ArchiveJuly 2005

I adore the balmy evenings eating outside

We’ve had such blissful summer weather, who would want to be anywhere else but in Ireland when the sun really shines and warm breezes freshen the air.

I particularly adore the balmy evenings eating outside and being able to stay outdoors until the stars start to twinkle in the night sky. This is not the weather to spend in the kitchen frying over a hot stove, any sizzling should be coming from the ‘barbie’ – simple and delicious – this week some new ideas to add to the thrill of the grill.

Remember that people’s appetites increase when they eat outdoors, and of course all those lovely aromas of cooking food will make them hungrier still. Keep your guests’ hunger at bay with some fingerfood – particularly if you get your timing wrong and the cooking takes longer than expected!

Try to have some extra standby food on hand, such as extra sausages (which can be frozen later if they’re not used) and bananas or tomatoes which can be wrapped in streaky bacon.

Before you start barbecuing make sure that you’re organised – with your tongs, seasoning and dishes ready. Even though barbecues are laidback affairs, they will only seem effortless if you’ve organised yourself a little first.

The fundamental principle of barbecuing is controlling the heat. On a barbecue, you do this by raising or lowering the grill. Because they cook more slowly, the larger the pieces of meat, the further from the heat source they need to be. So for thick steaks, chicken legs and larger cuts of meat, you are better off searing over a high heat for a few minutes before transferring the meat to the edges of the grill, where the heat is lower. Searing will seal the meat, so that the juices remain inside during further cooking on a low heat. Smaller pieces of food (eg chicken paillarde or lamb chops) can be within 10-12.5cm (4-5 inches) of the coals. 

The appropriate time to test the temperature of a fire is when the flames have died down. The coals should be glowing red and covered with a light dusting of fine grey ash.

For an approximate guide, hold the palm of your hand flat about 12.5cm/5 in above the coals and count in seconds.

If you can only keep your hand there for:

1-2 seconds – the coals are hot 
3-4 seconds – the coals are medium hot 
5-6 seconds – the coals are medium 
6-7 seconds – the coals are medium low 
8-9 seconds – the coals are low 

If the fire burns too low, boost the heat by pushing the coals closer together and adding more charcoal to the outer edges of the fire.

For a two-level fire with hotter and cooler areas, spread some of the hot coals out in a single layer, to create an are of slightly lower heat to one side of the barbecue. Use the hand test (as above) to check the difference in heat intensity. You can then grill ingredients requiring different cooking temperatures simultaneously.

Be aware of hygiene and safety, keep all food refrigerated (or cool) until its needed. Keep cooked and uncooked meat separate and use different implements and serving dishes to avoid cross-contamination. Wash your hands after touching uncooked meat.

Never leave a barbecue unattended, always keep a fire extinguisher at hand and always damp down the barbecue completely before you empty out the ashes, and allow it to cool before moving it.

Happy cooking!

Wire Rack Salmon with Dill Butter and Roast Tomatoes

Fish works brilliantly on the barbecue provided you put it in a ‘fish cage’ for ease of turning. However you can do a perfectly good job with a ‘Heath Robinson’ type solution using 2 wire cake racks.
Serves 10-20

1 or 2 unskinned sides of wild fresh salmon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil
Dill Butter
110-225g (4-8oz) butter
4-8 tablespoons of freshly chopped dill
10-20 cherry tomatoes on the vine

Sprinkle the salmon generously with sea salt up to an hour before cooking. 

Light the grill or barbecue. Just before serving, lay the salmon fillets skin side down on the wire rack. Brush the flesh with oil or melted butter and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. Put the other wire rack on top. Lay on the grid of the barbecue, 15-20cm (6-8 inches) from the heat, cook for 10-15 minutes on the skin side. Turn the entire cage over and continue to cook for 5-6 minutes or until just cooked through. – Time will depend on the thickness of the fish.

Meanwhile melt the butter and stir in the freshly chopped dill, spoon a little dill butter over the salmon and serve with roast cherry tomatoes on the vine.

Roast Cherry Tomatoes

Drizzle the tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast on the BBQ for 5 or 6 minutes until they are warm through and just beginning to burst.

Balsamic Peppered Pork Chops

Adapted from Eric Treuille and Birgit Erath’s recipe in Barbecues.
Serves 8

8 pork free range organic pork chops, 2.5cm (1inch) thick
4 garlic cloves
2 tablesp. whole black peppercorns
1 tablesp. thyme leaves or 
1 teasp. rosemary
¼-½ teasp. crushed chilli flakes
1 tablesp. balsamic vinegar
3 tablesp. extra virgin olive oil

Trim the excess fat from the chops. Cut snips through remaining fat with a scissors at 4cm (1½ in) intervals, this keeps the chops flat and prevents them from curling and shrinking during cooking. They will also cook more evenly.

Put the garlic, peppercorns, thyme, chilli flakes, vinegar and oil in a food processor or blender; whizz to a coarse paste. Rub the paste on both sides of the chops. You can do this up to 2 hours in advance, then cover and keep in the fridge until you are ready to cook.

Grill over medium hot coals, basting with extra balsamic vinegar, for 8-10 minutes, until cooked through to the bone, there should be no trace of pink but don’t overcook as they will become tough.

You could also cook them indoors on a preheated ridged cast iron grill pan over high heat for the same length of time. 

Chilli Chicken and Ginger Paillarde

Chicken paillarde is an excellent way to prepare a chicken for the barbecue – they cook faster and more evenly. It is essential that chicken is cooked through properly, in order to safeguard against salmonella or campylobacter poisoning.
Serves 8

8 organic chicken breasts, skinless
Chilli and Ginger Marinade:
1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1½ tablesp. grated fresh ginger
6 tablesp. runny honey
3 tablesp soy sauce
6 tablesp lime juice

8 tiny spring onions
8 tomato slices
½ cucumber cut into long thick batons
fresh mint leaves
fresh coriander leaves

Cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise, keeping them attached at one side. Combine chilli, garlic, ginger, honey, soy sauce and lime juice. Dip the chicken in the mixture and toss to coat evenly. Put on a plate, cover and refrigerate until cooking.

Grill the chicken over medium hot coals, turning every 2 minutes, until cooked through, 4-5 minutes depending on thickness.
Serve hot with a selection of salads.

Chilli Chicken and Ginger Wraps

8 flour tortillas
8 lettuce leaves

Wraps with sweet chilli chicken, tomato, spring onion, cucumber and lettuce make great barbecue food – guests can have fun assembling the wraps themselves if all the components are laid out in bowls. This idea could also be used for other fillings of your choice.

Chargrilled Quesadillas with Tomato Salsa, Feta or Mozzarella and Guacamole

Mightn’t occur to one but quesadillas can also be done on the barbecue.
If you have a surplus of squash or zucchini blossoms they make a delicious addition to the quesadillas – use 3 or 4 squash or 1-2 of the larger zucchini blossoms for each quesadilla.
Serves 4

8 x 20cm (8 inch) flour tortillas
100g (3½oz) Gruyere cheese, grated
200g (7oz) feta cheese, crumbled or Mozzarella
Squash blossoms – optional

Tomato salsa – see recipe

4 Spring onions, chopped

Guacamole – see recipe

Spread the tortilla with a quarter of the Gruyere cheese. Put a layer of tomato salsa on top and sprinkle with some chopped spring onion. Sprinkle with a quarter of the Feta or Mozzarella. Add the squash blossoms if using. Lightly place a second tortilla on top. Assemble the remaining tortillas in the same way. (This could be done up to 4 hours beforehand – cover with cling film and keep at room temperature).

Grill over medium-hot coals until lightly browned and the Gruyere is melted, this should take about 2 minutes on each side. 

Cut into wedges with a sharp serrated knife. Serve hot with tomato salsa and guacamole.

Tomato and Coriander Salsa

Salsas of all kinds both fresh and cooked have now become a favourite accompaniment to everything from pan-grilled meat to a piece of sizzling fish.
Serves 4-6

4 very ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
½-1 chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander 
Squeeze of fresh lime juice
Salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar

Mix all the ingredients together. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar.
Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.


One of my most treasured possessions is a dark green pottery bowl with a coarse textured interior, it was specially made in a village in the Oaxacan valley in Mexico to make Guacamole. I carried it and the lava rock pestle the whole way home and have enormously enjoyed using it ever since.
Serves 2-4

1 ripe avocado, preferably Mexican 
1 clove garlic, crushed
1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice (as a last resort)
1 tablespoon 
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh coriander
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper .

Scoop out the flesh from the avocado. Mash with a fork or in a pestle and mortar with the garlic, add the freshly squeezed lime juice, a little olive oil, chopped coriander, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. 

Rosemary Lamb Chops with Mustard Mint Dressing

From : Barbecue, Where there’s Smoke there’s Flavour
By Eric Treuille and Birgit Erath
Serves 4

8-10cm (4in) woody rosemary sprigs
8 lamb loin chops, boned – see directions
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 teasp. black pepper
1 tablesp. balsamic vinegar
1 tablesp. olive oil

Dijon mustard dressing:

1 tablesp. Dijon mustard
2 tablesp. finely chopped mint
3 tablesp.freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 tablesp. olive oil
salt, black pepper

For skewers, strip the leaves from the rosemary stalks, leaving a few leaves at one end of each stalk. Sharpen the other end to a point with a knife. Use sprigs to skewer the lamb.

Boning and herb-skewering the chops.

Trim off excess fat from cutlets. Cut around the bone to release the meat.

Pull the flap around each chop to make a round shape. With a small, sharp knife make a slit through the chop, passing first through the flap. Push the sharp end of the rosemary sprig through the slit to secure.

Combine garlic, pepper, vinegar and oil. Rub on to both sides of lamb. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

For dressing, combine mustard, mint and lemon juice. Gradually whisk oil to make a thick dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. Grill skewered lamb according to instructions below. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spoon over dressing.

To barbecue outdoors:
Grill over hot coals for 3 minutes per side for medium rare, 5 minutes per side for well done.
To barbecue indoors: Preheat a ridged cast iron grill pan over high heat. Grill for 3 minutes per side for medium rare, 5 minutes per side for well done.

Think ahead:
Skewer and rub lamb up to 1 day in advance. Cover tightly with cling film and refrigerate. Make dressing up to 4 hours in advance. Cover and store at room temperature

Eric’s Chicken Baguette

Serves 4
4 boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts, butterflied (see directions) and marinated.
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablesp. fresh marjoram
2 tablesp. extra virgin olive oil
1 teasp. black pepper
1 baguette – preferably Declan Ryan’s Arbutus bread or other good artisan bread
2 large ripe beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
1 handful crisp salad leaves
garlic aioli or mayonnaise

First butterfly the chicken breasts, they cook more easily and evenly on the barbecue.

Remove the fillet from each chicken breast and save for another dish. Slice each chicken breast from top to bottom, so that you can open it out like a book. Flatten with the palm of your hand to ensure a good, flat shape.

Toss the chicken breasts with lemon, garlic, marjoram, oil and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes. (You could do this up to 2 hours ahead, cover and refrigerate, turn in the marinade every 15-20 minutes). Cut baguette into 4 equal-sized pieces. Split and toast baguette on the cut side until just crisp, 1 minute. 

Grill chicken – if cooking outdoors grill over a medium heat until chicken is opaque, with no trace of pink, 3 minutes per side. If cooking indoors, preheat an overhead grill and cook in the same manner. 

Sprinkle the chicken with salt. Fill the baguette with tomatoes, salad, chicken and aioli.

Barbecued Flat Mushrooms

Large flat mushrooms
olive oil
chopped fresh herbs, eg. chives, thyme, parsley and marjoram
salt and freshly ground pepper

Arrange the mushrooms on a flat dish, sprinkle with freshly chopped herbs. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Leave for ½ - 1 hour approx. Cook on the barbecue, sprinkle with sea salt as they cook. Serve as they are or with garlic or herb butter.

Barbecued New Potatoes
Serves 6 - make a bigger quantity by doubling up recipe.

900g (2lb) new potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
4 tablesp. olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until just tender – 10-15 minutes depending on size.(You could do this the day before if you like). If the potatoes are large cut them in half, but if small leave whole, toss in the olive oil, salt and black pepper. 

Thread onto skewers. Grill over medium coals, turning regularly for about 8-10 minutes depending on size.

Cut Apple Kebabs
Dessert apples cut into large chunks, or quarters, sprinkled with lemon juice
Just before cooking toss in or paint the apples with melted butter, sprinkle with caster sugar and thread onto skewers. Grill for 5-8 minutes or until golden and caramelized.

You could also cook the fruit in tin foil papillotes on the barbecue – use a mixture of peaches, nectarines, cherries, strawberries as desired.

Foolproof food

Roast Bananas with Chocolate and Roasted Hazelnuts

Serves 6
6 ripe organic Fairtrade bananas
75-110g (3-4 oz) Green & Black chocolate, chopped
50g (2 oz) chopped roasted hazelnuts or walnuts 
crème fraîche or softly whipped cream

Cook the bananas on the barbecue until they are black on all sides. Put onto a serving plate. Split the skin on one side. Sprinkle some chopped chocolate and roasted hazelnuts over the hot bananas. Serve immediately with a blob of crème fraîche or softly whipped cream.

Other good things to serve with Roast bananas:
Cinnamon sugar (Combine 110g (4oz) castor sugar and 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon)
A mixture of rum soaked raisins and chopped walnuts
Toffee sauce and chopped pecans

Hot Tips 

Books on Barbecuing

Barbecue – Where there’s Smoke there’s Flavour – by Eric Treuille and Birgit Erath, published by Dorling Kindersley

Barbecues and other Outdoor Feasts by Hugo Arnold – published by Kyle Cathie.

Food Magazines generally do barbecue features at this time of year – eg Food and Wine, BBC Good Food, Olive, Delicious …..with lots of new ideas.

Growing Awareness - Farm Walk on Sunday 31st July at Parkmore, Templemartin, Bandon, Co Cork on Farm of Caroline and Eddie Robinson. Tel 021-7330178-
The Robinson family live on a 30 acre organic farm keeping cattle, pigs and geese. They grow 8 acres of vegetables including 4 large polytunnels. All produce is sold directly to customers at street markets.  

Euro-toques Annual Food Forum and Fair, Brooklodge Hotel, Macreddin, Co Wicklow Sunday 4th September.
This year’s Food Forum will centre on ‘Children and Food’; addressing the need to educate children about food, change eating habits and bring children back to real food. 
To book a place at Food Forum and Wild Food Barbecue lunch or to book at stall at the Food Fair, contact  Tel Ruth or Abigail on 01-6779995 immediately. 

Grow a few vegetables

My mother is a feisty septuagenarian. As mother of nine children, of whom I am the eldest, she has a decidedly pragmatic outlook on life. She comes from a generation who ‘got up and got on with it’, so she has little patience with people whingeing about everyday challenges.

Recently she was irritated by the endless complaints about the price of food – “Why don’t people stop whingeing and go back to being self-sufficient – grow a few vegetables, plant an apple tree, keep a few hens” – How right she is, yet several times recently I’ve been reminded that the old-fashioned attitude of ‘yerra ‘tis how the neighbours will reckon we can’t afford to buy it’ still prevails – well now isn’t it about time to let that one go and to rediscover the joys of planting a seed and watching it grow. The delight of growing your own was clearly demonstrated recently when one of our teachers Shermin came bouncing in to work scarcely able to contain herself with excitement , she was now harvesting strawberries, beetroot, broad beans, sugar snaps, onions, garlic and also has potatoes and leeks

She was almost overwhelmed by the thrill of having grown all of this herself in a little patch of ground. Then I discovered that Sue was also hooked, she has been growing lettuce, spring onions, spinach, broccoli, potatoes, cabbage, runner and broad beans and herbs. Emer is in her third year of growing raspberries, black gooseberries, courgettes, lettuce and spring onions. Rosalie had the first green gooseberries and also grows raspberries, tayberries and blackcurrants as well as lettuce, cabbage, purple sprouting broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs. Not to be outdone, Gail has cherry tomatoes growing in a window box

Toby and Penny have also started a vegetable garden and were beside themselves with excitement when they dug their first potatoes. We were so touched when they gave us a present of some of their precious first harvest.

Little Willow, our grand-daughter aged 3½ has already become hooked on planting seeds – she’s the ‘radish queen’ and regularly presents us with a bunch of her ‘spicy radishes’.

Penny also has a few hens which eat the scraps from the house and lay delicious eggs. I’m absolutely thrilled that so many young people have discovered how much fun it is to ‘grow your own’ and to be able to cook the results of your labours. By the way, there is an unprecedented demand for allotments in the UK. Apart from the satisfaction of actually growing some of your own vegetables and fruit there’s the rediscovery of the importance of freshness. This extra dimension comes as a big surprise when one is used to buying vegetables and fruit which are understandably days and sometimes weeks old before they reach the shelves. Many have travelled half way around the world causing unnecessary pollution .

Freshly harvested vegetables and fruit are often on the table within hours of being picked and are picked with vitamins, minerals and trace elements.

Is it my imagination, or do really fresh organic vegetables also cook faster? – I’d love to hear of readers’ observations.

Frittata with Oven-Roasted Tomatoes and Summer Herbs

Unlike their soft and creamy French cousin, these omelettes are cooked slowly over a very low heat – while you can be whipping up a delicious salad to accompany it! A frittata is cooked gently on both sides and served in wedges like a cake. Omit the tomato and you can have the basic recipe, flavoured with cheese and a generous sprinkling of herbs. As with an omelette, you will occasionally want to add some tasty morsels to ring the changes – perhaps spinach, ruby chard, calabrese, asparagus or smoked mackerel. The list is endless but be careful not to use the frittata as a dustbin – think about the combination of flavours before you empty your refrigerator!
Serves 4-6

450 g (1 lb) cherry tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 large eggs, preferably free-range
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 teaspoons freshly chopped thyme leaves
1 tablespoon freshly chopped basil or marjoram
125 g (4½ oz) Gruyère cheese, freshly grated
40 g (1½ oz) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
25 g (1 oz) butter
Extra virgin olive oil

You will need:
Non-stick frying pan – 7 ½ inch (19cm) bottom, a 9 inch (23cm) top rim

Green salad leaves

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

Halve the tomatoes around the equator and season with salt and a little pepper. Arrange in a single layer in a non-stick roasting tin and roast for 10-15 minutes, or until almost soft and slightly crinkly. Allow to cool.

Preheat the grill.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Add the salt, pepper, herbs, tomatoes and cheese to the eggs. Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan. When the butter starts to foam, tip in the egg mixture. Lower the heat to its minimum. Use a heat-diffuser mat and gently cook the eggs for 15 minutes, or until the underneath is set. The top should still be slightly runny. Pop the pan under the preheated grill, about 4 inches (10 cm) below the element, for 1 minute to set and barely brown the surface. Use a palette knife under the frittata to free it from the pan. Slide it on to a warm plate. Serve wedges with a green salad and a few olives, sprinkled with Parmesan and drizzled with the olive oil.

Risotto with Broad Beans, Peas, Green Asparagus and Sugar Snaps

Serves 8
225g (½ lb) broad beans
225g (½ lb) peas
115g (¼ lb) sugar snaps 
6 stalks green asparagus 
40g (1½ oz) butter
110g (4oz) onions chopped 
400g (14oz) Carnaroli, Vilano, Nano or Arboria rice 
1.7-2L (3-3½ pints) Homemade chicken stock 
80ml (3 fl oz) white wine 
25g (1oz) freshly grated Parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano
salt and freshly ground pepper 

Bring 600ml (1 pint) water to the boil, add salt, the broad beans and cook for 2 or 3 minutes or until almost tender, drain and refresh in cold water. Slip the beans out of their shells. Meanwhile cook the sugar snaps again in boiling salted water until al dente, then cook the asparagus for just 4 or 5 minutes and finally the peas for 3 or 4 minutes. Do this while cooking the risotto if you can keep your eye on several pots at the same time.

To start the risotto, bring the chicken stock to the boil at the back of the cooker and keep at a low simmer. Melt 25g (1oz) of butter in a saucepan, add the finely chopped onion and cook over a medium heat until soft but not coloured, add the rice and a generous pinch of salt. Stir the rice over the heat for 2-3 minutes or until it turns translucent, then increase the heat and add the dry white wine. When the wine has evaporated, add a couple of ladles full of stock, stir and reduce the heat to medium, keep stirring and as soon as the liquid has been almost absorb, add another ladle full and so on, stirring all the time. After about 10 minutes, add the beans, peas, sugar snaps and continue to ladle in more stock as it is absorb. After about 5 minutes, taste the rice, it should be just cooked, stir in the remainder of the butter, freshly grated Parmesan and the asparagus sliced into 1¼ inch pieces at an angle. Add a little more stock if necessary, the risotto should be soft and loose. Taste and correct the seasoning. Serve immediately in hot bowls with more Parmesan to sprinkle over the top.

Cherry Tomatoes, Bocconini and Basil
Simple and delicious – great for a picnic.
Serves 4-6

450g (1lb) sweet ripe cherry tomatoes
225g (1/2lb) Bocconini or Buffalo mozzarella cut in quarters
Lots of fresh basil leaves
Maldon sea salt or Halen Mon and freshly ground pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Combine the cherry tomatoes, Bocconini or Buffalo mozzarella in a bowl. Drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil. Season with Halen Mon or Maldon sea salt, add lots of fresh basil leaves.

Zucchini fritters with yoghurt sauce

– from Bill’s Food by Bill Granger
Makes 18

500g (18oz) zucchini (courgettes), grated
½ teaspoon sea salt 
8 spring onions (scallions), chopped
125g (4½oz) feta, crumbled
35g (1¼oz) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
15g (¾oz) chopped fresh mint
2 eggs, lightly beaten
60g (2½oz) plain flour
sea salt, extra to taste
freshly ground black pepper
60ml(2¼floz) olive oil, for shallow frying

To serve

Yoghurt sauce – see below
Lime wedges

Put the zucchini in a colander, sprinkle with the sea salt, toss lightly and set aside for 30 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water from the zucchini and pat dry with paper towels.

Put the zucchini, spring onion, feta, parsley, mint and eggs in a bowl and stir lightly to combine. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium to high heat. Drop tablespoons of batter into the hot oil, flattening gently with the back of a spoon. Cook for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve with yoghurt sauce and lime wedges. These fritters are also delicious with a Greek salad.

Yoghurt Sauce

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
125g (4fl.oz) plain yoghurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.

Blackcurrant Fool
Serves 6 approx.

350g (12oz) fresh blackcurrants, frozen blackcurrants may be used
Stock syrup (see recipe)
Whipped cream

Cover the blackcurrants with stock syrup. Bring to the boil and cook until the fruit bursts about 4-5 minutes. Liquidize and sieve or puree the fruit and syrup and measure. When the puree has cooled, add up to equal quantity of softly whipped cream, according to taste. Serve with light shortbread biscuits.

Note: A little stiffly beaten egg white may be added to lighten the fool. The fool should not be very stiff, more like the texture of softly whipped cream. If it is too stiff stir in a little milk rather than more cream.

Alternative presentation, chose tall sundae glasses. Put 2 floz of blackcurrant puree into the base of the glass, top with a layer of softly whipped cream, another layer of blackcurrant puree and finally a little more cream. Drizzle a little thin puree over the top, serve chilled with shortbread biscuits.

Blackcurrant Ice Cream

Left over blackcurrant fool may be frozen – it makes a delicious ice cream. Serve with blackcurrant coulis made by thinning the blackcurrant puree with a little more water or stock syrup.
Stock Syrup
Makes 28 fl ozs (825 ml)

1 lb (450 g) sugar
1 pint (600 ml) water

To make the stock syrup: Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes then allow it to cool. Store in the fridge until needed.
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Frosted Blackcurrant Parfait with Blackcurrant Coulis
Serves 10 approx

Pour the blackcurrant fool into a loaf tin lined with pure cling film. Cover and freeze. Serve cut in slices with blackcurrant coulis drizzled over the top.

Blackcurrant Coulis

8 ozs (225g) blackcurrants
1 cup stock syrup (see recipe above)
4-5 fl ozs (120-150ml) water* see below 

Pour the syrup over the blackcurrants and bring to the boil, cook for 3-5 minutes until the blackcurrants burst. Liquidise and sieve through a nylon sieve. * Allow to cool. Add 4-5 fl ozs (120-150ml) water.

Raspberry and Roseblossom Water Fool

Serves 8
Strawberries can also be substituted here.

1lb (450g) fresh raspberries
castor sugar
½ pint (300ml) softly whipped cream
¼ pint (150ml) natural yoghurt
1 -2 teaspoons rose blossom water
a few extra raspberries
Rose petals (organic)
Lady Finger (boudoir) biscuits, optional

Whizz the raspberries in a food processor with the sugar and rose blossom water. Sieve if the pips bother you – I usually do.

Fold in most of the cream and yoghurt. Taste and add a little more sugar, and cream or yoghurt if necessary. The texture should be soft, like barely whipped cream.

Serve in chilled glasses with a few fresh raspberries and rose petals scattered over the top with lady fingers (boudoir biscuits) – optional.

Strawberries with Lemon Sugar and Lavender Syrup

This recipe was given to me by one of my past pupils Doug Jeffords who made it at a cookery demonstration he did for the Herb Society of Santa Fe.
Serves 8

60g (2½oz) castor sugar
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel (use a micro-plane or grater, not a zester)
110g (4oz) castor sugar
125ml(4fl.oz) water
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons dried lavender blossoms
900g (2lb) strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters vertically

Crème fraiche or Mascarpone

Using a pestle, mash lemon peel into the 60g (2½oz) castor sugar until well blended. The lemon sugar is best made 1-3 days ahead. Store at room temperature in an air tight container.

Bring 110g(4oz) castor sugar and water to the boil in a heavy saucepan over medium to high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat, add lavender and simmer until lavender flavour is developed, about 5 minutes, strain syrup into small glass bowl, cover and let stand at room temperature.

Place berries in a large glass bowl, pour syrup over berries and stir gently to coat.

Spoon berries and syrup into individual bowls. Add a dollop of mascarpone or crème fraiche, and sprinkle with lemon sugar.

Garnish with lemon balm or lemon verbena. 
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Hot Tips

Two new 2 recipe booklets to encourage use of Irish Speciality and Artisan Foods have recently been published by Estragon Press and supported by Bord Bia –

Irish Food Slow and Traditional by John & Sally McKenna and Irish Food Fast and Modern by Paul Flynn and Sally McKenna – both titles in The Irish Cookery Library are on sale in speciality food outlets, local delicatessens and wine shops nationwide at a cost of €3 each. 

Congratulations to our past pupil Thomasina Miers who won the BBC Masterchef 
Thomasina attended the 3 month Certificate Cookery Course in January 2002 – we are so proud of her.

The Midleton Food and Drink Festival returns on 3 & 4th September 2005 – with a mouth-watering line up of food exhibitors, sampling, tasting, food culture and entertainment - over 60 stalls of fresh food and drink, food demonstrations in the Park Hotel and on the street – ‘Feast of the East’ – a fusion of food, flavour and fun.

Foolproof food

Willow’s Spicy Radishes with Butter, Crusty Bread and Sea Salt

This is how I enjoy Willow’s spicy radishes – what could be simpler and more delicious!
Fresh Radishes complete with leaves
Butter pats 
Sea salt ( We use Maldon flakes) 

Crusty bread

Gently wash the radishes, trim the tail and the top of the leaves if they are large. Cut a chunk of butter into ½ inch cubes. If you have butter pats, soak them in cold water and then roll each cube into a butter ball, drop into a bowl of iced water. 

To serve. 

Put 7 or 8 chilled radishes on each plate, add 2 or 3 butter balls and a little mound of sea salt. 

Serve fresh crusty bread as an accompaniment.

Stone fruit – Peaches, Apricots, Nectarines

At Chez Panisse in Berkeley in California, Alice Waters has been known to serve just a perfect peach for dessert – the perfect end to a rich and satisfying meal. This passionate restaurateur has combed the Sacramento area, the Central Valley and the Sierra foothills to link in with organic farmers and growers who still cultivate the old varieties, some are heirlooms, others like the exquisite Elberta are only 140 years old.
Peach connoisseurs scour local Farmers Markets during the stone fruit season in July and August. Commercial varieties of peach are grown in thirty states in the US but two thirds of the annual aggregate production comes from the state of California. 
Nectarines were named after the nectar consumed by the Olympian gods, the smooth-skinned fruit are actually classified as a sub-species of peach – prunus persica var.nucipersica. Peach and nectarine trees are almost indistinguishable in leaf and flower, they are only one gene apart, the one that makes peaches fuzzy. Really ripe nectarines are quite simply divine.
Apricots are the third ‘stone fruit’ of Summer, a really good variety is a wonderful thing, but when have you last tasted a delicious fresh apricot, or peach, come to think of it, nectarines are still reasonably flavourful but I’m in despair. Those little plastic baskets full of indifferent fruit at various stages of ripeness are everywhere – supposedly a bargain at €3.49 – I’d far rather have one perfect peach and pay the farmer a fair and decent price for nurturing it for me throughout the year. Problem is we no longer have a choice. The multiples have forced the farmers to abandon any variety that doesn’t travel well or pass its shelf life test, hence many of the best cultivars have been grubbed out and are relegated to the few passionate hobby growers who can afford to grow for pleasure.
However, in little pockets around the world gardeners are seeking out the old varieties of fruit and vegetables and growing them themselves. In California there is a growing demand for forgotten flavours and keen young chefs are liaising with specialist growers and highlighting heirloom varieties on their menus. We’ve had two white peach trees on the south facing wall of the cookery school dining room for a number of years, they are amazingly productive though fragile. The white peach we have is Lord Napier and Peregrine is a good outdoor yellow variety
Although the crop is not so prolific this year there will be lots for desserts and pies, we use the slightly bruised ones to make delicious white peach juice for making home-made Bellini – almost as good as Harry’s Bar in Venice and one doesn’t have to take out a second mortgage. If you have a warm south-facing wall make a note now to remind yourself to plant a peach, apricot or nectarine in the Autumn. 
Recommended reading – 
Jane Grigson’s Fruit Book – Penguin
Chez Panisse Fruit – by Alice Waters – Harper Collins
Bob Flowerdew’s Complete Fruit Book - Kyle Cathie Ltd
And The Complete Book of Vegetables, Herbs and Fruit by Bob Flowerdew, Jekka McVicar and Matthew Biggs – Kyle Cathie Ltd.

Californian Three-stone Pie

This pastry is made by the creaming method so people who are convinced that they suffer from 'hot hands' don't have to worry about rubbing in the butter.
Serves 8-12

Break all the rules pastry

350g (12oz) butter
75g (3oz) castor sugar
3 eggs, preferably free range
500g (18oz) white flour, preferably unbleached
1kg (2¼lb) stone fruit - apricots, peaches and nectarines, mixed
225g (8oz) sugar
3tablespoons flour or cornflour

Castor sugar for sprinkling

To Serve
Softly whipped cream or crème fraîche

tin, 10 inches (25.5cm) x 12 inches (30.5cm) x ½ inch (1cm) deep

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

First make the pastry. Cream the butter and sugar together by hand or in a food mixer (no need to over cream). Add the eggs and beat for a minute or two. Reduce speed to lowest setting and mix in the flour. Turn out onto a piece of floured greaseproof paper, flatten into a round wrap and chill. This pastry needs to be chilled for at least 1 hour otherwise it is difficult to handle. 
To make the tart
Stone and slice the fruit into a bowl, sprinkle with sugar and flour and toss well.
Roll out the pastry 1/8 inch (3mm) thick approx., and use about 2/3 of it to line a suitable tin. Fill the sugared fruit into the tart. Cover with a lid of pastry, seal edges, decorate with peach shapes and pastry leaves. Egg wash and bake in the preheated oven until the fruit is tender and juicy, approx. 45 minutes to 1 hour. 
When cooked cut into squares, sprinkle lightly with castor sugar and serve with softly whipped cream or crème fraîche.

Fresh Apricot Tart

This is my version of a tart I first tasted when I was a rather reluctant au pair in Besançon many years ago, its now one of our favourites. Apples, pears, gooseberries, rhubarb and plums are also good and the custard could be flavoured with a little cinnamon instead of vanilla if you wish to ring the changes.

Serves 10-12

225g (8oz) plain flour
175g (6oz) butter
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons icing sugar
A little beaten free-range egg or egg yolk and water to bind

Apricot Glaze
6 tablespoons Apricot jam
Freshly squeezed lemon juice

8-10 fresh apricots
300ml (½ pint) cream
2 large or 3 small eggs
2 tablespoons castor sugar 
1 teaspoon pure Vanilla essence 

1 x 12 inch (30 cm) diameter tart tin or 2 x 7 inch (18cm) tart tins with removable bases

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

Make the shortcrust pastry in the usual way and leave to relax in a refrigerator for 1 hour. Roll out the pastry and line a tart tin with a removable base. Chill for 10 minutes. Line with kitchen paper and fill with dried beans. Bake blind in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove the paper and beans. Paint the tart base with a little egg wash and return to the oven for 3 or 4 minutes. Leave to cool.
In a small stainless steel saucepan, melt the Apricot jam with a squeeze of lemon juice, push the hot jam through a sieve and then brush the base of the tart with a little of this glaze. 
Halve the apricots and remove the stones. Arrange one at a time cut side upwards inside the tart, the apricots should slightly overlap in the inside. 
Whisk the eggs well, with the sugar and Vanilla essence, then add the cream. Pour this mixture over the apricots and bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes until the custard is set and the apricots are fully cooked. Brush generously with the Apricot glaze. Serve warm with a bowl of softly whipped cream.

Apricot Cobbler

Serves 6-8
1½ lb(700g) fresh apricots, or peaches or nectarines, or a mixture, stoned and cut into wedges (keep the juice)
5 tablesp. granulated sugar
1 tablesp. white flour
freshly grated rind of ½ lemon - optional

110g (4oz) white flour
¾ teasp. baking powder
¼ teasp. bread soda
1 tablesp. castor sugar
25g (1oz) butter, cut into cubes
125ml (4fl.oz) buttermilk
1 tablesp. granulated sugar

1 x pyrex pie dish, 1.2L (2pint) capacity

Put the sliced fruit in a bowl, add the sugar and flour, freshly grated lemon rind and a tablespoon of juice, toss well and fill into a pie dish.
Preheat the oven to 400F/200C/gas mark 6.
Next make the topping.
Sieve the flour, baking powder and bread soda into a bowl, add the castor sugar. Rub in the butter and bind with buttermilk until it just comes together. Drop tablespoons of the dough over the filling, doesn’t matter if there are spaces, the dough will expand as it cooks. Sprinkle with another tablespoon of sugar.
Bake for 30-45 minutes or until puffed and golden.
Serve warm with crème fraîche or softly whipped cream.

Roasted Peaches with Honey
Gorgeous with home made Vanilla or Honey and Lavender Ice-cream
Serves 4

8 peaches
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
25g (1oz) butter

Preheat the oven to 250C/475F/gas 9

Halve the peaches and remove the stones. Melt the butter, add in the honey and lemon juice. Spoon over the peaches and roast them in a very hot oven for 8-10 minutes.
Serve the peaches warm with softly whipped cream or crème fraiche.

Spiced Peaches or Nectarines

Serve with glazed ham or bacon
10 peaches or nectarines
1 pint stock syrup
1 stick of cinnamon
1 chilli halved and seeded
1-inch piece of ginger sliced
6 cloves
2 slices of lemon 

Cook all the above ingredients together for 10 minutes. 
Add the peaches or nectarines sliced into segments and cook covered in an oven for a further 10 minutes.

Almond Tart or Tartlets with Peaches or Nectarines

Serves 12, makes 24 tartlets of 2 x 18cm (7inch) tarts or 72 petit fours
110g (4oz) butter
110g (4oz) castor sugar
110g (4oz) ground almonds
300ml (½ pint) whipped cream
Sliced fresh peaches or nectarines (you could also use fresh raspberries or loganberries, peeled and pipped grapes or kiwi fruit) 
Lemon balm or sweet geranium leaves

Cream butter, sugar and ground almonds together. Put a teaspoon of the mixture into 24 shallow patty tins or divide the mixture between 2 x 7 inch (18cm) sandwich tins. Bake at 180C/350F/regulo 4 for 20-30 minutes approx., or until golden brown. The tarts or tartlets will be too soft to turn out immediately, so cool for about 5 minutes before removing from tins. Do not allow to set hard or the butter will solidify and they will stick to the tins. If this happens, pop the tins back into the oven for a few minutes so the butter melts and then they will come out easily. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
Just before serving arrange the slices of peaches or nectarines on the base. Glaze with apricot glaze. (If using red fruit use red currant glaze). Decorate with rosettes of whipped cream and garnish with lemon balm or sweet geranium leaves.
Note: Use shallow tartlet tins and best quality ground almonds.

Apricot Glaze

350g (12oz) apricot jam
Juice of 3 lemon
2 tablesp. water

In a small stainless steel saucepan, melt the apricot jam with the juice of 3 lemon and 1-2 tablespoons water, enough to make a glaze that can be poured. Push the hot jam through a nylon sieve and store in a sterilised airtight jar. Reheat the glaze to melt it before using. The quantities given make a generous 300ml (½ pint) glaze.

Julia Wight’s Fresh Apricot Jam

Makes 2.7kg (6 lb) approx.
I love fresh apricot jam, it seems so luxurious to make it from the fresh fruit, this recipe was given to me by my friend Julia Wight.

1.57kg (3½ lb) whole fresh apricots to yield 1.35kg (3 lb) of fresh apricots when stoned 
1.35kg (3 lb) sugar
Juice of 2 unwaxed lemons

Halve the apricots and remove the stones, keep a few kernels to add to the finished jam.
In a large bowl layer the apricots and sugar, finishing with a layer of sugar. Leave in a cool place overnight.
Put the lemon juice in a large saucepan, add the fruit and sugar. (If the fruit is lacking in juice, you could add approx. 300ml (½ pint) water with the lemon juice). 
Bring to the boil very slowly. Make sure that the sugar has all dissolved, then simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Test for a set and allow the jam to cool slightly before potting. Add blanched and halved kernels half way through the simmering.

Foolproof food 

For your summer parties!

Peachy Fizz

300ml (10fl oz) freshly squeezed orange juice
150ml 95fl oz) Peach Schnapps
1 bottle sparkling wine
1 peach
a few raspberries
mint leaves

Mix the orange juice and peach schnapps together, add the sparkling wine at the last moment, add thin slices of peach, a few fresh raspberries and mint leaves. Pour into chilled glasses jugs, add ice if you wish.

Hot Tips

The Village Greengrocer, Castlemartyr, Co Cork – 
This shop on the N25 in Castlemartyr has now developed a cult following, Sean and Dorothy go to extraordinary lengths to provide their customers with a huge selection of local and exotic fruit and vegetables. They had Carolina nectarines and Rojo peaches – both Spanish varieties last week, and also have a new deli counter where you can buy salads, cooked meats or even have a plate made up to your choice. Tel 021- 4667655

The Apple Farm, Moorstown, Cahir, Co Tipperary – Farm shop – pick your own strawberries, apple juice, mixed strawberry and apple juice, strawberry jam, plum jam, apple jelly – all made with their own fruits and also bag in box juice. 

Forthcoming Summer Festivals with food markets–

Bray Town Festival 15-17th July – live events – free music, fireworks and a Summerfest Food Market opening on Friday – 60 stalls with something for everyone. 

JFK Dunbrody Festival – New Ross – 22-24th July
Lovely event with Food Market along quayside in New Ross with French and Irish traders. 

Mitchelstown Good Food Festival 14th August
This will be the third year of this festival which will be opened by Derek Davis – marquees with food producers, and others with food demonstrations, craft displays and children’s theatre. For information on taking a food stall contact Bill Power on 087-813611

Midleton and Mahon Farmers Market

The growth of the Farmers Market Movement within that period has been nothing short of phenomenal. There are now well over 100 Farmers Markets in Ireland and others are opening at the rate of one a week at present. Their success illustrates a deep craving at grass roots level for a different type of shopping experience. Customers want to be able to source fresh naturally produced local food in season.
Many people are desperate to find forgotten flavours – duck eggs, green gooseberries, carrageen moss …… Others want real artisan food from small producers and really fresh
vegetables grown slowly in someone’s garden or farm.

After initial misgivings, many businesses in market towns have realised that ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’. 

Saturday used to be the quietest day of the week in Midleton, people traditionally went to Cork to do their shopping, now it is the reverse, Saturday is the busiest day. Eager shoppers crowd into the Farmers Market from outlying areas and they continue their purchases in the town. Supermarkets in the US and UK particularly have been aware of this fact for some time now and many have encouraged Farmers Markets to set up in their car parks, realising that this arrangement will be mutually beneficial. 

The management of the new Mahon Point shopping complex in the suburbs of Cork City also had the vision to see the potential of a Farmers Market and invited local artisan and specialist food producers to set up outside their main entrance on Thursday morning. The first market started on 16th June.

We had a very busy morning here at the cookery school but I was determined to go along, lured by the promise that there would be 40 stall-holders.

The early morning was miserable – misty and blowing a gale, I thought of the stall holders loading their produce and umbrellas into their vans, the new recruits like Rikki McCowen, Rory O’Connell, Pippa Wood and Arun Kappil, excited and apprehensive as they head off in the drizzle complete with stall and produce. It hadn’t occurred to them that it would be a wet day.

By 6am Patrick Whelan was already on his way from Kilmore Quay with a van load of fresh fish. Peter and Olga Ireson from Knockatee organic dairy in South Kerry had also arrived with their organic cheese, butter and yogurt. By the time I arrived at around 11am the market was in full swing, the clouds had given way to clear skies and Yom and Lorcan were playing a rousing air in the centre of the plaza, creating a carefree holiday atmosphere.

Customers were wandering from stall to stall exploring, tasting, seemingly mesmerized by the variety of produce. Everyone seemed thrilled to discover that it wasn’t a once off and that there would be a Farmers’ Market in Mahon Point every Thursday.

There were nearly 40 stalls including several seasoned Farmers’ Marketeers from Midleton and other markets – Frank Hederman from Belvelly Smokehouse was doing a brisk trade with his smoked wild salmon, eel, mussels, mackerel and pates, local organic farmer Dan Ahern has also developed a loyal customer base for his beef and free-range chickens. Siobhan and David Barry from Ballintubber farm also sell at the Midleton Farmers Market on Saturday. They had a fantastic supply of new season vegetables, the first white turnips, caulis, chard, beetroot, green gooseberries and elderflower… Siobhan and David also do their best to encourage people to grow their own by selling little vegetable plants in peat moss plugs. Jan and Claire de Neubourg from Co Kerry had home baking and organic fruit, vegetables and herbs from their all organic Wishbone Farm. The Organic Garden and Ballycotton Organics all had stalls piled high with organic produce, including their wonderful mixed leaf salads. Deirdre Hilliard called her company Just Food, she does a range of organic soups, salads, dips, biscuits and ready meals and has already built up a loyal following at Midleton Market.

Rikki and Arun, former Ballymaloe Cookery School students were on their maiden voyage, Rikki made a selection of sandwiches using Arbutus bread and produce from the other stalls, Pippa was selling a selection of her mum’s Thursday Cottage homemade jams. Arun had spent several days weighing up whole spices which he imports directly fresh from the spice gardens of Kerala in South India.

Rory O’Connell, former head chef at Ballymaloe House was busy cooking sizzling steak sandwiches and also offered a range of seasonal desserts. Frank Krawczyk the father of the Irish artisan cured meat industry was there with a tantalizing selection of his cured meats and salami, as well as delicious kassler, brawn and pastrami. His prize pupil Fingal Ferguson of Gubbeen Smokehouse who has also built up a cult following, was delighted with his new toy – a state of the art refrigerated trailer unit which had just arrived from France to house his growing selection of cured meats, olives and Gubbeen cheese. There are no less than three farmhouse cheese stalls, all with beautifully matured gems from Fiona Burke, the Happy Cheese Salesman and local Ardsallagh goat cheese and yogurt. Ollie and Sean O’Driscoll were there with their famous €5 bags of fish straight from their boat in Schull.

Old Mill bank Smokehouse are there with more great smoked fish, Inner Pickle Jamaican style pickles and condiments are worth looking up. Don’t miss Mella’s fudge either and look out for Joup foods scones, soups, juices and summer salads.

Declan Ryan will be there with his much loved Arbutus breads, and O’Flynn’s Butchers with their famous sausages and speciality meats. Riccardo McSweeney has his Baile Bella range of traditional Italian dishes to go and gourmet Italian coffees to refresh the shoppers. Roisin McAlpine of Juicy also provides delicious refreshment by producing her delicious freshly prepared fruit juices and smoothies on the spot.

Keane’s Garden Centre have a tempting array of plants and if you feel like a little bubbly look out for champagne occasions who import direct both champagne, wine and oils from the vineyards.

Sugar and Spice
Korma (mild)
Serves 4 - 6 people

1 lb onions, peeled, sliced
2 oz butter, clarified butter or 3 tblsp vegetable oil
1 oz garlic, crushed
1 oz ginger, grated
1 packet of “‘Sugar and Spices’” Korma Mix
1 tin coconut milk
1 tin tomatoes, chopped
1 tblsp sugar
2 lb stewing lamb, cut into cubes 
½ pt (or 2 small pots) natural, plain yoghurt

How to make your meal:

Sweat the onions in the butter (or clarified butter, oil) in a large casserole dish or saucepan 
Turn the heat up to medium, add the garlic and ginger and stir for a couple of minutes. 
Next, add the packet of Korma Mix and stir for a minute or so 
Turn the heat up slightly, add the tomatoes and sugar, stir and reduce the mixture for approx. 5 minutes 
Add the coconut milk and stir thoroughly 
Add the meat, the yoghurt and cook until tender (approx. 2hr)…simple! 

Serving suggestion:

- sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander and serve with Indian Basmati rice

Alternative suggestions:

- Try replacing the lamb with 2 lbs of chicken breast cut into mouth-size pieces, but remember to only cook it for about 30 minutes otherwise the chicken will be really tough.

- Fish could also be used instead of lamb. Monkfish is recommended as it has a firmer texture. Again, remember to only just cook the fish. This could take as little as 15 to 20 minutes.

Rogan Josh (medium)

Serves 4 - 6 people – another one pot wonder

1 lb onions, peeled, sliced
2 oz butter, clarified butter or 3 tblsp vegetable oil
1 packet of “Sugar and Spices’” Rogan Josh Mix
1 oz garlic, finely chopped
2 oz ginger, grated
2 lb stewing lamb, cut into cubes
1 pt (or 4 small pots) natural, plain yoghurt
1 tin tomatoes, whizzed smooth
1 tblsp sugar
1 pt lamb stock (or water)

How to make your meal:

Heat the butter (or clarified butter, oil) in a large casserole dish or saucepan on medium 
Next, add the packet of Rogan Josh Mix and fry until you hear crackling, then add the sliced onions and fry until golden 
Stir in the garlic and ginger and fry for a couple of minutes 
Add the lamb cubes and fry for a further 15 minutes 
Add the yoghurt, tomatoes, sugar and cover. Simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes
Finally, increase the heat and stir. Then add in the stock and cook until the lamb is tender (approx. 2hr) …simple! 

Serving suggestion:

- sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander and serve with Indian Basmati rice

Alternative suggestions:

- Try replacing the lamb with 2 lbs of chicken breast cut into mouth-size pieces, but cook the sauce for about one and a half hours then add the chicken and cook for about a further 30 minutes otherwise the chicken will be really tough.


- It really doesn’t matter if you don’t stick to the exact measurements. So long as you end up with a tasty meal – who cares?!! And with the Sugar and Spice Mixes, you can’t go wrong!! – so says Arun!

Cucumber and Coriander Riata – side dish
Serves 4 - 6 people


1 pt (or 4 small pots) natural, plain yoghurt
1 tblsp of “Sugar and Spices’” Garam Masala Mix
2 tblsp freshly chopped coriander
½ cucumber, thinly sliced or diced
Juice of half a lime
pinch of salt and pepper

How to make the riata:

Combine the above ingredients…simple!

Serving suggestion:

– use as an accompaniment to the “Sugar and Spice”, One Pot Wonder curries
Foolproof Food

Cruditees with Garlic Mayonnaise

Get yourself a selection of delicious fresh summer vegetables at the Farmers Market and make some cruditees.

Cruditees with Aoili is one of my favourite starters. It fulfills all my criteria for a first course: small helpings of very crisp vegetables with a good garlicky home-made Mayonnaise. The plates of Cruditees look tempting, taste delicious and, provided you keep the helpings small, are not too filling. Better still, it’s actually good for you – so you can feel very virtuous instead of feeling pangs of guilt!

Another great plus for this recipe I’ve discovered is that children love Cruditees. They even love Aoili provided they don’t hear some grown up saying how much they dislike garlic, and you can feel happy to see your children polishing off plates of raw vegetables for their supper, really quick to prepare and full of wonderful vitamins and minerals.

Cruditees are a perfect first course for Winter or Summer, but to be really delicious one must choose very crisp and fresh vegetables. Cut the vegetables into bite-sized bits so they can be picked up easily. You don’t need knives and forks because they are usually eaten with fingers.

Use as many of the following vegetables as are in season:

Very fresh button mushrooms, quartered
Tomatoes quartered, or let whole with the calyx on if they are freshly picked
Purple sprouting broccoli, broken (not cut) into florettes
Calabrese (green sprouting broccoli), broken into florettes
Cauliflower, broken into florettes
French beans or mange tout
Baby carrots, or larger carrots cut into sticks 5 cm/2 inches long, approx.
Cucumber, cut into sticks 5 cm/2 inches long approx.
Tiny spring onions, trimmed
Red cabbage, cut into strips
Celery, cut into sticks 5 cm/2 inches long approx.
Chicory, in leaves
Red, green or yellow pepper, cut into strips 5 cm/2 inches long approx., seeds removed
Very fresh Brussels sprouts, cut into halves or quarters
Whole radishes, with green tops left on
Parsley, finely chopped
Thyme, finely chopped
Chives, finely chopped
Sprigs of watercress

A typical plate of Cruditees might include the following: 4 sticks of carrot, 2 or 3 sticks of red and green pepper, 2 or 3 sticks of celery, 2 or 3 sticks of cucumber, 1 mushroom cut in quarters, 1 whole radish with a little green leaf left on, 1 tiny tomato or 2 quarters, 1 Brussels sprout cut in quarters, and a little pile of chopped fresh herbs.

Wash and prepare the vegetables. Arrange on individual white side plates in contrasting colours, with a little bowl of aoili in the centre. Alternatively, do a large dish or basket for the centre of the table. Arrange little heaps of each vegetable in contrasting colours. Put a bowl of aoili in the centre and then guests can help themselves.

Instead of serving the aoili in a bowl one could make an edible container by cutting a slice off the top of a tomato and hollowing out the seeds. Alternatively, cut a 4 cm/1½ inch round of cucumber and hollow out the centre with a melon baller or a teaspoon. Then fill or pipe the aoili into the tomato or cucumber. Arrange the centre of the plate of Cruditees.

Note: All vegetables must be raw.


Mayonnaise is what we call a ‘mother sauce’ in culinary jargon. In fact it is the ‘mother’ of all the cold emulsion sauces, so once you can make a Mayonnaise you can make any of the daughter sauces by just adding some extra ingredients.

I know it is very tempting to reach for the jar of 'well known brand' but most people don't seem to be aware that Mayonnaise can be made even with a hand whisk, in under five minutes, and if you use a food processor the technique is still the same but it is made in just a couple of minutes. The great secret is to have all your ingredients at room temperature and to drip the oil very slowly into the egg yolks at the beginning. The quality of your Mayonnaise will depend totally on the quality of your egg yolks, oil and vinegar and it's perfectly possible to make a bland Mayonnaise if you use poor quality ingredients.

2 egg yolks, preferably free range
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch of English mustard or ¼ teaspoon French mustard
15 ml/1 dessertspoon white wine vinegar
8 fl ozs (250ml) oil (sunflower, arachide or olive oil or a mixture) - We use 6 fl ozs (175ml) arachide oil and 2 fl ozs (50ml) olive oil, alternatively use 7 fl oz (200 ml) arachide to 1 fl oz (25 ml) olive oil.

Serve with cold cooked meats, fowl, fish, eggs and vegetables.

Put the egg yolks into a bowl with the mustard, salt and the white wine vinegar (keep the whites to make meringues). Put the oil into a measure. Take a whisk in one hand and the oil in the other and drip the oil onto the egg yolks, drop by drop whisking at the same time. Within a minute you will notice that the mixture is beginning to thicken. When this happens you can add the oil a little faster, but don't get too cheeky or it will suddenly curdle because the egg yolks can only absorb the oil at a certain pace. Taste and add a little more seasoning and vinegar if necessary.

If the Mayonnaise curdles it will suddenly become quite thin, and if left sitting the oil will start to float to the top of the sauce. If this happens you can quite easily rectify the situation by putting another egg yolk or 1-2 tablespoons of boiling water into a clean bowl, then whisk in the curdled Mayonnaise, a half teaspoon at a time until it emulsifies again.


ingredients as above
1-4 clove of garlic, depending on size
1-2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Crush the garlic and add to the egg yolks just as you start to make the Mayonnaise. Finally add the chopped parsley and taste for seasoning.

Note: Here is a tip for crushing garlic. Put the whole clove of garlic on a board, preferably one that is reserved for garlic and onions. Tap the clove with a flat blade of a chopping knife, to break the skin. Remove the skin and discard. Then sprinkle a few grains of salt onto the clove. Again using the flat blade of the knife, keep pressing the tip of the knife down onto the garlic to form a paste. The salt provides friction and ensures the clove won't shoot off the board!

Arun Kapil of Sugar and Spice kindly shared some of his recipes with us.

Arun suggests using the spice mixes which he freshly grinds and packages for his stall to make these ‘one pot wonders’ – he will be delighted to offer other suggestions to customers.

Hot Tips

Mahon Point Farmers Market – Thursdays 10-2 plaza in front of main West entrance. 

More One Pot Wonders at Ballymaloe Cookery School on 18th July – Tel 021-4646785

Tipp FM Food Fair - 12-6 on Sunday 3rd July at Thurles Greyhound Track. Booklet called ‘Savour Tipperary’ detailing the artisan food producers/processors in Tipperary will be launched on the day by Mr Alan Dukes TD. Mr Dukes chaired the Agri-Vision 2015 Task Force. 

Artisan Foods of Meath – The Artisan Food Producers of Meath have produced a tempting booklet telling the story of eleven food producers in the area, the group is a voluntary membership group composed of like minded people from very different backgrounds, while the range of food they make extends from chutneys to chocolates, bread to cheesecakes and soups to sausages, they share the ethos of producing locally to the highest standards of quality. Meath LEADER shares in the group’s objectives and fully supports their efforts to promote and aid the development of artisan food enterprises in Co Meath.  Tel 046-9249338 - Michelle O’Brien is the Food Specialist with Meath Leader. 

Artisan Food Producers of Meath c/o Ger O’Sullivan, tel 01-8257761


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