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.

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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