ArchiveNovember 2004

Not Just a Cookbook

Back in the days when the Irish palate was notoriously conservative, Derry Clarke’s father and his brother Joe dealt in everything from proper continental cheeses and Danish rusks to snails and frogs legs. In the warehouse on Wellington Quay in the centre of Dublin there was a treasure trove of edibles and drinkables: Huntley and Palmer biscuits, rusks, maple syrup, caviar, chestnut puree, Schwartz spices, smoked salmon, bottles of carrot juice for the health food shops, Sunquick orange squash for the less choosey, bags of whole spices imported from Indonesia, vast wheels of Brie….

This is presumably where Derry got a taste for fine food. Home was a big, rambling house in Clonskeagh. His mum did little cooking confining herself to “huge hearty stews with whole cloves of garlic but his dad was constantly experimenting in the kitchen, which was highly unusual for a man in those days. He kept up a continuous output of brown soda bread. The larder and the fridge were always packed with unusual stuff: Baxter’s tinned soups, jars of olives, tins of anchovies and shark’s fin soup (for the Chinese restaurant market), even rollmop herrings.

Much of his teens were spent at a small but liberal school called St. Georges in Portroe near Lough Derg where he developed a love of sailing. This gathered momentum during his summer holidays spent in Kinsale. He fantasized about going to sea but decided a maritime career was not for him after a short stint as a crew on a fishing trawler out of Crosshaven.

His first job during school holidays back in the 1960’s was cleaning the loos in Man Friday’s in Kinsale. In time he was promoted to waiter. Eventually straight out of school in early 1970, he got the opportunity to work in the kitchen at Peter Barry’s Man Friday under a great French chef Xavier Poupel. Stints in the Delgany Inn and the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire all helped to develop his repertoire and to hone his skills.

In 1977 John Howard had opened Le Coq Hardi in Pembroke Road, serving by all accounts the best food in Dublin. Derry, eager for a challenge and desperate to learn more jumped at the opportunity to work with John, a brilliant and legendary classic chef. John drove his Merc down to the market at 5 in the morning to choose the vegetables – there was no messing, when Derry slept out, John came to get him – it didn’t happen again!!

After four years of hard but exhilarating Work, Derry says he was approaching “burn out” so it was time for a change. He took on the challenge of upgrading the food at St. James’s Hospital. Eventually in 1983 he became involved in a new venture in the basement of the Lansdowne Hotel with Patsy McGuirk called Bon Appetit. Here he met and eventually wooed the lovely Sally Anne.

A stint as head chef of the Ante room restaurant in Baggot Street followed. Derry and Sallyanne were getting closer to opening their own restaurant. On 7th July 1989 L’Ecrivain opened in a small cramped basement. Derry went about setting up a network of good producers to supply his restaurant – he knew only too well that good produce was essential for good cooking and no amount of fancy cheffing can make up for poor quality produce – ‘Cooks are not alchemists’- a fundamental lesson that many chefs never seem to learn despite talking the talk. It’s been a long hard road, Derry and Sally Anne have worked incredibly hard and developed a loyal and appreciative clientele. Bursting at the seams in 1995 they took the plunge and expanded the restaurant, this too proved too small and they expanded again to reopen with a brand new much bigger restaurant in January 2000. They now have a Michelin star and have just published their first cookbook – ‘Not just a cookbook’ co-written with Tom Doorley. 

The name is apt, its not just a cookbook, but a warm and generous celebration of the people who contribute to making L’Ecrivain such a success. Photos, biographies of the key staff and the valued food producers – butchers, bakers, fish smokers, cheesemakers, game purveyors, wine makers, herb and vegetable growers, who supply the raw materials for Derry and Sallyanne’s food.

It also tells the story of a chef in the making and Sallyanne, the brilliant supporting cast. L’Ecrivain was the winner of Food and Wine Magazine’s Restaurant of the Year from 2000 – 2003. 

The restaurant is not cheap, nor can it be. This kind of dining experience costs a great deal of money, dedication, and sheer hard work to deliver, and this book will give an insight into the enormity of the task. There are more than 90 recipes from the past and present L’Ecrivain, including Cream of Spiced Parsnip and Coriander Soup, Pineapple Tarte Tatin with Coconut Ice-Cream, Pecan Brownie with Chocolate Butterscotch Sauce and Buttermilk Ice-Cream.

‘Not Just a Cookbook’ published by L’Ecrivain Restaurant. Price €29.99
Here are some recipes from L’Ecrivain

Cream of Spiced Parsnip & Coriander, Curry Oil
3 medium sized parsnips, peeled and sliced in half lengthways

1 teaspoon ground coriander
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 leek, sliced
2 sprigs of thyme
1 litre of chicken stock
salt and freshly ground white pepper

Curry Oil
100ml (3½fl oz) sunflower oil plus 1 tablespoon
1 shallot, peeled and diced
1 pinch of ground coriander
1 pinch of tumeric
1 pinch of ground cumin

Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Sprinkle the ground coriander over the parsnips, place them in a roasting tin and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil. Roast for 35 minutes until tender.

In a separate medium-sized saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil and gently cook the garlic, onion, leek and thyme for 5 minutes until tender. Cut the roasted parsnips into large chunks and add them to the onion mixture. Next add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Blend the soup with a hand blender, then sieve and season with salt and pepper.

Curry Oil
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan and gently cook the shallot and spices until tender. Add 100ml (3½fl oz) sunflower oil and warm through. Transfer to another container to cool and infuse overnight. Pass through a sieve, retaining the oil.

To Serve
Divide the cream of spiced parsnip and coriander between four warm bowls and drizzle the curry oil over the soup.

Pecan Brownie with Chocolate Butterscotch Sauce and Buttermilk Ice Cream

Pecan Brownie
100g (3½oz) 71% dark chocolate
150g (5oz) butter, melted
250g (9oz) caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
2 drops of vanilla extract
175g (6oz) plain flour, sifted
100g (3½oz) pecan nuts, chopped

Buttermilk Ice Cream
500ml (18fl oz) cream
180ml (6fl oz) buttermilk
8 egg yolks
130g (4½oz) caster sugar

Chocolate Butterscotch Sauce
150g (5oz) brown sugar
100ml (3½fl oz) cold water
50g (2oz) butter, diced
350ml (12fl oz) cream
75g (3oz) 71% dark chocolate

Pecan Brownie
Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Combine the melted chocolate and butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar, eggs and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add the flour and pecans. Fold all the ingredients together in the mixing bowl until they are well combined. Line a 22cm (9inch) square tin with buttered greaseproof paper. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool before removing the brownies from the tin. Cut the brownies into four squares.

Buttermilk Ice Cream
Heat the cream and buttermilk in a heavy-based saucepan until the mixture almost reaches boiling point. In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is pale and thick. Pour a little of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks and stir. Return this mixture to the remainder of the hot cream and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly, until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. At this point, remove the saucepan from the heat, chill the mixture and strain it. Churn the mixture in an ice-cream maker until it has frozen. Alternatively, transfer it to a shallow container, place in the freezer and stir every hour until it has set.

Chocolate Butterscotch Sauce
Bring the sugar and water to the boil and continue to cook until the sugar caramelises. Add the diced butter and cream, bring to the boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add the chocolates and stir until the sauce is smooth.

Pineapple Tarte Tatin with Coconut Ice Cream

4 slices of fresh pinapple, 1cm thick, core removed, outer skin removed
110g (4oz) granulated sugar
110g (4oz) butter
300g (10½oz) puff pastry

Coconut Ice Cream
275ml (9½fl oz) milk
6 egg yolks
75g (3oz) caster sugar
150ml (5fl oz) cream, lightly whipped
½ tin of coconut milk

Icing sugar, sifted

Put the milk in a saucepan and bring it to the boil. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. Remove the milk from the heat and pour on to the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return to the heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Do not boil. Remove the custard from the heat and cool. Strain. Fold in the cream and coconut milk. Pour into an ice-cream maker and churn. Alternatively, transfer the mixture to a shallow container, place in the freezer and stir it every hour until it has set.

Pineapple Tarte Tatin

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Melt the sugar in a large, ovenproof frying pan until caramelised. Add the butter and combine, then add the pineapple to the caramel. Roll out the puff pastry to ½cm thickness and shape to fit the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and place the pastry on top. Bake for 25 minutes. When the tart is cooked, remove it from the oven, place a plate on top of the pan, cover it with a cloth and turn the tart upside down. Remove the pan and cool the tart.
To Serve
Dust the Tarte Tatin with icing sugar and place a slice on each chilled plate. Place a scoop of coconut ice cream beside it. Dust with some icing sugar.
Foolproof Food

Carrot and Parsnip Mash

Carrots and parsnips are both in season – this delicious combination is real comfort food.
Serves 4-6

½ lb (225g) carrots
12oz (340g) parsnips
2 ozs (55g) butter
salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar

Chopped parsley

Wash and peel the carrots and parsnips. Slice the carrot into ¼ inch (5mm) slices. Cook in a little boiled salted water with a pinch of sugar until soft.
Cook the parsnips separately in boiling salted water.
Strain both, mash or puree together and add butter, salt and freshly ground pepper.

Hot Tips

Sheridans Cheese and Wine Shop in Galway
On a recent visit I bought some exquisite cheese in superb condition – a treasure trove for those who seek out top quality food, organic vegetables and fine wines. Tel 091-564829
In Dublin don’t forget to drop into their sister shop in South Anne St. 01-6793143.

Coast Restaurant in Tramore, Co Waterford
Delicious food – Dinner Tuesday – Sunday, Lunch- Sunday. Tel. 051-393646 

Innocent – the fresh fruit juice and smoothie company have just launched a range of one litre take home smoothies – mangoes & passion fruit, strawberries & banana, cranberries & raspberries, pineapple, banana & coconut –pure crushed fruit and fresh juice – get your recommended daily allowance of fruit, good for breakfasts and kids love them.  

Beaujolais Nouveau has arrived 
It is launched on the 3rd Thursday in November at 0h00 in France and in over 150 countries from Japan to the US. The grapes were harvested in unfailing sunshine throughout the harvest. The Gamay Noir a Jus Blanc, the Beaujolais Nouveau variety, grapes have given fruity wines with aromas and flavours of small red fruit that are very characteristic of Beaujolais. Supple, pleasant,well-balanced wines. So check out your local wine shop.

SIP teas – There is a huge resurgence in leaf tea – partly driven by the fact that tea is an extremely healthy beverage – research findings are proving more exciting by the day. SIP tea specialises in handpicked ‘fine pluck’ tea – this is the fresh, young growth, it contains the highest concentration of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants. Highly sought after, and healthy. Some delicious flavoured teas available. Mail order to Sip, Bellamont, Cootehill, Co Cavan. Email:

The Game Cookbook

Clarissa Dixon Wright is one of my favourite people – always bubbling with energy, full of fun, outspoken, irreverent and enormously witty. Many of you will know her as the surviving lady of the Two Fat Ladies. She’s written several best selling cookbooks and writes on food for several newspapers and magazines. Recently she teamed up with Johnny Scott to write the Game Cookbook
Johnny is a keen shot and excellent horseman. As a farmer, naturalist and historian he has written for many newspapers and magazines. He studied farming on three continents, was jackaroo, miner, lumberjack, Lloyds aviation broker and brakeman in the British bobsleigh team, before returning to farm hefted black-face sheep in southern Scotland – altogether lived a full life. Brought up in a long tradition of rural stewardship, Johnny acquired his love and knowledge of the countryside from his father and the gamekeepers, hunt servants, stalkers and the ghillies he knew as a child. He is determined this heritage should be preserved for the next generation – hence this terrific book.

In this era of mass-produced food – wild game is one of the last remaining authentic flavours, but where can we find a wild duck, grouse, partridge, snipe, woodcock, hare or even a rabbit. Years ago when I first came to Cork, one of the delights of winter on regular trips to the English Market in Cork, was Sullivan’s stall opposite the Fountain at the Princes Street end. The semi-circular stall would be bedecked with a huge variety of game hanging in the feather. One could choose a pheasant, mallard, teal, widgeon, woodcock ……. as well as rabbit. 

In 1995 the Food Safety Authority issued new regulations which stipulated that wild game can only be sold if it is processed in an EU approved plant – there is only one in the entire country in Co Wicklow. It doesn’t take much to realise that it would be totally impractical, not to mention uneconomic, for game hunters and even larger shoots to transport game, particularly small game birds, over long distances. This regulation was originally introduced because there was an unease that not all venison had been inspected and approved. However, the net result was to virtually eliminate a part of our traditional food culture. A spokesman from the FSAI confirmed that they are in discussion with representatives of the wild game suppliers about revised, and hopefully simplified rules which are to come into operation in January 2006. Let’s hope that a solution can be arrived at that will result in the consumers being able to get a ready supply of game as our ancestors were long before fridges and vac packs were even dreamt of. 

If game is cooked within 12 hours of being shot it will be tender but have a wild undistinguished flavour. However if it is allowed to hang for a few days in a cool airy place, enzyme action in the flesh will tenderise the meat and give it the characteristic gamey flavour.

There is a divergence of opinion on how long game should hang, ultimately it depends on individual taste. Many people, nowadays, seem to favour a mild, not too challenging flavour. I personally like my game to taste reasonably gamey, otherwise one may as well eat chicken rather than pheasant. Birds are best left to hang in the feather, undrawn for between one and seven days. The time varies according to the type of bird and the weather conditions. Feathers keep the bird moist during hanging. 

Suggested hanging times 

Mallard and Teal 2-3 days
Pheasant 5-7 days
Woodcock 5-7 days
Snipe 4-5 days
Grouse 3-4 days
Partridge 3-4 days
Hare 7-14 days
Pigeon 1-2 days
Wild Goose 2-3 weeks
Rabbit 2-3 days
Venison 2-3 weeks
(gutted and bled first)

How to hang Game

Game should hang in a cool, dry well ventilated larder or cold room, free of flies etc. Few people have specially constructed game larders nowadays – a cool garage may well be the best option.

If the weather turns warm and humid it is essential to hang in a refrigerated cold room, ideally at a temperature of 0º-5ºC/32º-41ºF. 

Feathered game should be hung by the neck, (not in pairs). Furred game, eg. rabbits, hare and venison by the hind legs. Air must be free to circulate around. Examine all hanging game each day.

After hanging, the game should be plucked or skinned and gutted and then marinated if necessary.

Game are shot so be realistic, look out for shot, probably best not to eat!. Sadly, many restaurants have stopped serving game because of complaints from customers who found shot in their meal. 

Wild game is hugely nutritious, low in fat and cholesterol and a welcome change from beef, lamb and chicken. It is so easy to overcook so be vigilant, otherwise even the most delicious bird will be dry and dull. 

A game bird such as pheasant would make a welcome change from turkey for Christmas dinner, particularly for a small family.

For game: Contact Paul Fletcher, Premier Game, Skeheenarinky, Burncourt, Cahir, Co Tipperary. Tel 052-67501/086-8384700.

The Game Cookbook by Clarissa Dickson Wright and Johnny Scott, published by Kyle Cathie Ltd. 2004.

Pheasant with Noodles and Horseradish Cream

From The Game Cookbook
This recipe was invented by Clarissa’s friend Marianne More-Gordon. Don’t overcook the pheasant breasts – they should be slightly pink.

75g (3oz) butter
4 pheasant breasts
4 shallots, chopped
1 clove garlic
2 tablesp. creamed horseradish, or 1 tablesp. strong horseradish, grated
juice of ½ lemon
150ml (5 fl.oz) double cream
1 packet black or green Italian noodles
small bunch of parsley , chopped
salt and pepper

Heat the butter in a heavy frying pan and sauté the pheasant breasts until they are sealed. Remove them and sauté the shallots and the garlic until the shallots are pale gold; remove and discard the garlic clove.

Stir the horseradish into the shallots and add a tablespoon or so of water and the lemon juice. Season. Return the pheasant breasts to the pan, add the cream and cover and cook gently for 15-20 minutes or until the breasts are just cooked. If the sauce is too wet, remove the breasts and zap up the heat to reduce; if its too dry, add a little more cream or some dry white wine. Cook the noodles according to the instructions and drain. Serve the noodles with the pheasant ad sprinkle chopped parsley on top.

Orange and Herb Duck

Also from The Game Cookbook
Although this recipe is designed for mallard, it works perfectly well with any wild duck, even pochard! If using the small duck you may need more than one breast per person. This recipe serves 2.

Breasts from 2 wild duck
Salt and pepper

For the Stuffing:

50g (2oz) butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon each salt and pepper
110g (4oz) thyme, sage and parsley, chopped
175g (6oz) breadcrumbs
1 shallot, chopped
rind and juice of 2 oranges

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

Carefully slice the duck breasts so that you can open them flat and place them on a piece of tin foil and lightly season them.

Melt the butter in a frying pan and sauté all the stuffing ingredients, except the orange juice. When the stuffing looks done, add the juice and check the seasoning. Place the stuffing on one half of each duck breast and fold over.
Wrap each one in tinfoil and bake for 40 minutes in the oven.

Open each package carefully onto a hot plate so as not to lose any of the juices.

Rabbit in the Dairy

From the Game Cookbook
Wild rabbit can have a strong taste, and the way the country people overcame this was to soak it in milk. This is probably the origin of this delicate dish. It is very good if you are feeling poorly or in need of comfort.

2 rabbits, jointed
50g (2oz) bacon rasher, chopped
2 onions, chopped
mace or nutmeg
1.2 litres (2 pints) whole milk
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180C/359F/gas 4

Wash and dry the rabbits and place in an ovenproof dish. Add all the other ingredients and cook, covered for 1½ hours. Remove the rabbits and reduce the sauce by fast simmering or thicken with a little beurre manie*. Serve with a colourful vegetable, such as carrots or kale. * or roux

A Salad of Pheasant with Parsnip Crisps

and Cranberry Sauce
Serves 4

A selection of mixed Salad leaves (Oak Leaf, Little Gem, Rocket, Lambs Lettuce, finely sliced Savoy Cabbage) - enough for 4 helpings
French Dressing: or Mustard and Fresh Herb Dressing

1 pan-grilled pheasant breast.
olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

Parsnip Crisps - see recipe
Cranberry Sauce – see Foolproof food recipe

Garnish: Chervil or Flat Parsley

First make the parsnip crisps – see recipe. Keep warm.
To assemble:

Put the salad leaves into a bowl. Sprinkle with a little French dressing, toss until the leaves are nicely coated. 
Taste and divide the salad between 4 large places.
Slice the pheasant breast thinly and arrange upwards around the salad. Place a clump of warm parsnip crisps on top, put a few dots of Cranberry sauce around the edge. Garnish with chervil or flat parsley and serve immediately.

A Warm Salad of Pheasant with Myrtle Berries and Parsnip Crisps 
Subsitute Myrtle berries for Cranberry sauce in the above recipe.
The berries of myrtus ugni are ripe and gorgeous at present, they are particularly delicious with pheasant, guinea fowl or coarse pates.

Parsnip Crisps

We serve these delicious crisps on warm salads, as a garnish for Roast pheasant or Guinea fowl and as a topping for Parsnip or root vegetable soup. * Delicious crisps may be made from other vegetables apart from the much loved potato. Celeriac, beetroot, leek and even carrots are also good.

Serves 6 - 8

1 large parsnip
Sunflower or Arachide oil 

Heat good quality oil in a deep fryer to 150C/300F. Scrub and peel the parsnips. Either slice into wafer thin rounds or peel off long slivers lengthways with a swivel top peeler. Allow to dry out on kitchen paper.

Drop a few at a time into the hot oil, they colour and crisp up very quickly. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle lightly with salt.

Venison Pie

When you buy venison, allow time for marinading, and remember that some item like fat salt pork or fat green bacon is essential either for cooking in with the meat (stew) or for larding (roasting or braising), unless the meat is well hung.
Serves 8

1½ kg (3 lb) shoulder of venison, trimmed and diced – 1½ inches

300-350 ml (10-12 fl oz) red wine
1 medium onion, sliced
3 tablespoons brandy
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt, lightly crushed black pepper
Bouquet garni

250 g (8 ozs) fat salt pork or green streaky bacon, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
About ½ litre (three-quarters pint) beef or venison stock
Bouquet garni
24 small mushrooms, preferably wild ones
Extra butter
Raspberry vinegar, or lemon juice or redcurrant jelly
Salt, pepper, sugar

12 ozs (340 g) Puff or Flaky pastry

Egg wash

Season the venison well and soak in the marinade ingredients for 24-48 hours. Drain the meat well, pat it dry on kitchen paper and turn in seasoned flour.

Meanwhile, brown the pork or bacon in olive oil in a frying pan, cooking it slowly at first to persuade the fat to run, then raising the heat. Transfer to a casserole.

In the fat, brown the venison and then the onion, carrot and garlic: do all this in batches, transferring each one to the casserole. Do not overheat or the fat will burn. Pour off any surplus fat, deglaze the pan with the strained marinade and pour over the venison. Heat up enough stock to cover the items in the casserole and pour it over them. Put in the bouquet garni, bring to a gentle simmer, either on top of the stove or in the oven, preheated to 150ºC/300ºF/regulo 2, cover closely and leave until the venison is tender.

Test after 1½ hours, but allow 2½ hours cooking time. For best results, it is wise to cook this kind of dish one day and then reheat the next, this improves the flavour and gives you a chance to make sure that the venison is tender.

Foolproof Food

Cranberry Sauce

Serves 6 approx.
Cranberry Sauce is delicious served with roast turkey, game and some rough pâtés and terrines. 

170g (6oz) fresh cranberries
4 tablespoons water
85g (3oz) granulated sugar

Put the fresh cranberries in a heavy-based stainless steel or cast-iron saucepan with the water - don=t add the sugar yet as it tends to toughen the skins. Bring them to the boil, cover and simmer until the cranberries >pop= and soften, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar until dissolved. 

Serve warm or cold.
Note: Cranberry Sauce will keep in your fridge for a week to 10 days, so you could make it early in the week before Christmas to get ahead.

Cranberry and Orange Sauce

Use freshly squeezed orange juice instead of water and add the grated rind of ½ an orange to the above recipe.
Hot Tips 

Cork Free Choice Consumer Group Annual Dinner will be held on Thursday 25th November at the Crawford Gallery Café, Emmet Place Cork at 7.30m for 8pm – Tickets €50, available from Ballymaloe House (021-4652531), Caroline Robinson (021-7331078) or ‘Well and Good’, Coolbawn, Midleton. Menu will include Sally Barnes’ wild smoked salmon, Fingal Ferguson’s smoked ham and beef from the best butchers in the country. Speaker Tom Doorley, well known food journalist, on ‘The Importance of Artisan Foods’ – he will also have signed copies of his new book for sale.

For great Pizzas and yummy Tiramisu, pop into the new CIBO on 40 Paul St. Cork. Open till 11, closed Sunday. There’s a whole raft of thin crust pizzas to choose from but my favourite is Chorizo, Roast Red Onion and Gruyere. Tel 021-4271082 

Le Gourmet , 5 River Gate Mall, Youghal, Co Cork. Tel 024-20000 or 087-2319210 –freshly prepared high quality food to take away – catering for dinner parties, receptions, corporate functions, celebration cakes, hampers…  

The National Sausage and Pudding Competition Winners were announced at recent Retail FoodShow in City West - Supreme Champion Sausage Award goes to Donegal and Spiced Beef honours to Kerry–

Supreme Sausage Champions are Ernan and Diarmuid McGettigan of Donegal Town – other sausage winners were Roger Finnerty & Sons of Oughterard, Co Galway, Black Pudding – Peter Callaghan, Ardee, Co Louth , White Pudding – Robert Savage, Swords, Co Dublin, Drisheen – Michael & Maurice Whelan, Carrick on Suir, Co Tipperary.

2004 Spiced Beef Champion was John Griffin of Listowel, Co Kerry. Full list of winners  

Dingle Seafood Soup Co. range of soups and pates were launched in UK when they attended ‘Bite of Ireland’ promotion at Selfridges in October.

Terra Madre

The Pleasures of Slow Food by Corby Kummer  published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco.
Italian Cheese - A guide to their discovery and appreciation – Slow Food Editore
I’ve just been to the most extraordinary event – it was held in Turin in Northern Italy in the last week in October. Terra Madre, meaning Mother Earth, was billed as the world’s first meeting of food communities. This event initiated by Slow Food was the brainchild of Carlo Petrini founder of Slow Food, the environmentalist food movement. It was held over 4 days in the enormous Palazza del Lavoro in Turin, there were 4,300 participants representing about 1,000 food communities from 130 countries. Terra Madre provided a meeting place and a forum for people from around the world - for farmers, artisans, food producers, seed-savers, fishermen, distributors, cooks, cheese-makers, fish smokers, cured meat producers, bakers, merchants … to come together to exchange ideas, share diverse experiences and to try to find solutions to similar problems.

This event was supported by the Italian Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, the President of Piedmont Regional Authority and the Mayor of Turin, Coldiretti - Piedmont National Farmers Federation, CRT Foundation and New Holland, the agricultural machinery manufacturer and many other sponsors.

Early this year Slow Food sent out a call to their convivium leaders around the world to identify food communities in each country who were involved in sustainable agriculture.

Sixty five participants came from Ireland. The 4,300 delegates who were chosen were hosted by B&B’s, monasteries, farmers, hostels and entire villages which enabled the visitors to interact and exchange ideas with local farmers and food producers.

At the opening session on Wednesday Carlo Petrini set out his agenda to protect the rights of the small farmer and promote sustainable agriculture. It was also a call to unite against the growing domination of the multinationals and large corporations, ‘alone and divided communities can not react against violence’, Petrini told the enthusiastic if jet-lagged assembly, a vast gathering of food producers who had converged on Turin from all corners of the earth. Some had never before strayed from their villages, not to mention travelled on trains or planes. They came, each food heroes in their own way, each with an amazing story to tell, some clutching precious seeds, others with grains, all with a deep knowledge of their own food culture. Many were dressed in their colourful traditional clothes, distinctive headdress – from Indian feathers to cowboy hats, sombreros, head scarves…

From the several keynote addresses translated into seven official languages, it was clear that politics not just pleasure would dominate the two days of workshops.

Indian activist Vandana Shiva accused decision makers of being out of touch with farmers, ‘the earth’s caretakers’.

Speaker after speaker from the Minister for Agriculture Giovanni Alemanno, to Alice Waters from Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, stressed the need for bio-diversity, lashed out against transgenic crops, illustrated how globalization is causing the erosion of rural communities, how the indiscriminate use of pesticides and antibiotics is destroying the land and how the WTO organization accords affect farmers and food producers.

Never before has such a diverse group of like-minded people come together for a common purpose. Where else would Masai peasants meet Afghan raisin farmers, or American maple syrup producers meet yak herders and cheesemakers from Kyrayzstan, or wild Irish salmon smokers meet Ghanaian fishermen.

Over a period of two days there were 67 Earth workshops on a huge variety of topics, many were brilliant, others were a little chaotic when occasionally desperate delegates from indigenous communities elbowed their way onto any forum to tell their story.

The story was always fascinating but not always relevant to the topic. On a panel that I spoke on there were 5 official speakers, thirteen turned up to speak! 

Dolores Godeffroy from Swaziland had fought for years to open the first African restaurant in her country. An old Russian woman spoke passionately about a local grain. Members of the Tohona O’dan tribe in Arizona came determined to spread the word about the tepary bean, a valuable traditional food they were reintroducing to try to reduce obesity and diabetes in their population.

Slow Food, since its inception in 1986 has already battled and successfully saved a growing number of foods and drinks threatened with extinction. It defends our right as consumers to free choice. It could be described as the Greenpeace of gastronomy.

Prince Charles, an organic farmer himself, addressed the closing session. In his speech to the conference, the Prince highlighted the huge social and environmental costs of cheap ‘fast food’. His Royal Highness said: ‘Any analysis of the real costs would have to look at such things as the rise in food-borne illnesses, the advent of new pathogens such as E.Coli 0157, antibiotic resistance from the overuse of drugs in animal feed, extensive water pollution from intensive agricultural systems, and many other factors. These costs are not reflected in the price of fast food, but that doesn’t mean that our society isn’t paying them.’

Terra Madre preceded the Salone del Gusto, the biggest artisanal food fair in the world by a couple of days – there, hundreds of producers sold their products to a public increasingly craving forgotten flavours. Ireland was well represented by Bord Bia who proudly displayed the food of our artisan producers - Fingal Ferguson’s ham, Con Traas Apple Juice, Carlow Brewing, Connemara Smokehouse, Crossogue Preserves, Milleeven, and a huge variety of Irish farmhouse cheeses.

The response was overwhelming but the most sought after item was Oliver Beaujouan’s seaweed tapenade and dilisk collected and prepared by the dedicated seaweed collector.

Further down the aisle the Irish raw milk cheese and Wild Irish Salmon presidia were getting a tremendous response. Irish Cheesemakers and fish smokers who manned the stalls were astonished by the positive response to the product.

It was more than evident to everyone who travelled to Turin that there is a deep craving and a growing market for artisan and specialist food products. Over 140,000 people visited in three days – its over for this year, mark October 2006 in your diary – its an event no food lover should miss. October 2005 will bring the Cheese Festival in Bra. 

Slow-Roasted Shoulder of Pork with Fennel Seeds

Shoulder of pork is best for this long slow cooking method, the meat is layered with fat which slowly melts away. We also slow roast shoulder of lamb which is succulent and juicy.
Serves 8 – 10

1 whole shoulder of pork, with skin, about 2.75-3.25 kg (7-8 lb) in weight
8 garlic cloves, peeled
30 g (1 oz) fennel seeds
Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chilli flakes, optional

Preheat the oven to 230ºC/450ºF/Gas 8. 

Using a small sharp knife, (a Stanley knife if best), score the rind of the shoulder with deep cuts about 5 mm (1/4’’) wide.

Peel and crush the garlic with the fennel seeds, then mix with salt, pepper and chilli flakes to taste. Push this mixture into the cuts, over the rind and on the surface of the meat. Place the shoulder on a rack in a roasting tin and roast for 30 minutes or until the skin begins to blister and brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 150ºC/325ºF/Gas 3, and leave the meat to roast for 5-6 hours or more until

it is completely soft under the crisp skin. The meat will give way and will almost fall off the bone. Serve each person some crisp skin and some chunks of meat cut from different parts of the shoulder. Serve with soft fluffy mashed potato.
Loin and streaky pork is also delicious cooked in this way.

Irish Apple Cake

We are always being asked for this delicious traditional recipe
It would originally have been baked in a bastible or pot beside an open fire and later in the oven or stove on tin or enamel plates. These are much better than ovenproof glass because the heat travels through and cooks the pastry base more readily - worth remembering, as a tart with a soggy base is not attractive! 
Serves 6 approx.

8 ozs (225g) flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
4 ozs (110g) butter
42 ozs (125g) castor sugar
1 egg, preferably free-range
2-4 fl. ozs (50-120ml) milk, approx.
1-2 cooking apples - we use Bramley Seedling or Grenadier
2-3 cloves (optional)
egg wash
Ovenproof plate 

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it resembles the texture of breadcrumbs, add 3 ozs (85g) castor sugar, make a well in the centre and mix to a soft dough with the beaten egg and enough milk to form a soft dough. Divide in two. Put one half onto a greased ovenproof plate and pat out to cover. Peel, core and chop up the apples, place them on the dough and add 12 ozs (45g) sugar, depending on the sweetness of the apples. Roll out the remaining pastry and fit on top, this is easier said than done as this 'pastry' is more like scone dough and as a result is very soft. Press the sides together, cut a slit through the lid, egg wash and bake in a moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4 for 40 minutes approx. or until cooked through and nicely browned. Dredge with castor sugar and serve warm with Barbados sugar and softly whipped cream.

Ballymaloe Irish Stew

Serves 4-6

2½ - 3 lbs (1.35kg) lamb chops (gigot or rack chops) not less than 1 inch (2.5cm) thick
8 medium or 12 baby carrots
8 medium or 12 baby onions
8 -12 potatoes, or more if you like
salt and freshly ground pepper
1½-1¾ pints stock (lamb stock if possible) or water
1 sprig of thyme
1 tablesp. roux, optional – see recipe

1 tablesp. freshly chopped parsley
1 tablesp. freshly chopped chives

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

Cut the chops in half and trim off some of the excess fat. Set aside. Render down the fat on a gentle heat in a heavy pan (discard the rendered down pieces).

Peel the onions and scrape or thinly peel the carrots (if they are young you could leave some of the green stalk on the onion and carrot). Cut the carrots into large chunks, or if they are small leave them whole. If the onions are large, cut them into quarters through the root, if they are small they are best left whole.

Toss the meat in the hot fat on the pan until it is slightly brown. Transfer the meat into a casserole, then quickly toss the onions and carrots in the fat. Build the meat, carrots and onions up in layers in the casserole, carefully season each layer with freshly ground pepper and salt. De-glaze the pan with lamb stock and pour into the casserole. Peel the potatoes and lay them on top of the casserole, so they will steam while the stew cooks. Season the potatoes. Add a sprig of thyme, bring to the boil on top of the stove, cover with a butter wrapper or paper lid and the lid of the saucepan. Transfer to a moderate oven or allow to simmer on top of the stove until the stew is cooked, 1-1½ hours approx, depending on whether the stew is being made with lamb or hogget.

When the stew is cooked, pour off the cooking liquid, de-grease and reheat in another saucepan. Slightly thicken by whisking in a little roux if you like. Check seasoning, then add chopped parsley and chives. Pour over the meat and vegetables. Bring the stew back up to boiling point and serve from the pot or in a large pottery dish.

4 ozs (110g) butter
4 ozs (110g) flour
elt the butter and cook the flour in it for 2 minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally. Use as required. Roux can be stored in a cool place and used as required or it can be made up on the spot if preferred. It will keep at least a fortnight in a refrigerator.
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Irish Stew with Pearl Barley
Add 1-2 tablespoons pearl barley with the vegetables.
Increase the stock to 2 pints (1.2L) as the pearl barley soaks up lots of liquid.

Yum, Yum Pigs Bum

This soup recipe of Giana Ferguson’s comes from ‘The Pleasures of Slow Food’ by Corby Kummer, published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco.
Serves 4-6 as a main course

12 ozs (175g) dark green kale, such as dinosaur or lacinato
6 cups (48 fl.oz/scant 1½ litres) water
salt to taste
1 lb (450g) russet potatoes, (eg Rooster), peeled and cut into ½ inch dice.
2fl.ozs (50ml) extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 ozs (110g) smoked garlic sausage, cut into ½ inch dice or smoked bacon, cut into ¼ inch crosswise slices.

Strip the cabbage leaves from their stems and cut away the tough mid-ribs of any large leaves. Roll the leaves tightly into cigars and, using a sharp knife, cut them into shreds. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add salt. Add the potatoes and cook until soft and beginning to fall apart, about 8-10 minutes. Using a potato masher, smash them into a puree. Adjust the heat so that the soup simmers gently. Add the cabbage, olive oil and salt and black pepper, keeping in mind that the sausage or bacon may be salty. Simmer until the cabbage is tender, 6-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the sausage or bacon in a sauté pan or skillet over medium heat until crisp and golden brown. Drain the fat and set the meat aside.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls. Divide the sausage or bacon among the bowls.

Foolproof Food

Nutella Pannini

Serves 1
1 Pannini
Nutella or Green & Black’s organic chocolate hazelnut spread.

Split the pannini in half. Spread generously with Nutella or chocolate spread. Pan-grill or toast on both sides. Serve immediately. Watch out, it can be very hot!

Hot Tips

Slow Food Books – The Pleasures of Slow Food by Corby Kummer  published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco.
Italian Cheese - A guide to their discovery and appreciation – Slow Food Editore

Geese and Free range bronze Turkeys for Christmas - order now - contact Noirin Buckley at 021-7331119

Lettercollum Kitchen Project – Cooking Classes, Gourmet Catering, Cooking Holidays  Lettercollum House, Timoleague, Co Cork, Tel 023-46251

Alastair Sawday Special Places to Stay – hundreds of properties throughout Europe – check out the Alastair Sawday Guides or visit  – now introducing their Fine Breakfast Scheme in Ireland – B&B owners can sign up to pledge their commitment to the scheme to serve breakfasts of only the finest and best available ingredients. Alastair Sawday Publishing, the Home Farm Stables, Barrow Court Lane, Barrow Gurney, Bristol BS48 3RW. Tel 00 44 1275 464891


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