the tomatoes and add with their juice. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar.
Finally return the lamb to the pan with the bay leaves. Bring to simmering point and then continue to cook at a slow simmer or transfer to a heated oven 150C/300F/gas 2 for 1-1¼ hours, or until the meat is meltingly tender. Cover the sauté pan but leave the lid slightly ajar to allow the liquid to slightly evaporate and concentrate. Stir every 15 or 20 minutes and if the sauce evaporates too much just add a little water.
Taste and correct seasong. Serve with soft mashed potato. 
In Italy this is served alone or followed by a green salad.

Lamb and Medjool Date Tagine, Herbed Couscous

by Merrilees Parker
Serves 6-8

2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp each ground coriander and turmeric
2 tsp each ground cinnamon and cumin
2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
1.5kg/3lb 5oz lamb shoulder, well trimmed and cut into 4cm/11/2in chunks
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2.5cm/1in piece peeled root ginger, chopped
3 onions, roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
600ml/1 pint tomato juice
600ml/1 pint lamb or chicken stock
2 tbsp clear honey
225g/8oz Medjool dates, cut in half and stones removed
For the Couscous
350g/12oz medium couscous 
juice of 2 lemons 
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
600ml/1 pint chicken stock
4 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley and mint
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Greek style yoghurt and fresh coriander leaves, to garnish

Mix together the paprika, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin and pepper in a large bowl, then tip half into a small bowl and set aside. Add the lamb to the large bowl and coat in the spices. Cover with clingfilm and chill overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325F/170C/Gas 3. Place the garlic, ginger and onions into a food processor and pulse until finely minced. Heat a large heavy-based casserole. Add half of the oil and brown off the marinated lamb in batches. Add the remaining oil to the pan and then add the onion mixture cook for a few minutes until softened but not coloured. Stir in the reserved spice mixture and cook for another minute or so until well combined.

Pour the tomato juice and stock into the pan and then add the honey, stirring to combine. Bring to the boil, cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 1 hour, then stir in the dates and cook for another hour until the lamb is completely tender and and sauce has thickened and reduced. Season to taste.

To make the couscous; place it in a large bowl and add four tablespoons of the oil and the lemon juice. Mix well ensuring that all the grains are completely coated. Heat the stock in a small pan and season generously. Pour over the couscous and allow to sit in a warm place for 6-8 minutes until all the liquid has absorbed, stirring occasionally. To serve, stir in the remaining oil and the herbs into the couscous and arrange on plates with the tagine. Finally garnish with a dollop of the Greek yoghurt and coriander leaves. 

Andalusian Shellfish Stew

Serves 6

Extra virgin olive oil – about 6 tablespoons
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 onions, chopped
1 large red pepper
1 large green pepper
salt and freshly ground pepper
½ teasp. saffron
waxy potatoes
4 ozs (110g) Serrano ham, diced*
2 pints approx. (1.2L) fish stock
1 can butter beans (14oz/400g)
4 lb (1.8kg) cockles or mussels, or a mixture

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a wide sauté pan, add the chopped onion and garlic and sweat until soft and slightly coloured, add the sliced peppers. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Put the saffron into a cup, cover with a little fish stock. Add the diced potato, butter and the Serrano ham to the pan.
Cover with fish stock, add the saffron and the soaking liquid. Taste and correct the seasoning. Continue to cook until the potatoes are cooked. This stew can be prepared ahead to this point.*
Just before serving return to the heat, add the well washed cockles or mussels. They will open in the heat. Taste and correct the seasoning. Serve in deep soup bowls.

Banana and Yoghurt Smoothie

For a speedy breakfast or an energy boost any time of the day.
Serves 1-2

8 flozs (250ml/1 cup) natural yoghurt
1 ripe banana
1 teaspoon honey (optional)
8 ice-cubes

Peel the banana, chop coarsely, blend with other ingredients in a liquidizer until smooth.
Pour into glasses and serve immediately.

Hot Tip

World’s Top Trainee Sommelier
Eoin Moynihan from Baltimore, a 21 year old first year catering management student from Cork Institute of Technology has been selected to compete in the National Final of the search for Ireland’s top trainee wine waiter. The event takes place in Dublin next February with the winner going forward to represent Ireland in the International competition for the World’s Top Trainee Sommelier. 

Ballymaloe Weekend Wine Course with Mary Dowey 12-14th March –
Master all the key grape varieties, learn how to recognise quality, find about serving, storage, wise buying, new trends and much more. Weekend packages available at Ballymaloe House. Tel. 021-4652531

Finca Buen Vino

Every now and then I come across a really special place, a gem so special that I have mixed feelings about revealing its whereabouts . Should I write about it or will I keep this discovery all to myself. What if gets unbearably busy, expands, loses its magic?
Pink washed Finca Buen Vino emerges out of the oak and chestnut woods at the end of a winding country avenue, in the middle of the Sierra de Aracena Nature Reserve in Andalucia in Spain. We had travelled since before dawn to get to Seville, rented a car, followed the map painstakingly and eventually turned off at the 95km sign on the road between Seville and Aracena.
We arrived close to midnight, almost too tired to eat, but the warm and spontaneous welcome revived us almost immediately. Jago and Sam carried our bags upstairs, a huge fire crackled on the hearth in the drawing room, Bucket and Teaser rubbed up against our legs. Would we like a whisky or how about a little bowl of soup? We had a delicious leek and potato soup with homemade breads, a selection of Spanish farmhouse cheeses – a Cabrales, Manchego, a creamy melting Torto wrapped in its traditional band of lace and and the famous Tetilla.
We arrived in the dark so couldn’t wait to draw back the curtains when we eventually woke the following morning. The view across the hills, thickly wooded with sweet chestnut and cork oak was spectacular, here and there are olive groves, walnut trees and orchards of plums, peaches and figs. Wild rocky escarpments are covered in cistus and tree heathers. Stone walled mule tracks meander from village to hamlet, perfect for walking or riding.
Breakfast is in the dining room or conservatory between 9-11, thick unctuous home-made yoghurt, local honey and crunchy granola, dried fruit, homemade jam and Seville orange marmalade, freshly squeezed orange juice, lots of hot toast and bacon with eggs from their own hens. The tea comes from India – the coffee a very good Spanish brand. 
After Sam and Jeannie Chesterton were married in Scotland, they left for Spain where Sam had been living in a remote candlelit cottage. Drawing on their experience of running shooting lodges in the Highlands, they wanted to make their home in a wild yet accessible place of great natural beauty; there to receive guests, enjoy conversation, good food and genial company, and to raise their family in unspoiled surroundings. After six months they discovered Finca Buen Vino set amid 150 acres of woodland in the Huelva area of South Western Spain and started to build their dream..
A happy combination of Latin and Anglo-Saxon influences, the house is filled with an eclectic mix of furniture, paintings, pottery and books. There are five bedrooms reserved for guests, all are charming and distinctive whether due to hand-painted walls, oriental hangings, a bath tub with a view or a fireplace.
The small, winter dining-room is pine-panelled and entirely candlelit, and dinner is eaten together with fellow guests. Sometimes neighbours come in to join the guests for dinner. There are huge log fires, and cosy rooms which make one feel at home. It was beautiful in December but I’ve been told that in Spring, the valley below the house is filled with white heathers, primroses and the song of nightingales. In summer one can dine late under the stars, while the crickets chirp and the jasmine unfurls its scent. 
Tapas are served approximately an hour before dinner, to keep the wolf at bay! Most weekend nights there is a village fiesta to go to nearby. Summer days can be spent beside the spectacular pool; with advance notice they can serve a barbecue lunch at the poolhouse. Drinks are available at the poolhouse or the conservatory. One can just help oneself and fill in the bar book and pay at the end of one’s stay.
For me the whole experience was even more exciting because I could at last learn first hand about the rearing of the famous black pigs and the production of Pata Negra, the finest cured ham in the world. The village of Jubugo, famous for the production of jamon, is just a few miles from Buen Vino, but there was no need to venture that far because Sam and Jeannie’s pigs were gorging on the acorns under the corn oaks. Sam cures the hams himself, slowly and painstakingly in the time-honoured way. We ate slivers of jamon with salted almonds, delicious Aracena potato crisps and ? for tapas every evening, never tiring of the exquisite flavour. 
We donned our walking boots and walked across the hills to Linares de Sierra, a little village with narrow cobbled streets and patterned stone mats outside every house. In the little central square the village ladies washed their clothes in a communal well, chatting contentedly in a wonderfully relaxed and convivial way, may not be everyone’s cup of tea but infinitely more sociable than flinging the laundry into the washing machine. We had a delicious simple lunch at the local Los Arieros restaurant. Several memorable dishes including ijado al aceite – very thinly sliced pigs liver, cooked with sweated onion and extra virgin olive oil, tiny vol au vents with black pudding mousse and fresh mint, succulent pigs trotters and quese del cabra con miel. The latter can be easily reproduced at home using a soft Irish goat cheese like Ardsallagh. 
We did another 6 hour walk through breathtakingly beautiful terrain. We stopped for lunch of jamon, salsichon and local cheese in the village pub in Cortelazor. This part of rural Spain is totally unspoilt, the people are friendly and welcoming – the food honest and delicious.
Sam and Jeannie also have 3 tranquil cottages in the wood, each with its own swimming pool, an idyllic spot for a peaceful holiday. Even though its deep in the countryside there’s lots to keep one occupied. If you crave urban adventure the city of Seville is just an hour and a quarter away – however be warned, you may become so relaxed that you might never venture out.
We eagerly looked forward to every meal – Jeannie is a wonderful cook, here are just some of her recipes. She and Sam offer a series of cooking classes at intervals throughout the year with trips to see the Sherry being made, the historic sights of Seville, cathedral, gardens, shops – check out their website for more tempting details of the itinerary.  

Buenvino Ginger Custards
Serves 8

250g (8ozs) fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
900ml (1½ pints/33 cups) cream
4 ozs (110g) castor sugar
6 eggs
2 pieces preserved ginger, drained and diced

8 x 7.5cm (3 inch) ramekin dishes

Preheat oven to 140C/275F/ gas 1

Put the ginger into a saucepan, cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and then drain.
Put the cream and sugar and sliced ginger into a saucepan, bring to the shivery point. Turn off the heat and leave to infuse for an hour or more. Separate the eggs, put the yolks in a bowl (keep the whites for another purpose).
Whisk the yolks in the bowl, strain the ginger-infused cream onto the egg yolks, whisking all the time.
Put the ramekins into a bain-marie and fill with the custard. Cook for approx. 40 minutes or until just set.
Serve at room temperature or chilled. Sprinkle with a little dice of preserved ginger and sugar. 

Jeannie Chesterton’s Lamb with Coffee & Chocolate

1 leg of organic lamb

4 cloves of garlic
2 sprigs of rosemary
olive oil
sea salt
1 pint coffee
1 oz (25g) dark chocolate (minimum 60% cocoa solids)

deep ovenproof dish

Have your butcher debone a leg of organic lamb. Fill the inside with 4 crushed cloves of garlic and a good sprig or two of rosemary. Put the lamb into a deepish ovenproof dish, rub the top with olive oil and then sprinkle with a mixture of rock salt, and a teaspoonful of the following freshly ground spice mix; pepper, pimiento, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric and cloves. (It’s worth keeping a little electric coffee grinder for this, but needs a regular wipe out afterwards or the oils in the spices can cause corrosion.)
Pour 1 pint of coffee around the lamb and roast in a moderately hot oven 15 mins to the lb.
Take the lamb out, and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Add 1 oz of good (minimum 60% cocoa solids) dark chocolate, and work into the sauce over heat. Carve the lamb into slices and add any blood/juice which comes out to the sauce. Place on a hot serving dish and poor the sauce over.


Quesa de Cabra con Miel – Goat Cheese with Honey on Toast

We ate this at the local restaurant in Los Arieros in Andalucia
1 slice of sour dough or yeast bread
soft goat cheese, eg. Ardsallagh, St. Tola…..
thyme leaves

Toast or chargrill the bread. Cut the slice of toasted bread into strips approx. 1 inch thickness. Reassemble the slice as you transfer it onto a small baking sheet. Top with slices of goat cheese. 
Sprinkle with some fresh thyme leaves and drizzle with honey.
Pop back under the grill until the cheese starts to bubble, serve immediately – so simple but truly delicious.

Jeannie’s Mountain Paella

In Spain one can buy a gas ring specially for cooking paella for a picnic, how wonderful would that be?
Serves 10

Extra virgin olive oil – about 6 tablesp.
2 large onions, chopped
1 large green pepper, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 large red pepper, cut into ½ inch cubes
8 cloves garlic, sliced
2 rabbits, jointed and cut into smallish pieces
1 pork fillet, cut into cubes
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teasp. saffron
1kg (23lb) paella rice aprox. scant 1 cup per person 
frozen peas

paella pan

Put lots of olive oil in the paella pan. Add the garlic, onions and peppers. Cook for 4-5 minutes, then add the rabbit and pork pieces. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Saute for 15 minutes, add 1 teaspoon of saffron and stir around. Add rice , (about 1 cup per person). Add stock to almost cover, stir to blend and then don’t stir again. Add peas (Jeannie says you must have peas in a paella). 
Lots of people use rabbit and prawns but Jeannie prefers to use rabbit and pork. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes because the meat is now almost cooked. Stand over it and move the ingredients around a little. Bring the paella pan to the table . Serve immediately directly from the pan. Fantastic to serve lots of people.

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Foolproof Food

Pears Poached in a Saffron Syrup

Serves 4
Most exotic of all the fruit compotes, pears cooked this way turn a wonderful deep golden colour and are delicately infused with the flavours of saffron and cardamom - two of the world’s most precious spices. We use Conference and Doyenne de Comice pears. This compote is rich and intensely sweet best served well chilled.

100 g (7oz) sugar
450ml (15fl oz) water
6 whole cardamom pods
¼ teaspoon good quality saffron (the threads)
45 ml (3 tablespoons) freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 firm pears

Put the sugar, water, lightly crushed cardamom pods, saffron and lemon juice into a shallow, wide pan: we use a stainless steel saute pan. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile peel the pears, halve and core them. As you cut them put them into the simmering syrup cut side uppermost. 
Cover with a paper lid and the lid of the pan, cook gently for 20-30 minutes, spooning the syrup over them every now and then. Carefully take the pears out and arrange them in a serving dish in a single layer, cut side downwards. Pour the syrup over the pears. Serve chilled.
This compote keeps for several weeks covered in the fridge.
Tip For a more concentrated flavour the syrup may be reduced a little after the pears have been removed to a serving dish. Be careful not to cook it for too long, or the syrup will caramelise.

Sam and Jeannie Chesterton, Finca Buen Vino, Los Marines, 21293 Huelva, Spain.
Tel 00 34 959 12 40 34, fax 00 34 959 50 10 29

Top Tips

Saffron –Known as the world’s most precious spice, immediately one thinks that it costs a fortune, but its so potent and aromatic one uses very little. Jeannie stressed that it should be used within a year. Avoid the powdered version because its sometimes adulterated, look for saffron strands. Available from Mr. Bell in Cork’s English Market, Health Food Shops, good supermarkets and speciality shops. 

Cookery Schools
Two of our past pupils have recently started cooking schools – Catherine Fulvio at her award-winning Farm Guesthouse, Ballyknocken House in Glenealy, Co Wicklow, Tel 0404-44627,  and Gretchen Oldfield at Woolsgrove Cookery School in Crediton in Devon,  Tel 00 44 1363 85155. Ballymaloe Cookery School courses on line  

The ICA Adult Education College at An Grianan, Termonfeckin, Co Louth have their 2004 brochure now available and cookery features strongly among their wide range of courses – great place for a relaxing break – Tel 041 9822119

The Kilkenny Cookbook

I remember the excitement in the Midlands in the early 60’s when the news filtered through that we were to have a Design Centre in Kilkenny. A few years earlier, the Irish Export Board had invited five eminent Scandinavian designers to come to Ireland to review the design scene. The report was critical of the low levels of design awareness in this country and suggested setting up Design Workshops to develop the crafts industry and to promote better design.
The Craft Workshops were established in the 18th century stables opposite Kilkenny Castle. The beautiful buildings were sensitively restored and Patrick Hillery opened the Kilkenny Design Workshops in April 1963.
Starved of good design and stylish products, we all flocked to Kilkenny to admire and to buy. I fondly remember Rudolf Heltzel’s silverware, Sonia Landweer’s pottery, Helena Ruth’s weaving among many others.
The workshops became a valuable training ground and platform for Irish craftspeople working in many mediums. By 1976, demand for these unique products had grown sufficiently to warrant the opening of a custom built retail outlet in Nassau St. in Dublin. This became the country’s premier showcase for contemporary Irish craft and design. The space also included a restaurant offering fine quality home-made Irish food.
In 1988 the Irish government sold the Kilkenny Design Centre, Nassau St. to Blarney Woollen Mills, a Cork retail company owned by the Kelleher family who took the decision to retain its unique ethos and craft-based identity and remain faithful to the principle that it should showcase high quality crafts from Irish designers.
In July 1999 the store became simply Kilkenny, an independent entity, under the ownership of the sisters Marian O’Gorman and Bernadette Kelleher Nolan, members of the Kelleher family. Under their guidance the Nassau St shop continues to flourish, whilst new Kilkenny shops have been opened in Kilkenny City and Galway.
The café and restaurant offering deliciously wholesome meals soon became an attraction in its own right – a favourite haunt for tourists and locals alike with tantalizing views into the grounds of Trinity College.
This year Kilkenny was awarded Best Breakfast Award for Dublin by Georgina Campbell. Catherine Curran, Manager of the Kilkenny Restaurant in Dublin attributes the popularity of the Café to their wonderful chefs, without whom none of it would have been possible – Annemarie Conway started with Kilkenny at the tender age of seventeen and worked her way up to become Head Chef . Her colleague Cordon Bleu trained Claire Russell has been a member of the team for the past three years, having lived and worked in Spain, Morocco, South Africa and France, she reflects the modern multicultural Ireland.
The Kilkenny Café in Galway was part of a new store opened in 2002 under the direction of chef manager Annette Cook, the creative team of chefs serve a varied menu with traditional Irish and continental influences.
In 2002, some of the Kilkenny Team, along with other food professionals, were involved in tasting and choosing ‘Passionate about Taste’ – Kilkenny’s new speciality delicatessen range.
Most recently, they have collaborated to produce the long-awaited Kilkenny Cookbook, so if you’ve been enjoying their delicious wholesome comforting dishes for many years, you can now discover the secrets – however, I doubt if aficionados will pass up their regular fix of the original.

Chicken and Broccoli Pie
Serves 6
5-6 5-6 chicken fillets
8 potatoes, peeled
440g/14 oz broccoli
1 egg
30g/3 tablesp. flour
75g/3oz butter
500ml/1 pint chicken stock
150ml/5oz milk
150ml/5oz cream
salt and pepper
2 teasp. mustard
½ teasp. nutmeg

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

Cook potatoes until soft. Drain and mash, add salt, hot milk and half the butter. Beat until smooth. Keep warm.
Poach or steam the chicken fillets until well cooked, reserving the stock for the sauce. Cool and cut into bite sized pieces.
Steam broccoli until al dente, drain and refresh under cold water to preserve colour. Break into florets.
Make the sauce; melt the butter, add flour and cook for 1 minute. Add warm stock stirring as it cooks and thickens. Season with salt and pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and mustard. Add the cream. The sauce should be of pouring consistency.
Pour sauce over chicken and broccoli and mix well.
Pipe potatoes on top. Beat egg with 1 teaspoon of water and brush over the potatoes. Bake until bubbling and golden, about 25 minutes.

Spanish Chorizo and Chickpea Soup

Serves 6-8
2 x 400g/8oz can cooked chickpeas, drained
45ml/3 tablesp olive oil
2 leeks sliced thinly or diced
2 onions diced
2 carrots diced
2 sticks celery diced
2 potatoes diced
2 x 400g/8oz can chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 teasp. turmeric (ground)
1 teasp. cumin (ground)
salt and pepper
225g/8oz chorizo sausage diced
1.7l/3 pint chicken stock

Heat oil in a saucepan. Add spices, onions, garlic, leeks, carrots and celery and cook gently for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add chickpeas, potatoes, tomatoes, chorizo sausage and seasoning.
Cover and gently simmer for a further 15 minutes.
It should be thick with vegetables and contain very little liquid.
Serve piping hot with crusty bread.

Gluten-free Scones

Makes about 14 scones
450g/16oz Gluten free flour
50g/2oz granulated sugar
75g/3oz butter
250ml/8 fl.oz milk
3 eggs and 1 egg for glazing

Preheat oven to 200C/400F/gas 6

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together. Add eggs and milk and combine well.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead gently to form a smooth pliable dough.
Roll out to about 2.5cm/1 inch in height. Flour a scone cutter and gently cut out your scones. Place on a baking tray.
Egg wash and bake in oven for 15-20 minutes.

Kilkenny Fish Pie

Serves 6
1 kg/2lbs peeled potatoes
450g/1lb cod
450g/1lb smoked haddock
855ml/1½ pints milk
150g/6oz butter
3 leeks, thinly sliced
1 tablesp. mustard
50g/2oz plain flour
300ml/½ pint dry cider or white wine
1 tablesp. fresh parsley
2 tablesp.lemon juice
200g/8oz baby spinach
3 hard-boiled eggs
50g/2oz chopped dill (reserve a little for garnish)
salt and white pepper

Put cod and haddock in large saucepan and cover with 700ml/13 pints milk. Bring slowly to the boil. Simmer for 8-10 minutes until flesh is just cooked. Remove fish carefully and reserve milk.
In the meantime, cook potatoes until tender, drain well, mash or puree. Add 75g/3oz of butter, salt and pepper to taste. Beat in 140ml/¼ pint of warm milk. Set aside and keep warm. Preheat oven to 190C/375F/gas 5.
Melt butter in large saucepan and add leeks. Cook gently for 5 minutes until soft, then add flour. Cook for 1 minute, stir in cider or wine and then add reserved milk.
Add lemon juice, mustard and parsley. Season to taste. Set aside.
Flake the fish, removing skin and bones. Cut egg into quarters, sauté spinach in a little butter until just wilted.
Put the fish in an ovenproof dish and add the spinach, eggs and dill. Pour over the sauce. Top with the mashed potato. 
To glaze pie:
Beat egg with 1 teaspoon water, using a pastry brush.
Brush egg wash evenly over potatoes and bake for 30 minutes, until topping is crisp and golden. Garnish with fresh dill.

Sticky Toffee Pudding with Sticky Toffee Sauce
Serves 6
175g/6oz prunes or dates
200ml/7oz water
1 teasp bicarbonate of soda
50g/2oz butter
175g/6oz caster sugar
2 eggs beaten
175g/6oz self-raising flour
1 teasp. vanilla essence

The Sauce:

300ml/8fl.oz cream
50g/2oz Demerara sugar
2 teasp. black treacle

You will need a 25cm/10 inch square baking tin, lined with parchment paper.
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas .
Boil dates or prunes in the water for 5 minutes. Add the bicarbonate of soda and keep the fruit in the water. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs and beat well. Add the flour and fold in. Mix in the fruit and water, then pour the mixture into the baking tin. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until just firm to the touch.
While the pudding is cooking, prepare the sauce.
Blend the ingredients together in a saucepan over a low heat stirring until the sauce comes to the boil, remove from the heat and set aside. Cut the pudding into portions and pour on the sauce.
Serve immediately. Can be served with custard, ice-cream or fresh cream.

Apple Tart

This apple tat is very popular in Kilkenny with numerous requests for the recipe.
Serves 6

225g/8oz plain flour
75g/3oz butter, diced
75g/3oz lard, diced
100ml/3fl.oz ice cold water
pinch of salt
30g/2 tablesp granulated sugar
6-8 cooking apples or Granny Smith apples
3 teap. Ginger
3 teasp. Cinnamon
1 pie dish 23cm/9 in wide
1 egg for glazing

Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F/gas 6.

Firstly prepare the pastry; combine sieved flour and salt in bowl. Cut butter and lard into flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add enough iced water to make a pliable dough. 
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Divide in half, wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Peel, core and slice the apples and toss in bowl with cinnamon, ginger and sugar.
Roll out the pastry about 30cm/12 in wide into 2 circles. Lay one circle on pie dish, arrange apples on top. Brush edges with water to seal. Cover with second round and press edges together to trim any excess pastry and crimp edges. Make 3 slits to allow steam to escape.
Brush with egg wash and bake for 30 minutes in the centre of the oven.

Foolproof Food

Fluffy Lemon Pudding

Try this lovely light fresh tasting lemon pudding to sharpen the taste buds after Christmas.
Serves 4-6

This is an old fashioned family pudding which separates into two quite distinct layers when it cooks; it has a fluffy top and a creamy lemon base.

1 oz (30g) butter
6 ozs (170g) castor sugar
2 ozs (55g) flour
2 eggs (preferably free range)
1-2 unwaxed lemons
8 fl ozs (250ml) milk
icing sugar

1 x 1 pint pie dish

Cream the butter well. Add the castor sugar and beat well. Grate the rind of the lemon and squeeze and strain its juice; separate the egg yolks and add one by one, then stir in the flour and gradually add the finely grated rind and juice of the lemon (see below). Lastly add the milk. Whisk the egg whites stiffly in a bowl and fold gently into the lemon mixture. Pour into a pie dish and bake in a moderate oven, 180C/350F/regulo 4, for 40 minutes approx. Dredge with icing sugar.
Serve immediately with softly whipped cream.
Note: If the lemons are very pale, use the zest of 1 or 2 to give a sharper lemon flavour.

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Top Tips:

Cork Free Choice Consumers Group and Slow Food East Cork will hold a joint olive oil event at the Crawford Gallery Café, Emmet Place, Cork on Thursday 29th January at 7.30pm – guest speakers, comparative tasting of Greek, Spanish and Italian olive oils – including some delicious new season’s oil. Admission €5 including tea, coffee and tastings. More details from Meredith Benke 087-9613600.

Irresistible Breakfasts Part 1 - One day cookery course on 21st February 2004 at Ballymaloe Cookery School €195 – an exciting range of breakfast dishes extending far beyond the predictable orange juice and fry – including advice on buying best quality ingredients and presenting food attractively – suitable for those in the bed and breakfast business, cafes and anyone who wants to learn to cook delicious breakfasts. Tel 021-4646785 for details and booking. 

Gardening resolutions – Don’t forget those New Year Resolutions to grow your own herbs and vegetables – the seeds are coming into the shops and garden centres now – so don’t delay while there’s a good selection. 
For anyone down Skibbereen direction today Growing Awareness is hosting a Hedge Laying Course from 10.30-4.30 at Madeline McKeever’s farm, Ardagh, Church Cross, Skibbereen 10.30-4.30 €25. Tel. Madeline at 028-38184.

Green and Black

When Green and Black’s was launched in 1991 they marketed it as the world’s very first organic chocolate. Green and Black’s gave chocolate lovers a way to indulge their tastebuds without having an environmental impact.
Conventionally grown cacao is still one of the most heavily sprayed food crops in the world. Organic was just beginning to be a buzzword at that time, so people were intrigued enough to buy and try it. Its sheer deliciousness brought them back for more.
At Green and Black’s they like to think that they’ve helped change the world – one bar of chocolate at a time! They weren’t just the world’s first organic chocolate, in 1993 their orange-and-spice Maya Gold became the very first product to carry the Fairtrade Mark – the shopper’s guarantee that the farmers and growers who produce the cacao get a fairer price for their crops.
This was a shopping revolution. The day of Maya Gold’s launch, Green and Black’s had a total of eight minutes’ of news coverage on primetime TV. Because Maya Gold’s debut coincided with an independent campaign for fair trade, they discovered to their astonishment that thousands of Young Methodists were actually running from town to town carrying flaming torches and button-holing supermarket managers to stock this ground-breaking Fairtrade-marked product. One supermarket buyer complained that he’d even been getting phone calls from vicars, badgering him to stock Maya Gold because of its ethical integrity. “Nothing to do with us, though we were secretly thrilled to have that unexpected boost to our sales drive!” – says Jo Fairley. But that buyer still placed an order - and today, awareness of fair trade issues means that most global coffee-shop empires even offer a Fairtrade-marked cappuccino on their menus, while shoppers can fill shopping baskets not only with fairly traded chocolate and cocoa powder, but tea, coffee, bananas and more.
Unlike many of the opportunistic companies who jumped on the organic and fair-trade bandwagon as soon as it became fashionable, Green and Black’s didn’t have to do anything special to get that Fairtrade Mark: it was how they naturally did business.
It was only later that they realised that they had established a blueprint for socially responsible business which many big companies are striving towards, today. Green and Black’s already paid a higher price than the world price – because they offered a premium for organic beans. They gave the farmers the security of long term contracts – because they desperately needed that security, at a time when organic cocoa wasn’t traded anywhere on the world markets. This ensured a reliable supply for Green and Black’s.
The other bonus is the incredible impact that fair trade has on a community. When Green and Black’s first starting buying cacao from the Maya Indians in Belize, children left school at eleven because their parents couldn’t pay for their board during the week at the secondary school in Punta Gorda, or even afford their essential secondary school books. Now, as a result of the secure income, a whole generation of children from the hillside villages where their chocolate grows is being educated to the age of eighteen; some are even attending university and at least one plans to study medicine. As Cayetano Ico, the former chairman of the co-operative of cacao farmers who produce the cacao for Maya Gold once said: ‘When you buy a bar of Green and Black’s, you’re sending a child to school’. Shopping ethically really does change lives and communities for the better. But fairly traded products must also be yummy or shoppers won’t buy something more than once. 
I often wondered and now I know how Green and Black’s got its name. In fact, it was dreamed up one rainy Saturday night by Jo Fairley and her husband Craig Sams, Whole Earth Foods founder (and now Chairman of the Soil Association), when they were searching for a name for the chocolate they planned to launch together. “There was never a Mr. Green and a Mr Black, I’m afraid; just a couple sitting in bed with a notepad and pen, having terrific fun brainstorming. As a lifelong sweet-lover, I remembered confectionery brands from my childhood, that had stayed in my mind: Callard & Bowser, Barker & Dobson - and so Green (because it was organic) and Black’s (because the chocolate was such a dark brown, it was almost black) was born. If we’d stuck to some of the names we originally batted back and forth – like ‘Eco-Choc’ or ‘Bio-Choc’ – that very same dark chocolate would simply have gathered dust on the shelves, and very few people would have discovered its tastebud-caressing deliciousness”, says Jo Fairley.
The other important ‘first’ was that Green and Black’s was the first 70% cocoa solids chocolate available in the UK and Ireland. On the Continent, chocolate aficionados have long enjoyed the rich, bitter intensity of really dark chocolate. Here, the ‘dark’ chocolate we all grew up with actually contained as little as 30% cocoa. But since Green and Black’s was launched, 70% dark chocolate has become the magic figure quoted by cookery writers and super chefs when they publish a recipe that uses chocolate: quite simply, for the ultimate in chocolatiness, there’s nothing better. So if you’re a milk chocolate fan try a dark chocolate one of these days. 
Any recipe made with good-quality chocolate will taste dramatically different if made with an inferior chocolate, so choose your chocolate carefully. For most of the recipes, we use dark chocolate, which contains 70% coca solids and very little sugar. It is generally the best chocolate to use for cooking because its intense flavour is not easily overpowered by competing flavours or other ingredients. Avoid dark chocolates that have less than 60% cocoa solids and are not made with natural vanilla. Vanillin, which is an artificial flavouring, and vegetable fat, gives the chocolate a very different flavour and texture from chocolate that contains natural vanilla and cocoa butter.
Where milk chocolate is specified, try to use milk chocolate that has at least 34% cocoa solids. White chocolate only contains cocoa butter from the cacao bean, not the dark solids. If white chocolate does not declare a percentage of cocoa solids, it will not contain cocoa butter. It will probably also not have natural vanilla in it, which gives Green and Black’s its unique flavour. An unsweetened cocoa powder is best for baking.
Over the years Jo Fairley and her friends at Green & Black’s have been collecting recipes from friends, chefs and celebrities, they had amassed a truly yummy collection which they have at last published in the Green & Black’s Cookbook, rarely have I found so many tempting recipes under one cover. So if you need a little treat to cheer at this dreary time of the year order a copy of Green & Black’s Chocolate Recipes published by Kyle Cathie Publishers, edited by Caroline Jeremy.
Caroline gives an insight into how chocolate is made and lots of really practical tips on how to temper chocolate.
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Here are some delicious recipes from the book.

Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Makes 10 large, very rich slices

125g (4½ oz) unsalted butter
75g (3oz) golden syrup
200g (7oz) dark chocolate, minimum 60% cocoa solids, broken into pieces
1 egg
50g (2oz) digestive biscuits
50g (2oz) whole walnuts
50g (2oz) sultanas
50g (2oz) glacé cherries, reserving a few for decoration

20 x 8cm (8x3 in) loaf tin 

Line the loaf tin with greaseproof paper or baking parchment and set aside.

Melt the butter and syrup together in a small saucepan over a gentle heat until they begin to boil.
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over a saucepan of barely simmering water, then mix thoroughly with the butter and golden syrup.
Pasteurise the egg by beating it slowly and continuously into the hot chocolate mixture.
Break up the biscuits into large chunks; remember they will be broken further when mixed, so don’t make them too small.
Add the walnuts, sultanas and most of the cherries.
Pour the chocolate mixture on to the dry ingredients and mix together with a spatula or wooden spoon.
Press the mixture into the tin and decorate with the reserved glacé cherries. 
Leave to set in the fridge for about 4 hours. Remove from the fridge, peel off the paper and cut into slices or cubes. Serve chilled.
Hint: To make this recipe more appealing to children why not replace 100g of dark chocolate with milk chocolate?

White Chocolate , Walnut and Banana Loaf

Makes one large loaf
125g (4½ oz) unsalted butter, melted
175g (6oz) plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon of salt
150g (5oz) caster sugar
2 large eggs
4 small, ripe bananas, mashed
100g (3½ oz) good-quality white chocolate, chopped into large chunks
60g (2½ oz) walnuts, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 x 900g (2lb) loaf tin

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Brush the inside of the loaf tin with a little melted butter, then dust with flour.
Mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl whisk the melted butter and sugar together. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then whisk in the mashed bananas. Add the white chocolate, walnuts and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three stages, stirring after each addition.
Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 1-1¼ hours. Slide a spatula around the edge of the loaf and leave in the tin to cool.

Italian Venison – Agrodolce

Serves 6

400ml (14 fl.oz) red wine
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, chopped
1 large onion, sliced
1 celery stalk, including the head, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
sprig rosemary
sprig thyme
4 sage leaves
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon juniper berries, crushed
½ teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed


3 tablespoons olive oil
100g (3½ oz) pancetta or dry cure streaky bacon, diced
1 medium onion, very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon raisins
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
1-2 tablespoons pine nuts
2-3 squares dark chocolate, minimum 60% cocoa solids

Put all the marinade ingredients into a large bowl and stir well. Add the prepared venison and stir, then leave in a cool place overnight, or preferably two nights.
Remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry with kitchen paper. Strain the marinade and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/ gas mark 3

Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole dish and gently fry the pancetta until the fat runs and it browns a little. Remove and set aside. In the same oil, brown the venison, in batches, to avoid overcrowding the pan. Remove and set aside. Add the onion, season lightly and cook until soft. Sprinkle in the flour until it absorbs some of the fat, scraping up the caramelised bits. Add the reserved marinade and the raisins, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and stir until the sauce thickens and no longer smells of alcohol.
Return the pancetta and venison to the casserole, leave it to bubble up, then add the spices, the salt and the pepper.
Cover and cook in the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes, until the meat is soft enough to cut with a spoon. Add a little hot water every now and then if it looks as though it is drying out.
Toss the pine nuts in a dry pan over a low heat to toast.
When the meat is tender, stir in the dark chocolate and leave it to bubble up again until the sauce is thick and shiny.
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Foolproof Food:

Chocolate Flapjacks

A mouth-watering variation on the usual flapjack recipes – these contain Muscovado sugar which Caroline says take the edge off the usual sweetness inherent in flapjacks.
Makes 20

350g (12oz) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons golden syrup
175g (6oz) soft brown sugar
175g (6oz) muscovado sugar
175g (6oz) good-quality oats (oat flakes)
275g (10oz) processed oats (rolled or porridge oats)
6 tablespoons good-quality cocoa powder

Use a baking tray 17x28cm (7x11 in) or roasting tin.

Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/gas mark 2. Butter the baking tray.
Melt the butter, syrup and both sugars in a saucepan. Do not allow them to bubble. Mix in the oats and the cocoa. 
Use a fork to press the mixture into the baking tray and bake for 18-20 minutes. The flapjacks need to cook in the centre but you don’t want them to bubble, otherwise they will be too toffee-like. They should stay moist.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 20 minutes before slicing up. Leave to cool completely before removing from the tray.
Hint: These flapjacks are delicious with 2 tablespoons of desiccated coconut, or a handful of sultanas added with the oats. 
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Hot tips

1. Always store chocolate in a cool, dry place and do not expose to direct light. Chocolate that has been exposed to extremes in temperature or light will ‘bloom’, or have whitish-grey streaks on it. These streaks indicate that the cocoa butter on the chocolate has changed its structure and crystallised on the surface. This does not affect the flavour though and once melted, the chocolate will be fine to use for cooking. 
2. Careful not to store chocolate near other household items or foods that have a strong scent. Chocolate absorbs odours easily and will soon taste of other flavours if stored close to them. This is especially true of mint, citrus fruit, perfumes and chemicals, so be careful how you pack your shopping basket. 
3. To melt chocolate, break or chop it up into even-sized pieces. Put it in a dry Pyrex bowl and suspend over a saucepan of hot water, bring to the boil – turn off the heat immediately. Never allow steam or water to come into direct contact with the chocolate and make sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. This is especially important if you are melting white chocolate which is particularly sensitive to over-heating. Leave the bowl over the saucepan of hot water while the chocolate slowly melts. Stir gently when most of the chocolate has melted and remove the bowl from the heat. 
4. Chocolate that has been over-heated may ‘seize’ or become very thick and lumpy and impossible to use. If this does happen you can try whisking in a knob of butter or a little vegetable oil, but you may not be able to save it if it has gone too far. 
5. Green and Black’s chocolate is available in most good food shops and many health food shops.

Seville Orange Marmalade

The streets of Seville and many of the villages in Andalucia are lined with orange trees. In Spring the fragrant perfume of the orange blossom fills the air in a most delicious way. At this time of the year when the ripe fruit hangs appetizingly from the branches and nestles against the shiny green leaves, one wonders why the beautiful oranges are not plucked by every passer by who might fancy a juicy orange to boost their vitamin C at this chilly time of the year.
Well, the answer to the riddle is easy to understand when one discovers that these are Seville oranges – bitter oranges perfect for marmalade, but the Spaniards don’t like marmalade and think the British tradition of making this bitter sweet conserve is very curious and eccentric. 
On a recent trip to Seville I learned that the British Consul in Seville used to arrange to have them picked. The ex-pats would come to the Embassy and be presented with a New Year present of a basket of Seville oranges to make their own marmalade.
The majority of the crop is exported, the Seville and Malaga oranges will appear in our shops only for the next few weeks, so rush out and buy them while they are still fresh.
Choose bright unblemished fruit – if there’s even one tiny soft spot, the whole orange will be tainted, so don’t imagine you are getting a bargain.
I adore making marmalade. There’s something about the smell which is so comforting and the result is so rewarding. The jars of marmalade with chunks of bitter peel shining through the jelly make me long for toast and butter to spread it on. Here we have some of my favourite recipes. Remember, it is crucial to cook the peel until really soft before adding the sugar – otherwise, no amount of cooking will soften it.
By the time the peel is soft, the liquid should be reduced to between a third and half of its original volume – otherwise the marmalade will take ages to come to boiling point and lose its fresh taste.
If you are daunted by the task of making enough marmalade for the coming year remember marmalade oranges freeze brilliantly. I’ve included a recipe which works brilliantly for whole oranges. I’ve also discovered some yummy recipes for Seville oranges so buy a few extra and experiment.

Seville Whole Orange Marmalade

(made with whole oranges)
Makes 13-15 lbs approx.

You'll find Seville and Malaga oranges in the shops for just a few short weeks after Christmas. Buy what you need and make the marmalade while the oranges are fresh if possible. If not just pop them into the freezer, this recipe works brilliantly for frozen oranges, its not even necessary to defrost them.
Some recipes slice the peel first but the majority boil the whole oranges first and then slice the peel.

2.2kg (42 lb) Seville or Malaga oranges (organic if possible)
5.1L (9pint) water
4kg (9 lb) sugar

Wash the oranges. Put them in a stainless steel saucepan with the water. Put a plate on top to keep them under the surface of the water. Cover with the lid of the saucepan, simmer gently until soft, 2 hours approx. cool and drain, reserving the water. (If more convenient, leave overnight and continue next day.) Put your chopping board onto a large baking tray with sides so you won't lose any juice. Cut the oranges in half and scoop out the soft centre. Slice the peel finely. Put the pips into a muslin bag. 
Put the escaped juice, sliced oranges and the muslin bag of pips in a large wide stainless steel saucepan with the reserved marmalade liquid. Bring to the boil and add the warm sugar, stir over a brisk heat until all the sugar is dissolved. Boil fast until setting point is reached. Pot in sterilized jars and cover at once. Store in a dark airy cupboard.
With any marmalade its vital that the original liquid has reduced by half or better still two-thirds before the sugar is added otherwise it takes ages to reach a set and both the flavour and colour will be spoiled. A wide low-sided stainless steel saucepan is best for this recipe, say, 35.5 - 40.5cm (14-16inch) wide. If you don't have one around that size, cook the marmalade in two batches.

Foolproof Food

Old Fashioned Seville Orange Marmalade

Seville and Malaga oranges come into the shops after Christmas and are around for 4-5 weeks.

Makes approx. 7 lbs (3.2kg)

2 lbs (900g) Seville Oranges
4 pints (2.3L) water
1 lemon
4 lbs (1.8kg) granulated sugar

Wash the fruit, cut in half and squeeze out the juice. Remove the membrane with a spoon, put with the pips, tie them in a piece of muslin and soak for 2 hour in cold water. Slice the peel finely or coarsely, depending on how you like your marmalade. Put the peel, orange and lemon juice, bag of pips and water into a non-reactive bowl or saucepan overnight.
Next day, bring everything to the boil and simmer gently for about 2 hours until the peel is really soft and the liquid is reduced by half. Squeeze all the liquid from the bag of pips and remove it.
Add the warmed sugar and stir until all the sugar has been dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to a full rolling boil rapidly until setting point is reached 5-10 minutes approx. Test for a set, either with a sugar thermometer (it should register 220F), or with a saucer. Put a little marmalade on a cold saucer and cool for a few minutes. If it wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it's done.
Allow marmalade to sit in the saucepan for 15 minutes before bottling to prevent the peel from floating. Pot into hot sterilized jars. Cover immediately and store in a cool dry dark place.
N.B. The peel must be absolutely soft before the sugar is added, otherwise when the sugar is added it will become very hard and no amount of boiling will soften it.

Marmalade Muffins

Makes 8

225g (8oz) white flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
140g (5oz) caster sugar
85g (3oz) butter
1 free-range egg
orange zest from 1 orange
170ml (6fl.oz) milk
8 teaspoons of Seville orange marmalade

1 muffin tray lined with muffin papers

Icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/regulo 6.
Sieve the flour, salt, baking powder in a bowl. Stir in the sugar Rub in the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Combine the beaten egg, orange zest and milk and add to the dry mixture. Combine with a fork to give a wet consistency. Spoon half the mixture into the muffin cases. Put a spoonful of marmalade on top of each one, top with the remainder of the mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes until well-risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar.

Moorish Tart
Morish in every sense of the word – an ordinary orange may be substituted at other times of the year.
175g (6oz) plain flour
40g (1½ oz) icing sugar
125g (4½ oz) unsalted butter
grated zest of 1 Seville orange (reserve the orange for the filling)
1 large egg, beaten

150g (5oz) dark chocolate, minimum 60% cocoa solids, broken into pieces
225ml (8fl.oz) double cream
4 large egg yolks
50g (2oz) golden castor sugar
juice of 1 Seville orange

20cm (8inch) tart tin, greased.

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/regulo 5

To make the pastry, process the flour, icing sugar, butter and orange zest in a food-processor to the breadcrumb stage or rub the ingredients together between your fingers. Add the beaten egg and mix until the pastry forms a ball. Wrap in greaseproof paper and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board and place it in the tart tin. Prick the base with a fork and cover it with baking parchment and baking beans, bake it blind for 20 minutes, then remove the beans and the paper and continue to bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Place the chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl suspended over a saucepan of barely simmering water.

To make the filling, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until light and fluffy. Stir the melted chocolate and cream together and then add the egg mixture. Replace the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water and stir until the mixture thickens. Add the orange juice and stir for about 2-3 minutes or until the mixture thickens again. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Pour into the cooked pastry case and chill until set.

Orange Mousse with Chocolate Wafers

Serves 6-8
2 oranges (12 if very large) 
4 eggs (preferably free-range) 
22 ozs (70g) castor sugar
3 oz (8g) gelatine (2 rounded teaspoons)
3 tablespoons water
1 lemon 
8 fl ozs (230ml) whipped cream 
4 tablespoons marmalade

Chocolate Wafers
2 ozs (55g) best quality dark chocolate 

2 tablespoons marmalade 
8 fl ozs (230ml) whipped cream 
A pinch of castor sugar

Wash and dry the oranges; grate the rind on the finest part of a stainless steel grater. Put into a bowl with 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks and the castor sugar. Whisk to a thick mousse, preferably with an electric mixer. Put 3 tablespoons of water in a little bowl, measure the gelatine carefully and sprinkle over the water. Leave to >sponge= for a few minutes until the gelatine has soaked up the water and feels spongy to the touch. Put the bowl into a saucepan of simmering water and allow the gelatine to dissolve completely. All the granules should be dissolved and it should look perfectly clear. 
Meanwhile, squeeze the juice from the 2 oranges and 1 lemon, measure and if necessary bring up to 2 pint (300ml) with water. Stir a little of the juice into the gelatine and then mix well the remainder of the juice. Gently stir this into the mousse; cool in the fridge, stirring regularly. When the mousse is just beginning to set around the edges, fold in the softly whipped cream and finely chopped marmalade. Whisk the 2 egg whites stiffly and fold in gently. Pour into a glass bowl or into individual bowls. Allow to set for 3-4 hours in the fridge. 
Meanwhile make the chocolate wafers. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over barely simmering water. Stir until quite smooth. Spread on a flat piece of heavy, white notepaper or light card. Put into a cold place until stiff enough to cut in square or diamond shapes. 
While the chocolate is setting, make the orange-flavoured cream. Grate the rind from half an orange, add to the cream and add a pinch of castor sugar to taste. Decorate the top of the mousse with some rosettes of orange-flavoured cream and a blob of marmalade. Peel the chocolate wafers off the card and use them to decorate the edges of the mousse. 

Marmalade Cake

I found this cake in Julie Duff’s book, ‘Cakes – Regional and Traditional’. Although she wrote that it can be found on the shelves of many of Ireland’s truly excellent baker’s shops, I’ve never come across it – sounds as if its worth a try.
Julie says that the best cakes are made with one of the stronger types of orange marmalade such as chunky orange or whiskey orange marmalade. Do not be tempted to add ‘a little extra’ as this will change the consistency of the cake and may make it very heavy.

115g (4oz) butter
115g (4oz) soft brown sugar
115g (4oz) marmalade
225g (8oz) self raising flour
2 large eggs
115g (4oz) sultanas

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/regulo 3

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy and then add the remaining ingredients, stirring thoroughly with a wooden spoon, until well mixed.
Spoon into a greased and lined 900g/2lb loaf tin and bake in the centre of the oven for about 1½ hours or until well risen, golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out cleanly.
Allow to cool for 30 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
When cold, this cake is excellent sliced and buttered.

Hot Tips

Seville oranges freeze well, so if using straight from the freezer grate the zest before thawing.

The work of the Organic Centre in Rosinver, Co Leitrim has been boosted by the agreement of a two year sponsorship with SuperValu, worth €50,000 it was recently announced. SuperValu intends to work on consumer awareness campaigns with the Organic Centre and use its expertise in identifying market opportunities for the supply of locally grown organic foods to the 180 independent SuperValu supermarkets countrywide. For full details of courses at the Organic Centre, Tel. 071-9854338 or


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