Second helpings from Paul Flynn

Second helpings from Paul Flynn has just hit the bookshops, a great name for another dollop of tempting food from the Tannery Restaurant in Dungarvan, Co Waterford. Paul says “this book, to me, represents all my ‘uncheffy’ ambitions, with relatively simple food that’s ‘do-able’ at home and hopefully you will have a laugh as well. It features me in all my self-deprecating glory.”

Paul wanted to write and formulate recipes in the same way the way he does every week in the kitchen. Devising the dishes according to what’s in season and available. “I let this and the weather dictate how I structure a dish: cream and root vegetables in the depth of winter; olive oil and tomatoes for the summer months.” Cooking is all about mood and feeling. This time round the book is divided into 12 monthly chapters highlighting the foods which are in season at that particular time. Advice on how to cook these for starters, main courses and desserts is outlined in easy-to-follow format. There are tips for filling the coolbox and picnic basket in July, and for seasonal comfort food in November and December. The emphasis is on ease of preparation for the keen home cook.

Paul has put considerable effort into simplifying his food over the years, emphasising the importance of sourcing really good fresh naturally produced local food in season. He delights in each new discovery and by his own admission is an obsessive collector of cookery books. Occasionally he manages to escape from the stove so the reader who tucks into Second Helpings is treated to hilarious accounts of his adventures in his deliciously self-deprecating style.

So even if you never venture into the kitchen this book will make the armchair cooks and wannabee gourmets among us lick our lips and laugh out loud at Paul’s anecdotes and ‘business insights’. Ken Buggy’s quirky cartoons add a brilliant extra dimension to Second Helpings. Ken, himself a chef and restaurateur, owner of Buggy’s Glencairn Inn in West Waterford, also shares Paul’s delightfully eccentric view of life. Paul himself took the photographs for the book.

Paul spent nine years at the famous Chez Nico restaurant in London, the last five years as sous chef, the youngest in Britain at only 23. In 1993 he became head chef in La Stampa, Dublin, which became Egon Ronay restaurant of the year after two years. In 1997 he opened the Tannery in his home town of Dungarvan, County Waterford. It has received many accolades including Best Restaurant in Munster by Food and Wine Magazine and Jameson Restaurant of the Year 2004. Paul has appeared on RTE television, the Food Channel and BBC and wrote a widely-read food column for The Irish Times Magazine. He is currently working on a new food series for television. His first book ‘An Irish Adventure with Food’ was published in 2003.

Second Helpings – Further Irish Adventures with Food by Paul Flynn published by the Collins Press, price €30.

Here are some recipes from Second Helpings

Cream of Onion Soup with Apple Juice and Thyme

You must try this soup. In the restaurant it’s our fall back soup. If we have nothing else we always have onions. It’s an all-year-round soup, with a texture of a creamy broth. The long, slow cooking of the onions is essential. This brings out the sweetness and concentrates the flavour. The trick is not to colour the onions at all so you need the lowest heat and a lid on top of the lot to trap the steam and keep the moisture inside.
Serves 4-6 as a starter or light lunch

Good knob butter
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1.5 litres/2½ pints chicken stock (from a cube will do)
100ml/3½ fl.oz cream
glass apple juice (good quality)
pinch English powder or 1 teaspoon prepared English mustard
pinch chopped fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
garlic croutons and grated Cheddar, to serve

Melt the butter in a large heavy-based pan with a tight-fitting lid and once it is foaming, add the onions and bay leaf, stirring to coat. Reduce the heat right down, cover with the lid and cook for 30-40 minutes until the onions are golden brown and caramelised, stirring once or twice.

Pour the stock into the onion mixture and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook gently for another 10 minutes. Add the cream, apple juice, mustard, thyme and season to taste. Allow to just warm through and for all of the flavours to infuse. Ladle into warmed serving bowls and scatter over some garlic croutons and Cheddar to serve.

Lemon Roast Chicken with Ginger and Parsnips

This is an adaptation of lemon roast chicken from Peter Gordon’s Sugar Club Cookbook. Its deliciously easy, especially if you use a ready jointed chicken. Serve with some buttered sprouts and mash.
Serves 4

1.75kg/4lb chicken (preferably organic or free range)
pinch ground ginger
120ml/4fl.oz olive oil
1kg/2¼ lb parsnips, cut into 2cm/¾ in dice
1 bunch fresh oregano
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
2 lemons, halved lengthways and thinly sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
buttered leeks and mashed potatoes, to serve

Preheat the oven to 220C/450F/gas 7. To joint the chicken, place the chicken breast side down and with the tip of a knife cut round the two portions of oyster meat (which lie against the backbone). Turn the bird over and cut through the skin where the thigh joins the body. Cut right down between the ball and the socket joint, being careful to keep the oyster meat attached to the leg. Repeat with the other leg.

Separate the thighs from the drumsticks but cutting through at the joints. Trim off the bone end from the drumsticks. Turn the chicken over again, breast side down, and using a poultry shears, cut down firmly through the back into the body cavity between the backbone and one shoulder blade, leaving the wing attached to the breast.

Turn the breast with the wings still attached, skin side up. Remove the wing portions by cutting through at a slight diagonal so that some of the breast is still attached to the wing, then cut each one in half again. You should now have eight portions in total – if all this seems like too much hard work simply buy a packet of chicken joints!

Heat a large frying pan. Season the chicken joints lightly and sprinkle over the ground ginger. Add a little of the oil to the heated pan and use to brown the chicken joints all over.

Meanwhile, place the parsnips in a large roasting tin and add the herbs and half the oil. Season to taste and mix well to combine. Arrange the browned leg joints on top and scatter over the lemon slices. Roast for 15 minutes, then add the rest of the chicken joints and drizzle the remaining oil on top. Roast for another 20 minutes or until cooked through and tender – check by piercing the thickest part of the thigh with a skewer. If the juices run clear the chicken is cooked. Serve straight to the table with separate bowls of buttered sprouts and mashed potatoes and allow everyone to help themselves.

Roast Belly of Pork, Beetroot Tzatziki and Rocket

Serves 4
1 large onion, sliced into rings
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bunch fresh sage, chopped
300ml/½ pint chicken stock
1.5kg/3lb pork belly, rind removed
150ml/¼ pint dry cider
8 whole cloves
pinch ground allspice
pinch ground cinnamon
75g/3oz Demerara sugar
2 handfuls rocket
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Beetroot Tzatziki

3 cooked beetroot, peeled and grated
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and grated
200ml/7fl.oz Greek yoghurt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 freshly grated horseradish or 1 teaspoon creamed horseradish
Maldon sea salt and cracked black pepper
Roast potatoes, to serve (optional)

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/gas 2. Place the onion rings in a single layer in the bottom of a roasting tin. Sprinkle over the garlic and half of the sage, then pour in the stock. Sit the pork belly on top, then splash over the cider. Sprinkle over the remaining sage with the cloves, allspice and cinnamon. Season to taste and cover with foil. Bake for 3 hours until the pork is completely tender and very soft, basting occasionally. Remove the foil and sprinkle the Demerara sugar on top. Increase the oven temperature to 200C/400F/gas 6 and return the pork to the oven for 20 minutes or until glazed and golden. Remove the pork to a warm plate and set aside to rest for at least 20 minutes.

To make the tsatziki place the beetroot in a bowl with the apple, Greek yoghurt, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil and horseradish. Mix well to combine, then cover with cling film and chill until needed. This will keep for up to 24 hours.

To serve, place the rocket in a bowl and season to taste, then dress with the red wine vinegar and olive oil. Mix lightly to combine. Carve the rested pork into slices and arrange on warmed serving plates with some of the roasted onion rings. Add the beetroot tzatziki to each one with mounds of the rocket salad and some onions from the tray. Serve with a large bowl of roasted potatoes, if required.

Bouillabaisse of Monkfish and Mussels with Chorizo and Parsnips

Paul adores seafood stews. Once you have the base sauce made all you have to do is poach your fish in it. All the flavours intermingle and sparkle. He would serve this with plain boiled rice.
Serves 6-8

Good splash olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
200g/7oz chorizo, cut into 1cm/½ in dice
250ml/9fl.oz white wine
500ml/16fl.oz chicken stock (a cube will do)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 large parsnip, cut into 1cm/½ in dice
300ml/½ pint cream
600g/1lb5oz monkfish fillet, trimmed and cut at an angle into 3cm/1¼ in slices
2 handfuls mussels, cleaned
400g/14oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
8 piquillo peppers, drained and diced (from a jar – optional)
½ lemon, pips removed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
plain boiled rice, to serve

Heat the oil in a large pan with a lid. Add the onion and garlic and sweat for 3-4 minutes until softened and golden. Add the chorizo and turn the heat up a little to render the oil from it. Watch that the onion mixture doesn’t burn though.

Pour the wine into the pan with the stock and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any sediment. Bring to the boil and add the rosemary and parsnip. Reduce by a quarter over a gentle heat, then add the cream and drop in the monkfish and mussels, followed by the kidney beans and piquillo peppers, if you are using them. Bring the mixture back to a gentle roll and cook for 5-6 minutes. Season to taste and add a squeeze of lemon juice. To serve, divide amongst warmed serving bowls and serve with a separate large bowl of the rice.

Daffodil Slice aka Lemon Sunburst

Makes about 8-10
150g/5oz self-raising flour
175g/6oz plain flour
325g/11½ oz icing sugar
250g/9oz butter, cut into cubes
4 eggs
325g/11½oz caster sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
120ml/4fl.oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas 3. Line a 30cm/12in x 20cm/8in baking tin with non-stick parchment paper, leaving a 2cm/¾in lip at the top of the tin.

Place the self-raising flour in a food processor with 150g/5oz of the plain flour, a quarter of the icing sugar and the butter. Whiz until well combined and then spread into the bottom of the prepared tin. Bake for 20 minutes or until firm and set but not coloured.

Place the remaining 25g/1oz of plain flour in a bowl with the eggs, caster sugar, lemon rind and half the lemon juice. Whisk until well combined and then pour over the set biscuit base. Return to the oven and bake for another 25-30 minutes until risen well and golden brown. Leave to cool completely.

Whisk the rest of the icing sugar and juice in a small bowl until smooth. Remove the tray bake from the tin and carefully remove the baking parchment. Spread the lemon icing over the top, allowing it to drizzle down the sides and leave to set, then cut into slices and serve.

Foolproof Food

Brussels Sprouts with Cidona

You might think this is a bit mad Paul says, but try it, he says the sweetness of the drink balances the bitterness of the sprout, thereby making it child friendly. It’s a regular fixture in the Flynn household at Christmas.
Serves 8

675g/1½lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed
50g/2oz butter
300ml/½ pint bottle Cidona (carbonated apple drink)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the Brussels sprouts in a pan of boiling salted water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes until just tender. Drain and quickly refresh under cold running water. Place in a bowl and cover with cling film until needed – this can be done up to 24 hours in advance.

Heat a sauté pan and add the butter. Once foaming, tip in the blanched Brussels sprouts and sauté on a medium heat, turning every now and again until they start to lightly brown. Pour in the Cidona, increase the heat and simmer until all the liquid has absorbed into the sprouts, shaking the pan a couple of times. Season to taste and tip into a warmed serving bowl to serve.

Tip – if you can’t find Cidona use 7-Up!

Hot Tips

Let’s Eat out! Your Passport to Living Gluten and Allergy Free – this recently published book is dedicated to eating outside the home while managing ten food allergies including: corn, dairy, eggs, fish, gluten, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts and wheat. The mission of GlutenFree Passport is to empower individuals with food allergies and special diets to safely dine outside the home, travel and explore the world.  27 N. Wacker Drive Suite 258, Chicago Il 60606-2800 Tel 001 312 952 4900 Fax 001 312 372 2770

Crozier Dairy Products who make the delicious Crozier Blue Sheep’s Milk Cheese have just launched a new product – Crozier Sheep’s Yoghurt – 100% sheep’s milk produced on their farm in Cashel, probiotic culture, very mild but distinct slightly sweet flavour which comes naturally from the sheep’s milk, rich silky texture that goes well with fresh fruits with shelf life of 5 weeks.

Heading to County Mayo - Look up JK Gannons in Ballinrobe –
family owned hotel with pub and restaurant recently restored to provide luxury accommodation and facilities – in the centre of the town with views across Lough Mask (a favourite with anglers) to the Tourmakeady Mountains – run by Jay and Nikki Gannon (one of our past pupils) – 3rd generation of the family. Tel 094-9541008 –  - 40 minutes from Galway, Westport, Knock, Castlebar 25 minutes.

Comforting Winter Food

Lots of cookbooks have been written extolling the glories of Spring and Summer foods – of the first rhubarb, the first spears of asparagus, sweet green peas and summer berries. The produce of Autumn and Winter is seldom welcomed with such enthusiasm yet Jill Norman has just written a wonderful book called Winter Food to remind us that there is much to get excited about. Gardens, orchards and fields may be dormant but there are still lots of winter vegetables, fruit and nuts and the food that warms and nourishes during the winter months.

Even if forests and moorlands are in the grip of cold, game is still hunted to provide pheasant, wild duck, venison and hare. Geese are reared for the autumn and winter feast days. Citrus fruits are at their best, as are many fish and shellfish. Winter Food focuses on making the best use of the season’s foods, providing a rich variety of dishes for eating well with family and friends.

Jill Norman is one of the most highly respected cookery authors in the UK. She was the first editor of the Penguin cookery list, where she edited Elizabeth David among others, and she is now the literary trustee of Elizabeth David’s estate. As a publisher, she has been awarded two special Glenfiddich awards, as well as winning the Glenfiddich, the André Simon and countless other awards for her own books.

Jill’s book draws on the winter traditions of different cultures and offers recipes from all quarters of the globe. From the high Andes and the northern states of America, the plateaux of Turkey and Spain and the mountain villages of Italy, as well as from China, Russia, Scandinavia and Britain, there are rich, warming dishes to counter winter’s chill.

I myself adore Autumn and Winter food, the cold weather gives me the excuse to make lots of comforting casseroles. We linger longer over meals in the cold season.

Winter Food – seasonal recipes for the colder months – by Jill Norman, published by Kyle Cathie, £19.99stg –  

Here are some delicious recipes from the book .

Brussels Sprout Soup

Serves 6
500g (18oz) small Brussels sprouts
30g (1¼oz) butter
1tablespoon plain flour
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1.25 litres(2pints) hot chicken or vegetable stock
1 egg yolk
120ml (3¾fl.oz) double cream or crème fraiche
salt and freshly ground black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
croûtons to serve

Blanch the sprouts in boiling water for 3 minutes and drain. Heat the butter in a large pan, add the sprouts and shake and toss them in the butter. Sprinkle over the flour and garlic, mix well and pour over the hot stock, stirring continually. Simmer until the sprouts are soft, about 20 minutes. Blend the soup until smooth.

Beat the egg yolk with the cream, pour a ladleful of soup into the mixture, then stir this mixture into the soup over a very low heat. Remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir for 1 minute. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and serve at once with croûtons.

Garlic Chicken

A classic slow-cooked French dish in which the garlic suffuses the chicken with its rich flavour and provides a mellow purée to spread on the accompanying toast or baked potatoes.
Serves 4

4 chicken legs, separated into drumsticks and thighs
salt and freshly ground pepper
3-4 heads garlic
130ml (4fl.oz) olive oil
1 bouquet garni of thyme, parsley, rosemary, bay leaf and sage

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Season the chicken and put it into an earthenware casserole. Separate the garlic cloves, discarding the outer skin, but don’t peel the cloves. Add them to the casserole, trickle over the oil and turn everything with your hands to ensure that the garlic and chicken are well coated. Tuck the bouquet garni into the centre. Cover with foil and a well-fitting lid and bake low down in the oven for 1½ hours.

The chicken will be very tender, the garlic will separate easily from its skin and the aromas will be heady. Serve straight from the casserole, either with lightly toasted country bread on which to spread the garlic purée, or with potatoes that have been baked in the oven at the same time.

Avocado, pomegranate and wild rocket salad

The deep red pomegranate seeds give this salad a bright note on a wintry day and their sweet juiciness contrasts well with the peppery rocket, the smoothness of the avocado and the crunchy cucumber.
Serves 4

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 shallot, finely chopped
½ cucumber
1 pomegranate
1 large avocado
squeeze of lemon juice
2-3 large handfuls wild rocket

Make a dressing with the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and add the shallot when you are ready to prepare the salad. Cut the cucumber in 4 lengthways, remove the seeds and cut each quarter into 2 strips. Cut the strips into dice, put them in a colander and sprinkle with salt.

Cut the top from the pomegranate and pull it apart gently. Pick out the seeds and discard all the pith. Put the seeds and any juice into a bowl. Dice the avocado and sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent the flesh discolouring. Rinse the cucumber and dry on a clean tea towel.

To assemble, put the rocket into a salad bowl, scatter over the cucumber and avocado and finally the pomegranate seeds. Add pomegranate juice to the dressing if you wish. Whisk the dressing and pour it over the salad.

Omit the shallot from the dressing and replace the cucumber with 60g (2½oz) of toasted and skinned hazelnuts or toasted pine nuts.

Venison Chilli

Chilli may not be a sophisticated dish, but it is certainly popular and flavourful. Venison responds well to the rich spicy sauce, although chilli is traditionally made with pork or beef. This is not a very hot chilli; I prefer to use chillies such as anchos or guajillos which add flavour as much as heat. These Mexican dried chillies are now being sold in some supermarkets or are available from Mexican suppliers and spice merchants. If you can’t get them, use 1½-2 tablespoons of good-quality ground chilli instead.
Serves 6

4 ancho or guajillo chillies, stalks and seeds removed
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 onions, chopped
750g (1lb10oz) venison, diced (use shoulder, breast or meat sold as stewing venison)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato purée
400g (14oz) tinned chopped tomatoes
500ml (18oz) beef stock
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
800g (1lb12oz) tinned red kidney beans

Heat a heavy dry frying pan or griddle and toast the chillies over a moderate heat, turning them with tongs, until they have softened. It will take 10-15 minutes. Transfer them to a bowl and cover with boiling water. Put a small plate on top to keep the chillies submerged and soak for 30 minutes. Remove them from the water and put them into a blender with about 250ml (9fl.oz) of the soaking liquid and puree them.

Heat the oil in a large casserole and fry the onions. When they start to brown, add the venison and brown on all sides. Add the garlic, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper, the chilli purée, tomato purée and tomatoes. Stir well and pour over the stock. Cover the pan tightly and simmer over a very low heat fro 2 hours, or put the casserole into a preheated oven at 170C/325F/gas mark 3.

Check the venison is done, then stir in the vinegar and beans. Simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. Serve at once, or leave overnight and reheat slowly, the flavours will improve.

Roast rack of Lamb with Dukka
Dukka is an Egyptian nut and spice blend that varies from family to family. It can be sprinkled over rice or soup, and on pieces of warm pita dunked in olive oil it is one of the best nibbles to serve with drinks. It also makes an excellent crust for lamb. Some spice merchants now sell ready-made dukka, but I have also given a recipe below because it is easy to make at home, and keeps well.
Serves 2

To make the dukka, dry roast all the nuts and seeds separately until the hazelnuts lose their skins, the sesame seeds are golden, and the coriander and cumin darken and give off their aroma. Remove the loose skins from the hazelnuts by rubbing them in a tea towel. Put the hazelnuts, sesame seeds, coriander and cumin into a food processor with a little salt and grind to a coarse powder. Don’t overwork it or the oil from the nuts and sesame will be released and turn it into a paste. It can now be stored in an airtight container.

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Rub the lamb with olive oil and press 2-3 tablespoons of dukka into the fat side. Roast for 20 minutes if you like your lamb rare, or a few minutes longer for medium rare.

Serve with Provencal Lentils and Roast Fennel and Onions.

Roast Fennel and Onions

The flavours of fennel and onions complement each other and both caramelise nicely when roasted. This is a good dish to make for a large gathering, because it looks after itself. It goes well with lamb, pork and poultry, or as one of a number of dishes for a vegetarian feast.

Serves 8

6 bulbs of fennel (about 1.5kg/3lb5oz)
3 large onions, quartered
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
shavings of Parmesan (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Remove the outer layer and the tops of the fennel and cut the bulbs into quarters. Put the fennel and onions into a baking dish, spoon over the oil, add a little salt and mix the vegetables in the oil carefully in order not to break the pieces. It is best to do this with your hands. Roast the vegetables for 40-50 minutes, turning them 2 or 3 times. To serve, put the vegetables into a warmed dish, give a good grinding of pepper and top with shaved Parmesan, if you wish.

Provencal Lentils
Lentils are available in several varieties; the ones with the best texture and flavour come from Puy in France and from Castellucio in Italy. Decidedly comfort food, they respond well to a variety of flavourings: herbs, spices, cream or yogurt, as well as the traditional garlic and tomato of Provence.

Serves 4

250g (9oz) Puy lentils
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
1 tablespoon tomato puree
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped mint
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Pick over the lentils and wash them. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and saute the onion until softened and translucent but not browned. Add the garlic, stir it in the oil for a moment, then put in the lentils, bay leaf, peppercorns and tomato puree. Pour in 750ml (good 1¾ pints) of water, stir to mix the tomato puree and cook, partly covered, until the lentils are tender, this should take 20-25 minutes. Check the pan from time to time and add a little more water, if needed, to keep the lentils covered.

Add a little salt in the last 5 minutes of cooking. Drain the lentils well, discard the bay leaf and stir in the herbs and a little olive oil, if you wish.

Serves with the Roast Rack of Lamb with Dukka or makes a good vegetarian dish.

Dried Fruit Compote
This fragrant compote can be made just with apricots and raisins but we like to include other fruit – peaches, pears, prunes or figs. The dish must be macerated for 48 hours, and will keep longer. We often eat it for breakfast if there is any left over from dessert.

Serves 6-8

300g(11oz) dried apricots 
120g(4oz) sultanas
120g(4oz) raisins
150g(5½oz) dried peaches
150g(5½oz) dried figs
caster sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons rose or orange flower water
100g(3½oz) pistachio nuts, or blanched flaked almonds

Put all the dried fruit in a large bowl and cover with water. Taste and add sugar if you like very sweet things. Add the rose or orange flower water, cover and put the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 48 hours. Just before serving add in the nuts.

To flavour the compote, use the grated rind of an unwaxed orange and a small stick of cinnamon instead of flower water.

Foolproof Food

Sloe Gin

Sloes are very tart little berries that resemble tiny purple plums in appearance, they grow on prickly bushes on top of stone walls and are in season in September and October.

Its great fun to organize a few pals to pick sloes and have a sloe gin making party.
Sloes make a terrific beverage ready for Christmas presents.

675g (11/2 lbs) sloes
340g (3/4lb) white sugar
1.2L (2 pints) gin 

one or several darning needles and clean sterilized kilner jars and bottles

Wash and dry the sloes, prick in several places, we use a clean darning needle. Put them into a sterilized glass kilner jar and cover with sugar and gin. Cover and seal tightly, shake every couple of days to start with and then every now and then for 3 or 4 months, by which time it will be ready to strain and bottle. It will improve on keeping so try to resist drinking it for another few months. Delicious damson gin can be made in exactly the same way.

Hot Tips

Youghal Through the Ages this weekend
Elizabethan Market at Barry’s Lane today 10.00-3.00 with street entertainment.
An Elizabethan Banquet – tonight at Walter Raleigh Hotel, as part of the Youghal Through the Ages programme – Tel 024-92011 to book
Mulled wine reception, 5 course Elizabethan style banquet, music and dancing.  or  


to Denis Cotter of Café Paradiso on winning Chef of the Year in Ireland 2005 – awarded by Food and Wine Magazine and 

to Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe House on winning the Hall of Fame Award also from Food and Wine Magazine.

Midleton Farmers Market – today Saturday 1st October, Gene Cunningham who sharpens knives will attend – so bring along your kitchen knives if they need sharpening.

Good Things Café and Cookery School, Durrus, West Cork 
Autumn programme just launched includes 1 week and weekend courses – which take place in her restaurant with Carmel Somers, with opportunities to go out with fishermen, see cheese being made and so on – contact Carmel Somers on 027-61426 or visit  

Association of Craft Butchers of Ireland (ACBI) – recognises the benefits of continued training for craft butchers and this emphasis on providing members with opportunities to develop and improve skills is reflected in a dedicated training programme by the association. A recent introduction is an E-learning course in Customer Service Skills – an 8 hour course delivered on-line which can be done at home. A new FETAC accredited Certificate in Butchering will be launched in its pilot phase this autumn.  Tel 01-2961400

Congratulations to Brady Family for winning Gold Award at 2005 Great Taste Awards in London’s Olympia recently – for their Traditional Baked and Glazed Irish Ham prepared by the company in Timahoe, Donadea, Co Kildare.

Murray’s Cheese Shop at Grand Central

Grand Central Station Terminal in New York used to be so grotty, paint peeling from the ceiling, a few dingy shops, a 99cent store and a few basic services for commuters like shoe shine stands. Commuters hurried through on the way to the trains, no reason to dally, nothing to distract or amuse if one’s train was delayed.
All that changed radically when the station was painstakingly renovated in the mid-nineties When it reopened in 1998 it was a whole new scene, lots of ‘upscale’ retail outlets to tempt the semi-captive 700,000 commuters who pass through daily. They responded with enthusiasm . Travellers are now building in a little extra time to visit the restaurants and shops.

Murray’s Cheese Shop, Pescatore Seafood company and Koglein German Royal Hams are just three of the speciality food shops within an area called Grand Central Market. . New York cheese guru Rob Kaufeld who runs Murray’s Cheese Shop is one of 90 retailers, food merchants and restaurateurs who have been doing a brisk business at Grand Central Station since it reopened. My daughter Emily spent a Summer’s break ‘chopping cheese’ at Murray’s Cheese Shop. She loved the camaraderie between the stall holders and was greatly amused by the frenetic jewel encrusted New Yorkers dashing in to buy some low fat cheese on the way home – Murrays, quite rightly, didn’t sell any ‘low fat’ cheese so she encouraged them in her soft Irish lilt to buy some Irish farmhouse cheese, perhaps a deliciously pungent Ardrahan or a toothsome wedge of Cashel Blue. Philip Dennhardt worked on the German meat stall next door to Murrays and sold copious quantities of cured meat, sausages and German salad.

This area has become one of the hippest areas to do one’s food shopping in New York. Its so blindingly obvious to site artisan food shops in a busy transit hub. Retailers at Grand Central are delighted with their semi-captive audience. Annual return per square foot in Grand Central Market where rent costs about €200 per square foot is about $2000, as opposed to malls where the return might be $1400 or a shopping centre $500 - $800 per square foot. There are now 22 restaurants to choose from, kids spots like Junior’s Dishes to the recently opened Ciao Bella Gelateria in the lower dining concourse, most like Paninoteca who make great panini, offer take-out only.

The drawback for the traders at Grand Central is that business seems to be almost exclusively tied to office hours and schedules of urban commuters.

Jerry Bocchino of the Pescatore Seafood Company says that 80% of their business is done between 4.30pm and 8pm and weekends are still not where he’d like them to be.

Here are some typical New York recipes From The New York Cookbook by Molly O’Neill –published by Workman Publishing Co. New York. The recipes are written in American cup measurements – 1 cup = 8fl.oz

Eileen’s Honey Walnuts

Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, is a cookbook author and a cooking instructor at The China Institute in New York City – ‘In China, honey walnuts are served with cold platters or sometimes as complementary nibbles for cocktails – many people enjoy them with their afternoon tea.
350g(¾ lb) freshly shelled walnut halves
2 tablespoons sugar
700 – 900ml (24-32 fl.oz /3-4 cups) peanut oil

Bring 900ml-1.2L (1½ - 2pints/4 - 5 cups) of water to the boil in a wok or medium-size saucepan over high heat. Add the walnuts and boil for 5 minutes (to remove the bitter taste). Strain out the walnuts and then run cold water over them. Strain again then return the nuts to the wok.

Add (900ml/32fl.oz/4 cups) of fresh water and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes. Repeat the straining process. Set the nuts aside to drain.

Wash the wok. Then add 50ml(2fl.oz1/3 cups) of cold water. Bring to the boil over a medium-high heat. Add the sugar and boil, constantly stirring, for 1 minute. Add the walnuts. Stir and cook until the walnuts are coated with sugar and the remaining liquid has evaporated.

Remove the walnuts and set aside on a well-greased baking sheet. Wash the wok with extremely hot water to remove the sugar. Dry thoroughly.

Heat the of peanut oil in the wok over a high heat until very hot (you will see a wisp of white smoke). Carefully add the walnuts and fry until golden brown 2 to 3 minutes.

Mardee’s Yogurt Chutney

This chutney makes a great dip for cruditées, topping for rice or baked potatoes, or condiment for grilled meat or fish.
Serves 6

350ml (12fl.oz/1 ½ cups) plain yogurt
2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped Scallion
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Cardamom seeds from 6 pods
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Whisk the yogurt in a bowl until smooth. Stir in all of the rest of the ingredients, adding more of any to taste. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour to let the flavours develop.

Serve the chutney with grilled fish, chicken, or lamb, as a topping for potatoes or rice or as a spread inside a pita pocket. The chutney keeps for up to 2 weeks if covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator.

Grandma Dora’s Chopped Liver

The secret to this dish is boiling the livers and chopping each ingredient by hand in a wooden bowl or on a chopping board, best served on rye bread.
450g (1lb) chicken livers, cleaned and rinsed
1 white onion, finely chopped
6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
About 2 tablespoons melted butter (or rendered chicken fat)
Dash of paprika
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 

Immerse the livers in plenty of boiling water, cover and boil gently until the livers are firm, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain well. Chill in the refrigerator for 40 minutes.

Using a sharp knife, chop the livers to a smooth paste. Using a wooden spoon, mix together half of the liver, onion, and eggs. Add the remaining liver, onion and eggs and stir to combine completely. Add enough of the melted butter to moisten and hold the liver together. Add the paprika. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Zabar’s Scallion Cream Cheese Spread

The bagel is one of New York’s typical brunch favourites, this silky scallion cream cheese spread comes from Zabar’s , Manhattan’s Upper West Side’s famous food emporium. The spread is simple and addictive and can be used as a dip, a spread for croutons or crackers or on top of baked potatoes. Keeps well covered in the refrigerator.
450g (1lb) cream cheese, at room temperature 
125ml (4fl.oz/½ cup) of sour cream
Pinch of salt
Pinch of garlic powder 
75g (3oz/½ cup chopped scallions 

Combine the cream cheese, sour cream, salt and garlic powder in a large bowl and stir until well mixed and smooth. Stir in the scallions. Serve on crackers or toasted bagel rounds. 

Le Cirque’s Crème Brulee

Sirio Macciono of the famous Le Cirque Restaurant in New York adapted this crème brulee from a crema he ate in Spain in 1982, which had a caramelized sugar topping so thick that it had to be broken with a small hammer. This version has a thinner elegant caramel crackle and can be tapped with the most elegant silver spoon.
Serves 8

900ml (32 fl.oz/4 cups) double cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Pinch of salt 
8 large eggs
175g (6ozs (¾ cup plus 2 tablesp.) granulated sugar
8 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Place eight cup ramekins in roasting pan.

In a saucepan over low heat combine the cream, vanilla bean and salt. Warm for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks and granulated sugar. Pour in the hot cream and stir gently to combine. Strain the custard into a jug and skim off any bubbles.

Pour the custard into the ramekins, filling them up to the rim. Place the roasting pan in the oven and carefully pour warm water in the pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Loosely cover the pan with aluminium foil and bake until set, 1 ¾ hours.
Remove the ramekins from the water bath and allow to cool. Cover individually and refrigerate. For at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.

When ready to serve, preheat the grill.

Uncover the ramekins and place them on a baking sheet. Top each with 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar and using a metal spatula or knife spread the sugar evenly over the custards. Grill the custards until the sugar caramelises, 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 4 hours. 

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This is a great do-ahead dish for a crowd, keeps well and reheats like a dream.
Serves 4-6

1 tablesp. butter
1 tablesp. plain flour
725ml (24/fl.oz/3 cups) milk
1 teasp. salt
dash of freshly ground white pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
225g (8oz) grated Cheddar cheese
225g (8oz) elbow macaroni, fully cooked and drained
110g (4oz/½ cup) tinned tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 teasp.sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Grease a 1½ quart baking dish.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour, then add the milk, salt and both peppers. Stir almost constantly until the mixture thickens and is smooth, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cheese and cook, stirring, until it melts. Remove from the heat.

In a mixing bowl, combine the macaroni and the sauce. Stir in the tomatoes and the sugar. Transfer the macaroni mixture to the greased baking dish. Bake until the surface browns, 30-40 minutes.

Sophie Grigson’s Ruggelach

At one time there were fine bakeries on every street corner in New York, not as many now, but there are still some traditional pastry shops selling handmade pastries like Ruggelach, but Sophie Grigson’s version is my favourite.
Makes 16

110g (4oz) cream cheese
110g (4oz) softened butter
150g (5oz) flour

50g (2oz) pale brown sugar
½ teasp. cinnamon
35g (1½oz) walnuts, finely chopped
25g (1oz) raisins, chopped

1 egg, beaten
castor sugar

Beat the cream cheese vigorously with the butter until well mixed and softened. Gradually beat in the flour. Gather up into a ball and wrap in foil or cling film. Chill for 30 minutes.

Mix the sugar with the cinnamon, walnuts and raisins. On a lightly floured board, roll the pastry out into a 33cm(12 inch) circle. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle the filling evenly over the pastry. Cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper and run the rolling pin over it a couple of times to fix the filling firmly into the pastry. Lift off the paper.

Divide the circle up like a cake into 16 triangles. Roll up each one, starting with the wider end, as if you were making a croissant. Arrange on a baking sheet, brush with egg, and sprinkle with castor sugar. Bake at 200C/400F/gas 6 for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. 

Foolproof Food

Blackberry, Apple and Sweet Geranium Jam

All over the countryside every year, blackberries rot on the hedgerows. Think of all the wonderful jam that could be made - so full of Vitamin C! This year organise a blackberry picking expedition while they are still on the brambles.
Blackberries are a bit low in pectin, so the apples help it to set as well as adding extra flavour. If you have some sweet geranium leaves they are a wonderful addition, but it is quite delicious without them.
Makes 9-10 x 450 g/1 lb jars approx.

2.3 kg (5 lbs) blackberries
900 g (2 lbs) cooking apples (Bramley, or Grenadier in season)
1.8 kg (4 lbs) sugar (use (225g) 2 lb less if blackberries are sweet)
150ml (5fl.oz) water
8-10 sweet geranium leaves - optional

Wash, peel and core and slice the apples. Stew them until soft with 150ml (5fl.oz) of water in a stainless steel saucepan; beat to a pulp. Warm the sugar. 

Pick over the blackberries, cook until soft, adding about 100ml (3½ fl.oz) water if the berries are dry. If you like, push them through a coarse sieve to remove seeds. Put the blackberries into a wide stainless steel saucepan or preserving pan with the apple pulp and the heated sugar. Destalk and chop sweet geranium leaves and add to the fruit. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved. 

Boil steadily for about 15 minutes. Skim the jam, test it for a set and pot into warm spotlessly clean jars.

Hot Tips

Slow Food Cork Festival – Food Market in Patrick Street today 10-6 – don’t miss it.
More than 60 artisan food producers from all over Ireland.

Midleton Farmers Market – next Saturday 1st October, Gene Cunningham who sharpens knives will attend – so bring along your kitchen knives if they need sharpening.

Local Producers of Good Food in Cork by Myrtle Allen –

A revised edition of this invaluable little book published by Cork Free Choice Consumer Group is now available - €5 from Liam Ruiseal’s bookshop, Crawford Gallery Café, Ballymaloe Shop or by post from Myrtle Allen at Ballymaloe House for €6 including postage. 

Cork Free Choice Consumer Group meets on the last Thursday of the Month at 7.30pm (excluding December, June, July & August) at the Crawford Gallery Café, admission €6 including tastings. Next meeting Thursday 29th September –Speaker Jean Perry of The Glebe Gardens in Baltimore on Winter Vegetable Gardening – make the most of your polytunnel or glasshouse, harvest and store your crops, saving your seeds and resting your garden until Spring.

Youghal Through the Ages running from 23 September till 2nd October – Heritage programme focussing on ‘the Life and Times of Sir Walter Raleigh’ will feature an Elizabethan Market at Barry’s Lane on Saturday 1st October from 10 – 3, with street entertainment. Programme from Youghal Tourist Office Tel 024-20170 or visit 

Green Festival in the Northwest – 16 - 25 September, celebrating our environment , heritage, culture, food and economy, on – tomorrow Sunday 25th there will be an Organic Fair at the Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co Leitrim – Stalls of food, wines, crafts and much, much more - this is the single biggest organic event in the country and attracts hundred of visitors.  

Slow Food Cork Festival

Clodagh McKenna makes things happen. This swirling vivacious gastro-dame is the power behind the upcoming Slow Food Cork Festival 23-25 September 2005. In a year where there have been many highlights of the arts and music scene, there has been a serious dearth of foodie events. At last we have the celebration of Cork’s food culture and gastronomic bounty with this Slow Food Event. 
Kay Harte of the Farmgate Café in the Market tells me that another food event will be held in the English Market in October showcasing the best of market foods when they will launch the first book ever written about the market – this will be a historical account of Cork’s English Market written by Donal and Diarmuid O’Drisceoil and published by Con Collins.

Clodagh who was born by the banks of the Lee spent four years doing business studies in NYU in New York City. She was blown away by the variety of eating options in New York, particularly the huge ready-to-go food business. She came back to Ireland full of enthusiasm and ready to open an exciting ‘Grab, Gobble & Go’ outfit, but first she decided to do the Certificate Course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. After 12 weeks ‘indoctrination’ she became even more passionate about the need to source really good quality produce. A stint in Ballymaloe House working closely with Myrtle Allen on her stall at the Midleton Farmers Market followed and she gradually took over the stall from Myrtle and never looked back.

Myrtle who just last week won the Food and Wine Magazine Hall of Fame award would be up at 5am to show Clodagh how to make loaves of traditional soda bread for the market. Clodagh told me how excited she was to discover the Farmers Market ‘community’ and a whole network of new young foodie entrepreneurs, passionate about quality and who were like herself brimming with confidence and pride in the new and traditional artisan food products and local foods. 

She first heard about the Slow Food Movement in 2002 . The philosophy of celebrating differences in flavours, artisanal food production, small-scale agriculture, sustainable approaches to fishing and farming all appealed to her. Slow Food restores cultural dignity to food, promotes taste education and strives to defend biodiversity. 

She was involved in the organisation of the hugely successful Slow Food Weekends in Rosscarbery and Kenmare. Clodagh presented six different proposals for food events to the committee of Cork City of Culture, but much to her dismay food didn’t appear to be a priority. According to Clodagh the official 2005 Year of Culture Guide has about 50 pages on sport and not one mention of Cork’s number one culture – food.
The Slow Food Cork Festival will redress all that with backing and help from Musgraves, Febvre, Cork and Kerry Tourism, Failte Ireland and most of all Liz McAvoy in Cork City Challenge (our Slow Food Guardian Angel!) Slow Food plan to make this an annual event. 

The weekend starts on Friday night 23rd of September with a ‘Cork Schools Dinner’ at the Millennium Hall. The aim of the dinner is to raise awareness and funding for the ‘Cork Edible School Gardens Project’. Saturday morning will be dedicated to workshops, then in the afternoon there will be a huge farmers market on Patrick Street and a Cork City food tour. The ‘Slow Pub Trail’ starts at 7pm in Tom Barry’s Pub and ends at the Franciscan Well. Three of the five pubs will host fantastic Cork Artisan Producers selling plates of their food for €5. There will also be a quiz with a fabulous ‘food’ prize, please ask for further details in the pubs listed. 
Excursions will take place on Sunday to visit producers in Cork County. If you prefer to stay city centered Kino Art House Cinema will be showcasing ‘foodie movies’ all afternoon and further workshops will take place in UCC. The last event will be the ‘Slow Food Cork Awards’ recognising the sterling work and innovative enterprise of Ireland’s leading artisan food producers, chefs and quality food retailers. Additional categories will also acknowledge the work of food journalists and volunteers who work promoting the merits of quality Irish produce. Throughout the festival various restaurants in the city will be offering Slow Food menus – please visit   for more information.

Clodagh and her team or volunteers are hoping that the whole of Cork will slow down and enjoy the convivial weekend that they have organised with something exciting and delicious for everyone to sample.

Farmgate Café Corned Mutton with Caper Sauce

Kay Harte shared this recipe with us – delicious corned mutton or corned beef feature all the time on the menu at the Farmgate Café in the market, otherwise there would be lots of disappointed customers.

Paul Murphy of Paul Murphy butchers in the Market corns the mutton for about 4 days and its absolutely mouthwatering.

1 leg of corned mutton
béchamel sauce – see recipe

Weigh the leg of mutton and boil for approx. 20 minutes per lb in a large saucepan. Remove from the saucepan and place on a serving dish. Keep warm. Keep the cooking liquid.

Make the béchamel sauce making up the liquid with half milk and half mutton cooking liquid. Add a little mustard to the sauce (you could use English mustard or Dijon mustard) and some chopped fresh capers. Slice the mutton and serve with the sauce.

Kay serves it with steamed jacket potatoes and mashed carrot and turnip. She cooks the vegetables in some of the mutton cooking water to give a delicious flavour. 

Well worth a detour for!

Béchamel Sauce

½ pint (300ml) milk or half milk and half meat cooking liquid as suggested by Kay Harte
A few slices of carrot
A few slices of onion
A small sprig of thyme
A small sprig of parsley
3 peppercorns
1½ ozs (45g) roux (see below)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

This is a marvellous quick way of making Bechamel Sauce if you already have roux made. Put the cold milk ( or half and half) into a saucepan with the carrot, onion, peppercorns, thyme and parsley. Bring to the boil, simmer for 4-5 minutes, remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain out the vegetables, bring the milk back to the boil and thicken with roux to a light coating consistency. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, taste and correct the seasoning if necessary.

4 ozs (110g) butter
4 ozs (110g) flour

Melt 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.

Tripe and Onions
This recipe was given to me by Michael Ryan of Isaacs Restaurant in Cork, for my book on Traditional Irish Cooking, this was how his father cooked tripe and onions.

1 lb (450g) tripe
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
salt and freshly ground pepper
cold milk - sufficient to cover


Put the tripe into a saucepan, with the lid on, place on gas ring for 8-10 minutes approx. 
Discard the liquor in the pot, add the sliced onion and cover with cold milk. Simmer gently for 1 hour approx. until the tripe is tender. Strain off the milk, thicken with roux, season with salt and pepper. Strain the back into the saucepan with the tripe, heat through. Check seasoning, it will take quite a bit of pepper.
Serve on a slice of buttered white bread.

Tripe and Drisheen

After adding the thickened liquor back to the saucepan, you could if you wish add some drisheen to the tripe - peel and slice some cooked drisheen, add it to the saucepan and heat through before serving.
Tripe in Batter

2 lb (225g) tripe
batter - see below

Wash the tripe in hot water. Put it into boiling water and simmer for 20 minutes, skimming well. When quite tender, take out the trip, dry it, cut in pieces about 2 inches (5cm) square and allow it to become perfectly cold. Put the fat into a frying pan, when hot dip the pieces of tripe into the batter and fry at once.


4 ozs (110g) flour
2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoon pepper
5 fl. ozs (150ml) milk

To make the batter, put the flour and salt into a basin, make a hole in the centre, pour in the liquid gradually, beating till the batter is quite smooth.

Pigs Head 

My children were appalled at the unmentionable bits that they occasionally glimpsed while I tested recipes for my Traditional Irish Food book, pigs tails, bodice, tripe, drisheen .... such a lily-livered lot, this generation!

Pigs Head and Cabbage

Half a pigs head
a head of cabbage
a lump of butter

Remove the brain and discard. Wash the pigs head well. Put in a large saucepan and cover with cold water, bring to the boil, discard water and continue to cook in a covered saucepan for 3-4 hours or until the meat is soft and tender and almost lifting off the bones. 

Meanwhile, remove the outside leaves from the cabbage, cut into quarters and remove the centre core. Cut into thin strips across the grain, about 30 minutes before the pig's head is cooked add the cabbage and continue to cook until the cabbage is soft and tender and the pigs head is fully cooked through.

Devotees of pig's head would simply surround the pigs head with cabbage on a plate and serve this. However, for a less dramatic presentation and ease of carving, the bones can be removed and the pigs head cut into slices. Don't forget to give each person a piece of tongue and ear. The Pig's ear is a particular favourite.


The Irish name for salted pigs trotters have long been a
favourite in Ireland the front feet are considered to be sweeter and more meaty and succulent than the back legs which are less meaty and more grisly and best used for their gelatinous quality they give to and pies
Crubeens were regular in pubs, a particular favourite with not only the customer but also the publican who was fully aware of the thirst they provoked!
Serves 6

6 Crubeens
1 large onion
1 large carrot
1 bay leaf
5 or 6 parsley stalks
a good sprig of thyme
a few peppercorns
enough cold water to cover well

Put all the ingredients into a large pot, cover with plenty of cold water, bring to the boil, skim. Boil gently for 2 or 3 hours or until the meat is soft and tender. Eat either warm or cold with a little mustard if you fancy.

Ballymaloe Spiced Beef 
Although Spiced Beef is traditionally associated with Christmas, in Cork we eat it all year round! It may be served hot or cold and is a marvellous stand-by, because if it is properly spiced and cooked it will keep for 3-4 weeks in a fridge.
Serves 12-16

3-4 lbs (1.35kg-1.8kg) lean flap of beef or silverside

Ballymaloe spice for beef

This delicious recipe for Spiced Beef has been handed down in Myrtle Allen's family and is the best I know. It includes saltpetre, nowadays regarded as a health hazard, so perhaps you should not live exclusively on it! Certainly people have lived on occasional meals of meats preserved in this way, for generations.
The recipe below makes enough spice to cure 5 flanks of beef, each 4 lbs (1.8kg) approx in size.

8 ozs (225g) demerara sugar
12 ozs (340g) salt
½ oz (15g) saltpetre (available from chemists)
3 ozs (85g) whole black pepper
3 ozs (85g) whole allspice (pimento, Jamaican pepper)
3 ozs (85g) whole juniper berries

Grind all the ingredients (preferably in a food processor) until fairly fine. Store in a screw-top jar; it will keep for months, so make the full quantity even if it is more than you need at a particular time.

To prepare the beef: If you are using flank of beef, remove the bones and trim away any unnecessary fat. Rub the spice well over the beef and into every crevice. Put into an earthenware dish and leave in a fridge or cold larder for 3-7 days, turning occasionally. (This is a dry spice, but after a day or two some liquid will come out of the meat.). The longer the meat is left in the spice, the longer it will last and the more spicy the flavour.

Just before cooking, roll and tie the joint neatly with cotton string into a compact shape, cover with cold water and simmer for 2-3 hours or until soft and cooked. If it is not to be eaten hot, press by putting it on a flat tin or into an appropriate sized bread tin; cover it with a board and weight and leave for 12 hours.

Spiced Beef will keep for 3-4 weeks in a fridge.

To serve: Cut it into thin slices and serve with some freshly-made salads and home-made chutneys, or in sandwiches.

Smoked Cod with Parsley Sauce

O’Connells fish mongers in the English Market tell me that Smoked Cod is a very popular Cork dish at this time of the year.
Serves 6

6 portions of smoked cod (allow 170 g/6 ozs approx. filleted fish per person)
1 tablesp.finely-chopped onion
Salt and freshly ground pepper
30 g (1 oz) butter
1 tablesp. freshly chopped parsley
Light cream or creamy milk to cover the fish, approx. 300 ml (½ pint)
Roux – see bechamel sauce recipe.

15 g (½ oz) butter 

Melt the butter in a pan. Fry the onion gently for a few minutes until soft but not coloured. Put the cod in the pan and cook on both sides for 1 minute. Season with salt and freshly- ground pepper. Cover with cream or creamy milk and simmer with the lid on for 5-10 minutes, until the fish is cooked. Remove the fish to a serving dish. Bring the cooking liquid to the boil and lightly thicken with roux. Whisk in the remaining butter, add the chopped parsley, check the seasoning. Coat the fish with sauce and serve immediately with floury potatoes or some creamy mash.

This dish can be prepared ahead and reheated and it also freezes well. Reheat in a moderate oven 180ºC/350ºF/regulo 4, for anything from 10-30 minutes, depending on the size of the container.

Carrigeen Moss Pudding

Carrigeen moss is bursting with goodness. I ate it as a child but never liked it as it was always too stiff and unpalatable. Myrtle Allen changed my opinion! Hers was always so light and fluffy. This is her recipe, it’s the best and most delicious. We find that visitors to the country are fascinated by the idea of a dessert made with seaweed and they just love it. The name comes from little rock.
Serves 4-6

8g (¼oz) cleaned, well dried carrigeen moss (1 semi-closed fistful)
850ml (12pint) milk 
1 tablespoon castor sugar
1 egg, preferably free range
2 teaspoon pure vanilla essence or a vanilla pod

Soak the carrigeen in tepid water for 10 minutes. Strain off the water and put the carrigeen into a saucepan with milk and vanilla pod if used. Bring to the boil and simmer very gently with the lid on for 20 minutes. At that point and not before, separate the egg, put the yolk into a bowl, add the sugar and vanilla essence and whisk together for a few seconds, then pour the milk and carrigeen moss through a strainer onto the egg yolk mixture whisking all the time. The carrigeen will now be swollen and exuding jelly. Rub all this jelly through the strainer and beat it into the milk with the sugar, egg yolk and vanilla essence if used. Test for a set in a saucer as one would with gelatine. Whisk the egg white stiffly and fold or fluff it in gently. It will rise to make a fluffy top. Serve chilled with soft brown sugar and cream and or with a fruit compote eg. Blackberry and apple or poached rhubarb

Foolproof Food

Compote of Blackberry and Apples with Sweet Geranium Leaves

A delicious Autumn dessert.
Serves 3 approx.

225g (8 ozs) sugar
450ml (16fl ozs) water
4 large dessert apples eg. Worcester Pearmain or Cox’s Orange Pippin
275g (10 ozs) blackberries
8 large sweet geranium leaves (Pelargonium Graveolens)

Put the sugar, cold water and sweet geranium leaves into a saucepan, bring to the boil for 1-2 minutes. Peel the apples thinly with a peeler, keeping a good round shape. Quarter them, remove the core and trim the ends. Cut into segments 5mm (1/4inch) thick. Add to the syrup. Poach until translucent but not broken. Cover with a paper lid and lid of the saucepan. 

Just 3-5 minutes before they have finished cooking, add the blackberries, simmer together so that they are both cooked at once.

Serve chilled, with little shortbread biscuits.

Hot Tips

Cork Coffee Roasters is a new, gourmet coffee micro-roaster owned and operated by Master Coffee Roaster, John Gowan. He specialises in small batch coffee roasting, using only the highest quality Arabica beans. 
The company offers for sale a number of specialty roasts, but is best known for their Full City Blend Espresso. Orders are taken online at  or it can be purchased at the Bubble Brothers located in the English Market.
Try some today and taste the best and freshest coffee currently available in Ireland.

Congratulations to Myrtle Allen on receiving a Hall of Fame Award from Food and Wine Magazine –‘ For her outstanding contribution to Ireland’s gastronomic development.’

AstroPuppees ‘Sugar Beat’
Singer-songwriter-producer Kelley Ryan’s fourth album ‘Sugar Beat’ was released on 26th August. Kelley fell in love with Ireland and particularly with ‘The People’s Republic of Cork’ during her time attending the 3 month Cookery Course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School some years ago. In addition to the cookery classes she found time to compose songs for the first AstroPuppees album as well as play at local pubs. She now divides her time between Co Cork and Los Angeles and is as much at home in the kitchen as the recording studio.

Educating our Children to Eat Well

As children around the country return to school, two of Ireland’s top food organisations are taking action so that ‘back to school’ does not have to mean ‘back to junk’. ‘A is for Apple: Educating our Children to Eat Well’ was the topic for discussion at the 4th National Food Forum & Fair at Brooklodge, Co. Wicklow, which is organised annually by Euro-toques Ireland, the Irish branch of the European Community of Chefs.
At the forum Euro-toques called on the government to take urgent action to work towards changing children’s diets and proposed a national programme throughout primary schools to educate children about all aspects of food and eating. Euro-toques, in conjunction with Slowfood Ireland, today also launched a pilot programme of School Food Workshops. Ireland’s two major food organisations, which collectively represent chefs, food producers and consumers, will visit 10 schools around the country during the autumn term carrying out workshops which cover origin and growing of food, food tastings, food preparation & healthy lunchbox ideas. These workshops take a hands-on approach which empowers children to make good choices about what they eat. 

Speaking at the event, Euro-toques Commissioner and Chef/Proprietor of Chapter One Restaurant Ross Lewis commented; “We feel that the situation in terms of children’s diets and eating habits is reaching crisis point. Eating unhealthy food is set to create a massive public health crisis and we feel this must be tackled pro-actively from the ground up. But for Euro-toques this is not just about obesity and health problems, it is about an overall attitude to eating and food culture. That is why we advocate a holistic approach to educating children about all aspects of the food chain and giving them an appreciation of food and taste”.

“With my own children I have aimed to introduce them to a wide variety of food from a young age”, he added, “We believe that all children should have access to a wholesome and balanced diet”.
The recent National Children’s Food Survey carried out by the Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance shows that:
One in four girls and one in five boys between the ages of 5 and 12 in Ireland are now overweight or obese. 
Children are consuming 40% more fat than they need and that one fifth of their calories is obtained from biscuits and other high fat treats. 
salt intake is too high.
Fruit and vegetable consumption is half what is required, and some children eat no fruit and vegetables whatsoever, many are malnourished despite adequate or excessive calorie intake, as their diet is made up of processed foods which are low in nutrients. 
If this trend continues we are certain to seeing growing rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain cancers. . This is, of course, partly due to changes in lifestyle and a decrease in physical activity, but diet also has an obvious part to play. 

The discussion was opened by Euro-toques Commissioner-General Martin Dwyer who spoke of the need for parents to take control of what their children are eating and to bring children back to the table; “Appetites educated on the high sugar, high flavour foods which hide under the label of convenience will never enjoy the gentle subtlety of crunching into a sweet young carrot, or relish the mouthful of the ocean that is a piece of fresh fish”.

Restaurants were increasingly being asked to serve chicken nuggets, funny fish and burgers to children who refuse to eat anything, because they are constantly grazing between the fridge and the microwave. Anne O’Hara who is responsible for the food of 300 children in Wilson’s Hospital School in Multyfarnham, made a plea for vending machines to be banned in schools unless they can be used for healthy snacks.

The Forum continued with a panel discussion chaired by John Bowman. The panel included executive council member of Slowfood International Giacomo Mojoli, Mairead McGuinness MEP, Chairman of Unilever Foods Paul Murphy, Food Writer Hugo Arnold. The event also included a colourful day long Farmers Market featuring about 50 small food producers from across Ireland. Among the large and varied range of stall-holders were Govenders Indian Delights, The Gallic Kitchen, Irish Seedsavers, The Organic Herb Company, Denis Healy’s Organic Vegetables and Oisin Healy’s Pancakes, Straight Sausages, Wicklow Fine foods, Glenboy Goats Products and many more too numerous to mention them all. The farmhouse cheesemakers too were well represented, among them were Corleggy, Gubbeen, Cratloe, Ardsallagh and Crozier Blue cheeses, Sheridans Cheesemongers were there also. 

Evan Doyle owner of Brooklodge at Macreddin Village, Co Wicklow, served a delicious buffet which included some local food in season and delicious fresh organic vegetables from Gold River Organic Farm in Aughrim, Co Wicklow. Brooklodge also had a stall selling their own organic brown bread which is baked in their licensed organic bakery on the premises.

Euro-Toques was established in 1986 in Brussels as a guardian of European culinary heritage and as a lobby group addressing the concerns of Europe’s top chefs about food quality and the future of food.  

Slowfood, founded in 1986, is an international organisation whose aim is to support artisan and traditional food producers and protect from the homogenisation of modern fast food and life. It encourages its members to slow down and sit down to enjoy meals with family and friends around the table. Through a bio-diversity of initiatives it promotes gastronomic culture, develops taste education, conserves agricultural biodiversity, and protects traditional foods at risk of extinction. Slow Food is gathering momentum around the world and now boasts over 80,000 members in over 100 countries.  

Some lunchbox or after school recipes to tempt those reluctant eaters. 

Foolproof Food


Play around with whatever fresh fruit you have, at its simplest it could be just banana and yoghurt. A few blueberries would be delicious just now.

Banana and Yoghurt Smoothie

Serves 1-2
225ml (8fl oz) natural yoghurt
1 ripe banana
1 teaspoon honey (optional)

Peel the banana, chop coarsely, blend with other ingredients in a liquidizer until smooth.
Pour into a beaker and cover tightly.

Fruit and Nuts
For a healthy lunchbox snack mix together a few raisins, hazelnuts and cashew nuts.

Frittata with Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Chorizo and Goat’s Cheese

Frittata is an Italian omelette. Kuku and Spanish tortilla all sounds much more exciting than a flat omelette although thats basically what they are. Unlike their soft and creamy French cousin, these omelettes are cooked slowly over a very low heat during which time you can be whipping up a delicious salad to accompany it! A frittata is cooked gently on both sides and cut into wedges like a piece of cake. Omit the tomato and you have a basic recipe, flavoured with grated cheese and a generous sprinkling of herbs. Like the omelette, though, you’ll occasionally want to add some tasty morsels however, to ring the changes perhaps some spinach, ruby chard, Calabreze, asparagus, smoked mackerel, etc. The list is endless but be careful don’t use it as a dustbin - think about the combination of flavours before you empty your fridge!
A mini frittata cooked in a muffin tin makes a tasty and nutritious addition to the lunch box or an after school snack. Children will have their own favourite additions. 
Serves 6-8

450g (1lb) ripe or sun-blushed tomatoes 
1 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 large eggs, preferably free range
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
4 teaspoons thyme leaves
2 tablespoons basil, mint or marjoram
110-175g (4-6oz) chorizo, thickly sliced, cut into four
40g (11/2oz) Parmesan cheese, grated
25g (1oz) butter
110g (4oz) soft goat’s cheese
Extra virgin olive oil

Non-stick pan 10cm (7 1/2in) bottom, 23cm (9in) top rim

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

Arrange in single layer in a non-stick roasting tin. Cut the tomatoes in half around the equator season with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Roast for 10-15 or until almost soft and slightly crinkly. Remove from the heat and cool. Alternatively use sun-blushed tomatoes. 

Whisk the eggs in a bowl, add the salt, freshly ground pepper, fresh herbs, chorizo and grated cheese into the eggs. Add the tomatoes, stir gently. Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan. When the butter starts to foam, tip in the eggs. Turn down the heat, as low as it will go. Divide the cheese into walnut sized pieces and drop gently into the frittata at regular intervals. Leave the eggs to cook gently for 15 minutes on a heat diffuser mat, or until the underneath is set. The top should still be slightly runny.

Preheat a grill. Pop the pan under the grill for 1 minute to set and barely brown the surface. 
Slide the frittata onto a warm plate. 
Serve cut in wedges with a good green salad and perhaps a few olives. 
Alternatively put the pan into a preheated oven 170°C/325°F/gas 3. Alternatively cook mini frittata in muffin tins (for approximately 15 minutes). Serve with a good green salad.

Variation for a yummy vegetarian alternative omit the chorizo and add 110g (4oz) grated Gruyère cheese to add extra zizz.

Top Tip: The size of the pan is very important, the frittata should be at least 3 cm (11/4in) thick. It the only pan available is larger, adjust the number of eggs, etc.

Tomato and Basil Soup

We worked for a long time to try and make this soup reasonably fool-proof. Good quality tinned tomatoes (a must for your store cupboard) give a really good result. Homemade tomato purée although delicious can give a more variable result depending on the quality of the tomatoes. Careful seasoning is crucial so continue to season and taste until you are happy with the result.

Serves 6

1¾ pints (750 ml) homemade tomato purée or 2 x 14 oz (400 g) tins of tomatoes, liquidized and sieved
1 small onion, finely chopped
½ oz (15 g) butter
8 fl ozs (250 ml) Béchamel sauce (white) (see recipe)
8 fl ozs (250 ml) homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil
Salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar
4 fl ozs (120 ml) cream

Whipped cream
Fresh basil leaves

Sweat the onion in the butter on a gentle heat until soft but not coloured. Add the tomato purée (or chopped tinned tomatoes plus juice), Béchamel sauce and homemade chicken stock. Add the chopped basil, season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes.

Liquidize, taste and dilute further if necessary. Bring back to the boil, correct seasoning and serve with the addition of a little cream if necessary. Garnish with a tiny blob of whipped cream and some basil.

*Tinned tomatoes need a surprising amount of sugar to counteract the acidity.
* Fresh milk cannot be added to the soup – the acidity in the tomatoes will cause it to curdle
Note: This soup needs to be tasted carefully as the final result depends on the quality of the homemade purée, stock etc.

Tomato and Mint Soup
Substitute Spearmint or Bowles mint for basil in the above recipe.

Béchamel Sauce

1 pint (300 ml) milk
Few slices of carrot
Few slices of onion
3 peppercorns
Small sprig of thyme
Small sprig of parsley
1½ozs (45 g) roux (see recipe)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

This is a wonderfully quick way of making Béchamel Sauce if you have roux already made. Put the cold milk into a saucepan with the carrot, onion, peppercorns, thyme and parsley. Bring to the boil, simmer for 4-5 minutes, remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain out the vegetables, bring the milk back to the boil and thicken to a light coating consistency by whisking in roux. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, taste and correct seasoning if necessary.

Tomato and Coconut Soup

Substitute Coconut milk for béchamel in the above recipe


110 g (4 ozs) butter
110 g (4 ozs) flour

Melt 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.


These have a high sugar content which gives them their delicious and characteristic crust, so keep for an occasional treat.
32 ozs (100g) butter
7 ozs (200g) golden organic castor sugar
2 eggs
2 teasp. pure vanilla extract
2 ozs (55g) best quality dark chocolate
3 ozs (85g) white flour
2 teasp. baking powder
3 teasp. salt
4 ozs (110g/1 cup) chopped walnuts

1 x 8 inch (20.5cm) tin lined with silicone paper

Melt the chocolate in a pyrex bowl over hot but not simmering water.

Cream the butter and sugar and beat in the lightly whisked eggs, the vanilla extract and melted chocolate. Lastly stir in the flour, baking powder and chopped nuts. Spread the mixture in the square tin and bake in a moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4, for approx. 30-35 minutes.

Cut into 2 inch (5cm) squares for serving. 

Cruditees with Dips

Cruditees simply means raw vegetables, but to be really delicious you’ll need 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. Garlic mayonnaise is great but you could use a variety of yummy dips.
Pack them in deep plastic containers or a bright spotty beaker, a nutritious and delicious way to make a little vegetable go a long way.

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.
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

Typical 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 garlic mayonnaise 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. Provide a little tub of garlic mayonnaise in the centre and then your friends can help themselves. 

Hot Tips

West Cork Leader Co-op is launching an exciting new initiative website for primary schools to encourage healthy eating among children. The package is called  which takes the approach to presenting food in a fun and interactive manner. The pilot programme is currently being run in 3 West Cork schools and 1 Cork based school. Other schools please take note! 

Food Safety Authority of Ireland have recently produced an information leaflet with simple advice for convenient and nutritious lunchbox ideas – available from the helpline 1850 404 567 or on line at  

Green Festival in the Northwest – running 16 - 25 September, celebrating our environment , heritage, culture, food and economy, on – Sunday 25th there will be an Organic Fair at the Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co Leitrim – Stalls of food, wines, crafts and much, much more - this is the single biggest organic event in the country and attracts hundred of visitors.

My Grandchildren are of school going age

Well, Summer is almost over. It’s that time of year again when families are gearing up for the school term, so I can return to one of my major preoccupations, the food we feed our children. Now that some of my grandchildren are of school going age, I’m even more concerned about the endless struggle to protect them from gobbling down rubbish.
What a help it would be to parents if the Minister for Health were to forbid or even discourage the fast food outlets from giving free toys and drinks to their young children. It would also be a heck of a lot easier to get kids to eat a bowl of delicious and nourishing porridge if all the other kids in school weren’t collecting the toys out of cereal packets. What public spirited supermarket chain will take the health of our children seriously and support tormented mothers by removing the crisps, fizzy drinks and sweets off every colour and hue from beside the tills and replace them with fruit. Would the positive PR and the gratitude of demented mothers not be worth the loss of revenue?
What we put in our children’s mouths is much more important than what we put on their bodies or in their brains.
In fact it is increasingly obvious that what they eat affects not only their physical growth and immune system but their behaviour and ability to concentrate.
Jamie Oliver’s television series highlighted the deplorable state of school meals in the UK. The Soil Association, the UK’s most highly respected organic organisation, highlighted the problem when they launched the Food for Life Pilot scheme with five schools in 2003. 
They quickly discovered that children were being fed what Peter Melchett, former Minister of the Environment called ‘muck off a truck’. He used this much quoted term to describe the low quality and low price processed foods that were dominating school dinners served by contract caterers.
This was not a slur on dinner ladies but a condemnation of the food they were forced to feed with a budget of 31p per child for lunch.
Jamie’s tv series sent shock waves through the UK. In an election year the government was quick to respond so the budget has been increased somewhat. Turkey twizzlers and chicken nuggets have been dropped from many school menus and many new initiatives are underway. Better still, it focused everyone’s attention, albeit for a brief period on the deteriorating quality of food as a result of the fixation on producing the maximum food at the minimum cost to the detriment of quality and nutritional content. The reality that much of the food we now eat is nutritionally deficient, a fact well known by the FDA, is gradually dawning on more and more people.
In Ireland few schools provide school lunches so the responsibility falls fairly and squarely on parents to provide a nutritious school lunch which we hope the kids will eat. There is no excuse for schools who sell soft sugary drinks, crisps or sweets to kids, no headmaster or headmistress can plead ignorance at this point. The fact that the profits are reinvested in sports facilities or computers is hardly a logical response.
In the UK the school meal revolution, pre Jamie Oliver, was spearheaded by one feisty dinner lady Jeanette Orrey who is on a mission to improve the food our children eat. She has been catering manager at St Peter’s Primary School, East Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, for fourteen years. She is also schools meals policy advisor to the Soil Association and travels around the country talking about what has been achieved at St Peter’s and encouraging other schools to implement the Food for Life targets. She has won numerous awards, including the Observer Food Award for ‘The Person who has done most for the food and drink industry’ in 2003. She lives in Nottingham with her husband and has three sons.
Jeanette believes in simple, traditional dishes with the occasional modern twist, made with the freshest local, seasonal and –where possible – organic ingredients. Now she has written a unique family cookbook full of tasty, healthy and practical recipes that are easy to make and can be enjoyed whatever age you are.
The book also tells the inspirational story of how Jeanette has become Britain’s most vocal campaigner for good food for our kids. In a climate of rising child obesity and of constant food-related scares, The Dinner Lady’s quiet food revolution reveals how to put Jeanette’s simple ideas into practice. Also included are her tips, after years of experience, on getting even the fussiest children interested and excited by food, both at school and at home; guidance for busy parents on how to make life in the kitchen easier; notes on nutrition, organics and the hidden dangers of processed food; and how to make mealtimes a truly enjoyable experience.

Reuben’s Deli Wraps

– from The Dinner Lady published by Bantam Press at £16.99
Serves 4

450g (1lb) chicken breast
olive oil
225g (8oz) iceberg lettuce
225g (8oz) white cabbage
225g (8oz) carrots
115g (4oz) Cheddar cheese
115g (4oz) mayonnaise
25g (1oz) tomato ketchup
4-8 tortilla wraps

Preheat the oven to 120C/250F/gas ½

Cut the chicken meat into fine slices and stir-fry in a little oil in a heavy-based pan until thoroughly coated. (If making a larger quantity, bake the chicken strips in the oven preheated to 200C/400F/gas 6 for 5-10 minutes until thoroughly cooked.)
Finely shred the lettuce and cabbage, and grate the carrots and cheese. Mix together the grated vegetables and cheese. Mix together the mayonnaise and tomato ketchup to make a sauce.
Brush the tortilla wraps with a little oil and put in the low preheated oven for 2 minutes to warm through.
Spoon a little of the sauce over the wraps, lay a slice or two of the chicken strips along the wrap and put a spoonful of the vegetable and cheese mix on top. Wrap up and serve.

Real Chicken Nuggets

This is one of the simplest recipes in the book. Get the children to help you make them – they love tossing the chicken in a bag of breadcrumbs. Serve with some home-made tomato sauce or relish.
Serves 4

225g (8oz) bread (brown or white)
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 egg
125ml (4fl.oz) milk
900g (2lb) diced chicken

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6

Slice the bread, then toast it until light brown. Break up into pieces, crusts and all, and reduce to fine crumbs in the food processor. Add the garlic powder and paprika, and whiz again. Place the breadcrumbs in a large plastic freezer bag or deep tray.
Beat the egg in a large bowl with the milk, and add the chicken pieces, in batches if necessary. Transfer the chicken pieces to the bag or tray of breadcrumbs and toss to coat evenly.
Arrange the crumbed chicken on a lightly greased baking sheet, and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes until browned and crisp, and cooked through.

Cheesy Yorkshire Puddings

Jeanette says ‘When I make these, I always leave the batter mixture to rest for about 20 minutes. Then, just before I put the liquid into the tin, I give the batter one last whisk. The puddings always seem to rise better this way – try it! Serve with some good local sausages, mashed potato and seasonal vegetables.
Makes about 24 small puddings
Serves 4 

225g (8oz) plain flour
a pinch of ground pepper
2 eggs
600ml (1 pint) milk
115g (4oz) cheddar cheese
olive oil

Sift the flour and pepper together into a bowl. Add the eggs and half the milk, and beat well until smooth. Beat in the remaining milk. Leave to rest for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven well to 220C/425F/gas 7. Grate the cheese.
Grease patty or Yorkshire pudding tins with olive oil and put into the hot oven for 5 minutes. Take out of the oven and divide the batter mix between the tins. Quickly add a little cheese to each Yorkshire, and bake in the very hot oven until well risen and golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Tuna Pasta Bake

This is a firm favourite with the children and teaching staff alike and is so easy to make.
Serves 4

225g (8oz) spring onions
olive oil
2 x 185g cans tuna in brine
225g (8oz) frozen peas
450g (1lb) dried pasta

Cheese Sauce
115g (4oz) cheddar cheese
25g (1oz) butter
25g (1oz) plain flour
600ml (1 pint) milk
a pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas 3

Cut the green of the spring onions into 5mm(¼in) lengths, and finely slice the remaining white onion. Stir-fry the spring onions for 1-2 minutes in a little oil.
Drain the tuna well, and flake into a bowl. Grate the cheese for the sauce.
Cook the peas in boiling salted water until tender, about 5 minutes. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente.
To make the sauce, melt the butter, add the flour and cook until sandy in colour and texture. Add the milk, whisking all the time, and when it is smooth and has thickened, add the cheese, keeping a little back for the topping. Stir in the cayenne.
Mix the pasta, peas, spring onion, tuna and cheese sauce in a deep dish, sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese and bake in the preheated oven until golden on top, about 25 minutes.

Cowboy Casserole

This is very easy and children love it. If you buy good quality sausages and bacon, less fat will come out of them. If you do see some fat, drain it off before adding the beans. Use low sugar and salt baked beans for this recipe, and serve with a jacket potato.
Serves 4

16 thin sausages
225g (8oz) diced lean bacon
2 x 400g cans baked beans

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6.

Cut the sausages into small pieces. Put these into a deep tin with the bacon, and bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until just golden brown.
Add the beans to the sausage and bacon, cover with tin foil or a lid, and cook for a further 25-30 minutes. Serve hot.

Sneaky Pie

Jeanette calls this pie ‘sneaky’ because of the veg it has in it. They are ‘hidden’ in the baked beans. Use low sugar and salt baked beans.
Serves 4

225g (8oz) plain flour
a pinch of cayenne pepper
55g (2oz) butter or margarine
55g (2oz) vegetable shortening
25ml (1oz) water

Filling and topping

900g (2lb) potatoes
50ml (2fl.oz) warm milk
25g (1oz) butter or margarine
1 small onion
1 carrot
1 courgette
½ red pepper
½ green pepper
olive oil
1x 400g can baked beans
115g (4oz) cheddar cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas 3.

For the pastry, sift the flour and cayenne pepper into a bowl. Cut the margarine and vegetable shortening into cubes, add to the flour and rub in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the water and mix with a knife until you have a dough. Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge to chill, before rolling it out and using it to line a 20-23cm (8-9in) flan tin. Neaten the edges and bake blind (lined with foil and baking beans or dried beans) in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes. Remove, and turn the oven tup to 200C/400F/gas 6.
Peel the potatoes and cook in boiling water for about 15-20 minutes. Drain and mash the potatoes with the warm milk until very smooth, then add the butter or margarine.
Peel the onion and carrot. Trim the courgette and seed the peppers. Dice all the vegetables into small pieces, and sweat to soften in a little olive oil.
Pour the baked beans into the flan case then layer the vegetables over them. Finally smooth the potato on the top. You can sprinkle a little grated cheese over the flan if liked. Bake in the hot oven for about 20 minutes.

St. Peter’s Mud Pie

This is a dessert that’s fun to make with kids.
Serves 4

225g (8oz) digestive biscuits
55g (2oz) glace cherries
175g (6oz) butter
1 tablespoon drinking chocolate
115g (4oz) castor sugar
115g (4oz) mixed dried fruit
115g (4oz) milk chocolate

Break the biscuits into smallish pieces. Wash the glace cherries of their sticky coating, dry them and chop into smallish pieces.
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the drinking chocolate and the sugar to the pan and mix together, then add the dried fruit, broken biscuits and chopped glacé cherries. Mix until all the ingredients are combined.
Line a 20-23cm (8-9in) round flan tin with foil, and pour in the mixture. Press down with the back of a spoon and place in the fridge for about 2 hours.
Break the chocolate into pieces and melt over an indirect heat (in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water). Pour the melted chocolate over the top of the chilled mixture, and spread, using a palette knife. Chill until set. Cut into pieces.

Jam Roly-Poly

This is a firm favourite in the winter term, served with fresh custard made with local milk.
Serves 4

350g (12oz) self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
175g (6oz) butter or margarine
200ml (7fl.oz) milk
350g (12oz) raspberry jam

If baking, rather than steaming, preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5

Sift the flour and baking powder together, then coarsely grate the butter or margarine into the flour. (This can be done easily if the fat has been kept in the freezer). Mix to a soft dough with the milk.
Roll the dough into a rectangle of about 30x20cm (12x8in). Lift onto a baking sheet covered with greaseproof paper. Spread the dough with jam, leaving a border of 1cm (½ in) all round. Brush this border with water, and fold over a little dough at either end to seal the jam inside. Roll the dough up like a Swiss roll, using the greaseproof paper. Wrap in loose foil and seal with string at each end.

Bake in a roasting tray in the preheated oven for 1 hour.
Foolproof Food

Jane’s Coleslaw

Jane makes this every day for the children and they love it. It can also be made up to a day in advance and kept in the fridge.
250g (9oz) red cabbage
175g (6oz) carrots
2 tomatoes
½ cucumber
110g (4oz) dried apricots
1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Finely shred the red cabbage and put into a large bowl. Peel and grate the carrots, and add to the bowl.
Quarter the tomatoes and remove the seeds, then chop the flesh roughly. Split the cucumber lengthways and remove the seeds with a teaspoon. Cut into long strips then cut across to make fine dice. Chop the apricots into dice.
Add the tomato, cucumber and apricot to the cabbage and carrot with the mayonnaise, and mix well.

Hot Tips 

Vegetable Seed Saving – Sunday 4th September at Madeline McKeever’s, Ardagh, Church Cross, Skibbereen, West Cork.
Help preserve our heritage varieties by saving your own seeds. You’ll learn about the biology of pollination and how to separate, dry and store your own seed. You’ll also be developing West Cork’s unique local food.
Contact Madeline on 028-38184  

New Farmers Market in Youghal on Friday mornings from 10.00am in Barry’s Lane

Irish Blueberries now in season – feast on them while you can.

Midleton Food Fair

“Way over our expectations”, “professionally managed and organised”, “a resounding success” were some of the responses made by the stallholders after the inaugural Midleton Food and Drink Festival in September 2004.
The hard working organising committee headed up by Sean Woodgate were delighted with the response, 20,000 people poured into Midleton over the weekend to taste what became known as the Feast of the East. The festival was sponsored by “Jameson Irish Whiskey” and “Dart”. The latter is an abbreviation for Developing Active regions of sustainable tourism is a project commissioned under the European Intemreg IIL programme – the Irish porters are E-CAD 1.

Spurred on by last year’s success, a bigger and ever better festival is planned. Retailers, hoteliers, publicans and entertainers are pooling their talents to provide a memorable experience for all ages, - it will be a real family event. Lots of fun for the children, face painting, mime jugglers, acrobats, stilt walkers, balloon artists, puppet shows and circus workshops. There will be kiddies cooking classes in Midleton Park Hotel, great music from the Midleton Brass bands – a wonderful Irish rural tradition that we can be so proud of. Midleton Comhaltas and String Quartet will also be delighting the visitors. 

This year there will be over 60 stalls selling everything from roast suckling pig to local and Thai band crafts. Midleton Farmers market will be out in force selling local food so bring a few large shopping bags so you can fill them brimful with delicious local food. 

Midleton Food and Drinks Festival, Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th September 2005. For further details see

Dan Aherne’s Traditional Roast Stuffed Organic Chicken

Dan’s chickens take 12 weeks to reach maturity. They are fed on organic feed and range freely on his farm in Dungouney, East Cork. Every Thursday and Saturday, customers queue at his stalls in Mahon Point and Midleton to by the flavourful chickens.
Serves 6

4½ - 5 lbs (1.5 - 2.3kg) free range organic chicken preferably with giblets

Giblets (keep the liver for a chicken liver pate), and wishbone
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 stick celery
A few parsley stalks and a sprig of thyme

12 ozs (45g/3 tablesp.) butter
3 ozs (85g/: cup) chopped onion
3-32 ozs (85-100g/12-1: cups) soft white breadcrumbs
2 tablesp. (2 American tablesp. + 2 teasp.) finely chopped fresh herbs eg. parsley, lemon thyme, chives and annual marjoram
Salt and freshly ground pepper
A little soft butter

Sprigs of flat parsley

First remove the wishbone from the neck end of the chicken, this isn't at all essential but it does make carving much easier later on. Tuck the wing tips underneath the chicken to make a neat shape. Put the wishbone, giblets, carrot, onions, celery and herbs into a saucepan. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil, skin and simmer gently while the chicken is roasting.

Next make the stuffing, sweat the onions gently in the butter until soft, 10 minutes approx. then stir in the crumbs, herbs, a little salt and pepper to taste. Allow it to get quite cold. If necessary wash and dry the cavity of the bird, then season and half fill with
cold stuffing. Season the breast and legs, smear with a little soft butter. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/regulo4. Weight the chicken and allow about 20 minutes to the lb and 20
minutes over. Baste a couple of times during the cooking with the buttery juices. The chicken is done when the juices are running clear. To test, prick the thickest part at the base of the thigh and examine the juices: they should be clear. Remove the chicken to a carving dish, keep it warm and allow to rest while you make the gravy. To make the gravy, spoon off the surplus fat from the roasting pan. Deglaze the pan juices with the fat free stock from the giblets and bones (you will need :-1 pint depending on the size of the chicken). Using a whisk, stir and scrape well to dissolve the caramelised meat juices from the roasting pan. Boil it up well, season and thicken with a little roux if you like. Taste and correct seasoning. Serve in a hot gravy boat.

If possible serve the chicken on a nice carving dish surrounded by crispy roast potatoes and some sprigs of flat parsley then arm yourself with a sharp knife and bring it to the table. Carve as best you can and ignore rude remarks if you are still practicing but do try to organise it so that each person gets some brown and some white meat. Serve with gravy and bread sauce.

Willie Scannells Gratin of Potato and Wild Mushrooms

Willie is famous for the flowery potatoes grown on his farm overlooking Ballyandreen in East Cork. He too has a cult following at the midleton farmers market.
Serves 6

If you have a few wild mushrooms eg. chantrelles or field mushrooms, mix them with ordinary mushrooms for this gratin. If you can find flat mushroom, all the better, one way or the other the gratin will still be delectable.

1 ½ lb (700g) 'old' potatoes, eg. Golden Wonders or Kerrs Pinks
2 lb (225g/4 cups) mushrooms, cultivated mushrooms, or a mixture of cultivated mushrooms, brown mushrooms, oyster mushrooms and shitake
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pint (300ml/13 cups) light cream
3 tablesp. (4 American tablesp.) grated Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano), or Irish mature Cheddar cheese

Ovenproof gratin dish 10 inch (25.5cm) x 82 inch (21.5cm)

Slice the mushrooms. Peel the potatoes and slice thinly. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the potato slices to the boiling water. As soon as the water returns to the boil, drain the potatoes. Refresh under cold water. Drain again and arrange on kitchen paper or a clean tea towel. 

Grease a shallow gratin dish generously with butter and sprinkle the garlic over it. Arrange half the potatoes in the bottom of the dish, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover with the sliced mushrooms. Season again and finish off with a final layer of overlapping potatoes. 

Bring the cream almost to boiling point and pour over the potatoes. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for ½ an hour approx. at 180°C/350°F/regulo 4, until the gratin becomes crisp and golden brown with the cream bubbling up around the edges. 

This gratin is terrifically good with a pangrilled lamb chop or a piece of steak.

Ardsallagh Goat Cheese and Thyme Leaf Soufflé
Local goat cheese makers Jane Murphy sell a range of 8 or 10 cheeses made from the sweet milk of their 400 goats on their farm outside Carrigtwohill in East Cork.

Serves 6

In season: year round

We bake this soufflé until golden and puffy in a shallow oval dish instead of the traditional soufflé bowl it makes a perfect lunch or supper dish.

90g (3oz) butter
40g (1½ oz) flour
300ml (½ pint) cream
300ml (½ pint) milk
a few slices of carrot
sprig of thyme, a few parsley stalks and a little scrap of bay
1 small onion, quartered

5 eggs free range organic, separated
110g (4oz) crumbled goat cheese, we Ardsallagh goat cheese
85g (3oz) Gruyere cheese
55g (2oz) mature Coolea or Desmond farmhouse cheese (Parmesan – Parmigiano Reggiano or Regato may also be used)
a good pinch of salt, cayenne, freshly ground pepper and nutmeg
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Garnish: thyme flowers if available

30cm (12 inch) shallow oval dish (not a soufflé dish) or 6 individual wide soup bowls with a rim

Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/regulo 8

Brush the bottom and sides of the dish with melted butter.
Put the cream and milk into a saucepan, add a few slices of carrot, a quartered onion, 4 or 5 peppercorns and the fresh herbs. Bring slowly to the boil and allow to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain and discard the flavourings, (we rinse them off and throw them into the stockpot if there is one on the go.)

Melt the butter, add the flour and cook for a minute or two. Whisk in the strained cream and milk, bring to the boil and whisk until it thickens. Cool slightly. Add the egg yolks, goat cheese, Gruyere and most of the Coolea or Desmond (or Parmesan if using.) Season with salt, freshly ground pepper, cayenne and nutmeg. Taste and correct seasoning. Whisk the egg whites stiffly and fold them gently into the mixture to make a loose consistency. Put the mixture into the prepared dish, scatter the thyme leaves on top and sprinkle with the remaining Coolea or Desmond cheese. 

Cook for 12-15 minutes, or until sides and top are nicely puffed up and golden, the centre should still be creamy. Garnish with thyme flowers.
Serve immediately on warm plates with a good green salad.

Siobhan Barry’s Rainbow Chard

Serves 4
Siobhan and David Barry grow a huge range of vegetables on their farm in Ballintubard including some unusual and exotic varieties. Look out for them at the Midleton Food and Wine Fair and the Mahon Farmers Market every week.

There are several ways of using Swiss or Ruby chard stalks including tossing them in Vinaigrette or olive oil and lemon juice or serving them in a Mornay sauce however this way is particularly delicious and also works well with Florence fennell and courgettes which have been blanched, refreshed and sliced first. Intersperse the courgettes with a few leaves of basil if you have them to hand.

1 lb (450g) ruby chard
Butter or olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Wash the chard in cold water, drain. Pull off the leaves and slice the stalks into pieces about 1 inch (2.5cm) long. Cook the stalks in boiling salted water until almost tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 3 or 4 minutes. Add the leaves, toss and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until the leaves are wilted. Drain very well. Toss in extra virgin olive oil, season with lots of freshly ground pepper and serve immediately.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Basil, Olive Oil and Irish Honey

The Ballymaloe Cookery School stall has a unique selection of heirloom tomatoes of all shapes and sizes. Red, yellow, black, striped, round, pear shaped, oval. They make a divine tomato salad with fresh buffalo mozzarella and lots of fresh basil.
Serves 4

8 very ripe heirloom tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 dessertspoon pure Irish honey
3 tablespoons Mani extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh basil leaves

Cut the tomatoes into ¼ inch (5mm) thick slices, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix the oil and honey together and add 'torn' basil leaves, pour over the tomatoes and toss gently. Taste, correct seasoning if necessary. A little freshly squeezed lemon juice enhances the flavour in a very delicious way.

Foolproof Food

Frank Hederman’s Smoked Salmon Pate

Frank sells smoked wild, organic and farmed salmon, wild – smoked mussels, eels, mackerel, haddock and sprats etc. Frank sells a selection of his products at his stall in Midleton and Mahon Point every Saturday and Thursday.
This is a delicious way to use up smoked salmon trimmings.

Smoked salmon trimmings
Softened butter, unsalted

Remove any skin or bones from the fish. Weigh the flesh. Add three quarters the weight in butter. Blend to a smooth puree. Fill into pots and run clarified butter over the top. Alternatively, mould in a loaf tin. Turn out and cut in slices when set.

Hot Tips 

Bia 2 – Second Irish food studies symposium
This will take place at Sligo and the Irish Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co Leitrim on 22-23 September as part of the Green Festival North West – see
Bia is all about the study of food. It attracts a broad range of people who share an interest in food – sociologists, restaurateurs, historians, chefs, anthropologists, vegetable growers, retailers, journalists, food safety experts – anyone who is passionate about food and eating, and in understanding more. To book, contact Perry Share or Oliver Moore, bia2, Dept of Humanities, Institute of Technology, Sligo. Tel 071-9155340,  

Growing Awareness Farm Walk on Sunday 28th August at Doire Dubh (Black Oak Trees) Coomhola, Bantry.
Graham Strouts has a small Permaculture plot on 4 acres with native tree nursery, orchard and fruit bushes, young plantings of coppice species, yurts and a reciprocal-framed cordwood roadhouse. Situated about 8 miles north of Bantry the land descends in a series of natural terraces to the Coomhola river. Contact Graham Strouts on 027 66931  

The Bretzel Bakery in Dublin’s South Richmond Street has been in operation since the 1870’s.
It inspires love and loyalty in the hearts of Dubliners and is still known as the Jewish bakery and even though the Kosher certificate is no longer there, the tradition and quality remains. The recipes and the sitting room sized double-decked brick oven have not changed much in the past 100 years. The bakery was in the ownership of various Jewish families until the 1960’s when Christe Hackettt took it over from Ida Stein, however it remained strictly Kosher until the mid 1990’s, it was under the custodianship of the Hackett family until the end of the century when ill-health forced a sale. A new century – a new owner, William Despard stepped in to revitalize this institution which is the Bretzel Bakery. Its history parallels the history of the Jewish community in Dublin. The streets stretching from Portobello to Clanbrassil Street were once the heartland of a vibrant Jewish community – now a museum at Richmond Hill and the Bretzel are the only lingering Jewish landmarks.

Catherine and Vincent ‘Donovan’s roadside stall on the main Cork to Innishannon road about a mile from the Halfway Roundabout sell sweet juicy sweet corn. They are open every day and hope to have sweet corn for the next month or so, if you would like to order some for the freezer ring Vincent on 087 2486031.

Food lovers should make a note in their diaries for the Cork Slow Food Weekend, 23rd -25th September 2005. Event organiser Clodagh McKenna has scheduled a meeting for volunteers at the Bodgea on the Coal Quay in Cork on Tuesday 30th August at 7.00pm. All are welcome.

A Glut in the Garden

For vegetable gardeners this is the season of both delight and frustration. Delight at the abundance in the garden and frustration at not being able to use it all quickly enough. Visitors get given baskets of beautiful fresh produce.
In Spring it’s so easy to get carried away. It’s tempting to sow a whole packet of lettuce seed forgetting they will all develop into soft frilly or crunchy heads at exactly the same time. There’s a limit to how many salads one can eat no matter how delicious they are yet when you lovingly grow vegetables and fruit its heartbreaking to see even a little go to waste, so here are some delicious ways to use up the surplus. 
Wilted lettuce with lots of fresh herbs is a really yummy way to use up a glut. Simply wash, dry and roughly slice the lettuce – you’ll need 4 reasonable size heads for 4 people because like spinach it dissolves in the cooking. Minutes before you are ready to eat, just heat a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a wok or frying pan over a high flame, toss in the shredded lettuce. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and continue to toss over the highest heat. The lettuce will exude lots of liquid, keep tossing for 2 or 3 minutes, add 3 or 4 tablespoons of freshly chopped herbs e.g. mint, tarragon. Taste and correct the seasoning and serve in a hot dish. 

You can also ring the changes in many delicious ways – a good pinch of chilli flakes in the olive oil adds plenty of excitement. Freshly roasted and crushed of coriander seeds and a fistful of flat parsley is also delicious. The latter also makes a luxurious puree if there is more than can be reasonably used. Parsley pesto is also good, and parsley and potato soup is another favourite. 

Remember that all herbs and vegetables are at their best for eating before they go to seed. They become coarse in texture and bitter in flavour as they put their energy into ensuring the continuation of the species.

As a gardener it’s fun to allow a few plants to flower and run to seed, they change shape, elongate and look wonderfully dramatic in the garden. The reality is it’s devilishly difficult to predict how much to grow. As a gardener we need to come to terms with the fact that there is always likely to be a little more than we can comfortably use or share with friends. The great thing is not to fuss but to look on a glut as an opportunity to bulk up the compost heap which will enrich the fertility of the soil to grow even better vegetables next year – so there’s really no need to feel any quiet pangs.

Beans of all shapes and sizes can of course be frozen. They’re best blanched and refreshed first which is horribly time consuming and fills one with resentment on sunny Summer days. Why not allow the beans to mature, the seeds will enlarge and fill the pods. They can be eaten as shell beans in the Autumn. Alternatively allow the beans to dry and then shell and store them for Winter stews and casseroles – a delectable source of guilt-free protein. Later in the Autumn I’ll provide some delicious recipes to utilise dried beans and pulses.

Pickled Beetroot and Onion Salad

Serves 5-6
1 lb (450g) cooked beetroot (see above)
8 ozs (225g) sugar
16 fl ozs (475ml) water
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced (optional)
8 fl ozs (250ml) white wine vinegar

Dissolve the sugar in water, bringing it to the boil. Add the sliced onion and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add the vinegar, pour over the peeled sliced beet and leave to cool.
Note: The onion can be omitted if desired.

Roast Beetroot with Ardsallagh Goat Cheese and Balsamic Vinegar
Serves 4

6-12 baby beetroot, a mixture of red, golden and Clioggia would be wonderful
Maldon Sea Salt
Freshly cracked pepper
Extra Virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
170g (6oz) goat cheese -Ardsallagh or St. Tola
Rocket and beetroot leaves
Wild garlic leaves if available

Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/regulo 8

Wrap the beetroot in aluminium foil and roast in the oven until soft and cooked through – 30mins to an hour depending on size.

To serve:
Rub off the skins of the beetroot, keep whole or cut into quarters. Toss in extra virgin olive oil.
Scatter a few rocket and tiny beetroot leaves on each serving plate. Arrange a selection of warm beetroot on top. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and Balsamic vinegar. Put a dessert spoonful of goat cheese beside the beetroot. Sprinkle with Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper. Garnish with tiny beet greens or wild garlic flowers and serve.


- from Good Housekeeping Complete Book of Home Preserving
3kg (6lb) mixed marrow, cucumber, beans, small onions and cauliflower (prepared weight- see method)
375g (12oz) salt
275g (9oz) granulated sugar
15ml (1 level tablesp.) mustard powder
7.5ml (1½ level teasp.) ground ginger
2 garlic cloves, skinned and crushed
1.5 L (2½ pints) distilled vinegar
50g (2oz) plain flour
30ml (2 level tablesp.) turmeric

Seed the marrow and finely dice the marrow and cucumber. Top, tail and slice the beans, skin and halve the onions and break the cauliflower into small florets. Layer the vegetables in a large bowl, sprinkling each layer with salt. Ad 3.6 litres (6 pints) water, cover and leave for 24 hours.
The next day, remove the vegetables and rinse and drain them well. Blend the sugar, mustard, ginger and garlic with 1 litre (2 pints) of the vinegar in a large pan. Add the vegetables, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are cooked but still crisp. Blend the flour and turmeric with the remaining vinegar and stir into the cooked vegetables. Bring to the boil and cook for 2 minutes. Spoon into pre-heated jars and cover immediately with airtight and vinegar-proof tops.

Lettuce and Mint Soup

Serves 6 approx.
Fresh mint is more fragrant in Summer than in Winter, so it may be necessary to use more towards the end of the season. Use the outside lettuce leaves for soup and the tender inside for green salads, great if all your lettuce comes together in the garden. It can be frozen for use later.

55g (2oz) butter
140g (5oz) peeled, diced onions
170g (6oz) peeled, diced potatoes
1 teaspoon salt approx.
Freshly ground pepper
170g (6oz) chopped lettuce leaves - stalks removed
900ml-1.2L (12-2 pint) homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock
2 teaspoons freshly chopped mint
1 tablespoon cream (optional)

55g (2oz) softly whipped cream
2 teaspoons of chopped mint

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. When it foams add potatoes and onions and turn them until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Add the stock and bring to the boil and cook until the potatoes and onions are soft. Meanwhile remove the stalks from the lettuce, chop finely, add the lettuce and boil with the lid off for about 4-5 minutes, until the lettuce is cooked. Do not overcook or the soup will lose its fresh green colour. Add the mint and cream if using, liquidise.
Serve in warm bowls garnished with a blob of whipped cream and a little freshly chopped mint.
Tip: Freshly chopped dill is also great with lettuce.

Tomato Puree
Note: Tomato Puree is one of the very best ways of preserving the flavour of ripe summer tomatoes for Winter however whole tomatoes also freeze brilliantly if you have room in your freezing cabinet. Use for soups, stews, casseroles etc.
2 lbs (900g) very ripe tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
Good pinch of salt 
A few twists of black pepper

Cut the tomatoes into quarters and put into a stainless steel saucepan with the onion, salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Cook on a gentle heat until the tomatoes are soft (no water is needed). Put through the fine blade of the mouli-legume or a nylon sieve.
Allow to get cold, refrigerate or freeze.

Tomato Fondue

Tomato fondue is one of our great convertibles, it has a number of uses, we serve it as a vegetable or a sauce for pasta, filling for omelettes, topping for pizza.
Serves 6 approximately 

115g (4ozs) sliced onions
1 clove of garlic, crushed 
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
900g (2lbs) very ripe tomatoes in Summer, or 2½ tins (x 14oz) of tomatoes in Winter, but peel before using
Salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar to taste
1 tablespoon of any of the following;
freshly chopped mint, thyme, parsley, lemon balm, marjoram or torn basil

Heat the oil in a non-reactive saucepan. Add the sliced onions and garlic toss until coated, cover and sweat on a gentle heat until soft but not coloured. It is vital for the success of this dish that the onions are completely soft before the tomatoes are added. Slice the fresh tomatoes or tinned and add with all the juice to the onions. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar (tinned tomatoes need lots of sugar because of their high acidity). Add a generous sprinkling of herbs. Cook uncovered for just 10-20 minutes more, or until the tomato softens. Cook fresh tomatoes for a shorter time to preserve the lively fresh flavour. Tinned tomatoes need to be cooked for longer depending on whether one wants to use the fondue as a vegetable, sauce or filling. Note: A few drops of Balsamic vinegar at the end of cooking greatly enhances the flavour.

Tomato Fondue with Chilli
Add 1 - 2 chopped fresh chilli to the onions when sweating.

Tomato Fondue with Kabanossi 
Add 1 – 2 sliced Kabanossi to the tomato fondue five minutes before the end of cooking, great with pasta.


Home made Pesto takes minutes to make and tastes a million times better than most of what you buy. The problem is getting enough basil. If you have difficulty, use parsley, a mixture of parsley and mint or parsley and coriander - different but still delicious.
Serve with pasta, goat cheese, tomato and mozzerella.

4ozs(115g) fresh basil leaves
6 – 8 fl ozs (175 - 250ml) extra virgin olive oil
1oz(25g) fresh pine kernels (taste when you buy to make sure they are not rancid)
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2ozs(55g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiana Reggiano is best)
Salt to taste

Whizz the basil with the olive oil, pine kernels and garlic in a food processor or pound in a pestle and mortar. Remove to a bowl and fold in the finely grated Parmesan cheese. Taste and season. 

Pesto keeps for weeks, covered with a layer of olive oil in a jar in the fridge. It also freezes well but for best results don't add the grated Parmesan until it has defrosted. Freeze in small jars for convenience.

Mint and Parsley Pesto
Substitute 2 ozs (55g) fresh mint and 2 ozs (55g) parsley for the basil in the above recipe.

Pea, Bean and Courgette Soup

This soup is made according to our basic soup formula 1,3,5, - 1 cup onion, 1 cup potato, 3 cups of any vegetable of your choice (which season) and 5 cups stock, so other delicious combinations can be used depending on what you have in your garden, larder or fridge.
Serves 6

12-2 ozs (45-55g) butter
6 ozs (170g) potatoes, chopped
5 ozs (140g) onions, peeled and diced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pints (1.1L) stock, chicken or vegetable
4 ozs (110g) French beans, chopped
5 ozs (140g) courgettes, chopped, cut into 3 inch (5mm) dice
5 ozs (140g) peas
Creamy milk, optional

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan, when it foams, add potatoes and onions and turn them until well coated in butter. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Add the stock, bring to the boil, and cook until the potatoes are soft. Add the French beans, cook for 5 minutes, then add the courgettes, cook for a further 5 minutes, lastly add the peas and cook for no more than 2 minutes, (keep the lid off the pot while the green vegetables are cooking to preserve the colour).
Liquidise, until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning. If necessary, the soup can be thinned to the desired consistency by adding a little creamy milk, extra stock or even water.
Note: If reheating a green soup remember to keep the lid off, just bring to the boil and serve immediately, prolonged simmering will spoil the fresh colour and flavour.

Red Currant Jelly

Red currant jelly is a very delicious and versatile product to have in your larder. It has a myriad of uses. It can be used like a jam on bread or scones, or served as an accompaniment to roast lamb, bacon or ham. It is also good with some rough pâtés and game, and is invaluable as a glaze for red fruit tarts.
This recipe is a particular favourite of mine, not only because it's fast to make and results in delicious intensely flavoured jelly, but because one can use the left over pulp to make a fruit tart, so one gets double value from the red currants. Unlike most other fruit jelly, no water is needed in this recipe.
We’ve used frozen fruits for this recipe also, stir over the heat until the sugar dissolves, proceeds as below.

Makes 3 x 1 lb (450g) jars

2 lbs (900g) red currants
2 lbs (900g) granulated sugar

Remove the strings from the red currants either by hand or with a fork. Put the red currants and sugar into a wide stainless steel saucepan and stir continuously until they come to the boil. Boil for exactly 8 minutes, stirring only if they appear to be sticking to the bottom. Skim carefully.
Turn into a nylon sieve and allow to drip through, do not push the pulp through or the jelly will be cloudy. You can stir in gently once or twice just to free the bottom of the sieve of pulp.
Pour the jelly into sterilised pots immediately. Red currants are very high in pectin so the jelly will begin to set just as soon as it begins to cool.

Foolproof Food
How to cook Beetroot
Leave 2 inch (5cm) of leaf stalks on top and the whole root on the beet. Hold it under a running tap and wash off the mud with the palms of your hands, so that you don't damage the skin; otherwise the beetroot will bleed during cooking. Cover with cold water and add a little salt and sugar. Cover the pot, bring to the boil and simmer on top, or in an oven, for 1-2 hours depending on size. Beetroot are usually cooked if the skin rubs off easily and if they dent when pressed with a finger. If in doubt test with a skewer or the tip of a knife.
Hot Tips 

Keelings Peppers –
Keelings the long established family vegetable, fruit, salads and flowers firm in North Co Dublin have opened a new pepper facility which will create 50 jobs and will be a major source of Irish peppers during the spring, summer and autumn, giving Irish consumers the choice of buying Irish grown peppers which will be on the shelves within a day of harvesting. Up to this year 95% of peppers were imported.
Peppers are an excellent form of Vitamin C when eaten raw. Red and yellow peppers contain almost as much Vitamin C as oranges. Peppers are high in antioxidants which are associated with the prevention of cardiovascular disorders, cataracts and cancers.

AstroPuppees ‘Sugar Beat’
Singer-songwriter-producer Kelley Ryan’s fourth album ‘Sugar Beat’ will be released on 26th August and to celebrate the release Kelley will do a live gig at the Blackbird in Ballycotton on Friday September 2nd at 9pm. Kelley fell in love with Ireland and particularly with ‘The People’s Republic of Cork’ during her time attending the 3 month Cookery Course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School some years ago. In addition to the cookery classes she found time to compose songs for the first AstroPuppees album as well as play at local pubs. She now divides her time between Co Cork and Los Angeles and is as much at home in the kitchen as the recording studio.

Foods Matter 
Foods Matter is a monthly subscription magazine which supports anyone on a restricted diet – food allertics, coeliacs, diabetics, IBS sufferers, depressives, children with ADHD hyperactivity disorder ….. it reviews new products, devises ‘everything free’ recipes, reports on research, runs a help line – for more information or a free copy of Foods Matter call 00 44 20 7722 2866 and speak to Laura or Michelle or check in 

Bravo to Fields Supermarket in Skibbereen for highlighting local produce in their vegetable section, other local supermarkets and shops please follow.

Preserving is Tremendous Fun

A few weeks ago I ran a course here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School called ‘How to keep a few chickens in the garden’, it was totally over-subscribed – I was thrilled because keeping hens has been one of my great passions ever since I was a child. Later in the year in October we have a course called ‘Everything but the Squeal’ with Frank Krawczyk, Frank will show how to use every bit of a pig – making brawn, pates, salamis, sausages, kassler, dry cured smoked bacon – even how to construct your own simple home smoker.
I’ve also had a request for a course on bee-keeping, how to rear a few turkeys for Christmas, how to make butter, simple cheese, how to grow a few simple vegetables – suddenly there seems to be a craving to learn forgotten skills which is music to my ears. I’ve always felt that we’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater in our headlong rush to forget the hard times and embrace modernity. Now that we are a bit more prosperous we’re determined to show the neighbours that we can afford to buy anything we like and don’t have to grow it or make it ourselves.
Well – guess what arrived on my desk this week – a book entitled ‘Preserved’ by Nick Sandler and Johnny Acton with a foreword by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, which is completely perfect for those of us who are becoming more and more disenchanted with the quality of mass-produced food and who are craving slow foods, cooked or preserved in the time-honoured way.
We are unquestionably witnessing a backlash against additive-heavy, mass-produced foods. Home-preserving – whether smoking, drying, salting, fermenting or infusing – is a hugely satisfying and often surprisingly simple process that enables you to prepare food just the way you like it, enjoying the fuller flavour that results from traditional techniques. For example, many shop-bought ‘smoked’ meats have merely been infused with ‘liquid smoke’, a process that undermines their rich taste. As more of us seek greater involvement with our food in the garden and the kitchen, a new generation is being seduced by modern interpretations of the age-old methods that produce the most delicious and rewarding results. Above all, preserving is tremendous fun. 
This book combines a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to the techniques of home-preserving with lots of exciting recipes to showcase the results, Preserved includes international favourites such as biltong, pickled eggs, herbes de provence and pancetta as well as familiar delicacies: smoked salmon, kippers, sloe gin and exquisite jams. Regaling us with anecdotes from the history of preserving – the practice among American World War II pilots of tying cartons of the ingredients to their planes to make ice cream, for example – Nick and Johnny show how to build your own smokehouse, bottle fruit in alcohol, dry herbs and cure ham. Preserving is alchemy. It is about transforming food, creating dishes that you will enjoy not only because they are cheaper and more flavoursome than shop-bought products, but because you will have crafted them to your own palate. It is also – as Nick and Johnny’s families will testify – addictive: once you have tasted your own efforts, you will be increasingly reluctant to return to inferior, mass-produced food.
Here are some of the many recipes from the book.

Goose Rillettes from ‘Preserved’
Rillettes consist of seasoned meat slowly cooked in fat, then teased apart and preserved in it.
1 goose, weighing around 4kg (9lb)
800g (1¾ lb) pork shoulder, boned
600g (1¼ lb) pork belly fat
3 bay leaves
3 thyme branches
8 black peppercorns
6 juniper berries

Remove the skin from the goose. De-bone the bird, then cut the meat into chunks, reserving any fat you come across.
Mince together the pork shoulder, belly fat and goose fat.
Combine all the ingredients in a large, heavy-based pan. Cook slowly 3 hours with the lid on, stirring occasionally. Don’t let the mixture stick. If it starts to, add a drop or two of water.
The goose meat will eventually start to fall apart. You can hasten the process by teasing it with a fork.
Sterilise some pots*. Take out the goose meat with a slotted spoon and press it down firmly into them. Pour the remaining fat on top, cover and leave to set in the fridge.
Serve with warm French bread and cheap rosé wine. The rillettes will keep for at least 2 weeks in the fridge.
*To sterilise the pots:
To sterilise jars or bottles, wash them in soapy water, rinse thoroughly, then immerse them in boiling water for 10 minutes before drying in a cool or recently switched-off oven. Ditto lids, seals and funnels if using. 

Dried Tomatoes

In recent times, sun- and semi-dried tomatoes have become indispensable to cooks wherever they happen to live. But unless you can reliably predict several days of breezy weather with low humidity and daytime temperatures in excess of 32C/90F, which is roughly never where we live, you’ll have to fall back on other options.
The chief options are using a dehydrator, a low oven with the door ajar or your home-made drying box. An ingenious alternative is to place a rack of tomatoes on the shelf under your car’s rear window on a hot day.

Fully dried tomatoes
Drying times will vary according to the size of your tomatoes, but as a rule of thumb, 15 hours in a low oven or 30 in a drying box is about right. However, tomatoes in any given batch will not dry at exactly the same rate, so you need to remove them individually as they become ready. This when they are firm but no longer juicy.
Whichever method you use, you have two main choices. The first is to cut the tomatoes in half and lay them face up on a fine-meshed rack, sprinkling a few grains of sea salt on each face. The second is to dry them intact on the vine. This involves lying the tomatoes on a similar rack, vine stalk down, before cutting a small cross in the top of each and filling it with a pinch of salt.
Once dried, tomatoes can be stored at ambient temperatures in sealable containers for up to 6 months. Before use, they will need to be rehydrated by soaking in warm water for half an hour. They should always be cooked before they are eaten.

Semi-dried tomatoes

As the name suggests, semi-dried tomatoes are removed from the source of heat half way through the drying process. They are then packed into sterilised pots which are filled with olive oil. These will keep in the fridge for up to 6 months. They are moist and more than good enough to incorporate in stews, sandwiches and sauces without further ado. We’ve achieved our best results using various varieties of cherry tomatoes.

Candied Peel
Candying can transform things you wouldn’t normally want to eat – in this case sour orange peel – into luxurious delights. Try dipping one end of the finished peel in molten dark chocolate and the other in granulated sugar.
One of ingredients here is glucose syrup. Its function here is to give the candied orange peel lustre and to prevent is surfaces from hardening.

1kg (2¼lb) navel orange skin* (this equates to 4-5kg (9-11lb) whole oranges)
1.8kg (4lb) caster sugar
200g (7oz) glucose syrup

*Try to get hold of unwaxed oranges. To skin them, cut into quarters and gently peel away the flesh. Alternatively peel them whole and use the fruit to make ‘Oranges in Brandy’.
Cut the skin into strips and simmer them in water for about 30 minutes until soft. Drain the strips, then place them in a saucepan along with 1kg (2½lb) of the sugar.
Cover with water so that none of the peel is protruding, then simmer for half an hour. Remove the syrup from the heat and leave it to cool with the saucepan lid on.
Next day, remove the strips of peel with a slotted spoon, then add a further 200g (7oz) sugar to the syrup and heat it to boiling point, making sure that all the ‘new’ sugar dissolves. Remove the syrup from the heat and replace the peel. Then leave the pan to cool for another 24 hours, again with its lid on.
Repeat the process three more times, adding 200g (7oz) of sugar to the syrup on each occasion until you have used it all up. On the fifth day you add the glucose syrup instead. Bring to the boil as before, then pour over the peel.
Leave the peel covered for 24 hours, then remove it and lay it out on greaseproof paper. Allow to dry for 24-48 hours until all moisture has disappeared but the peel is still soft.
Dip in granulated sugar and store between layers of greaseproof paper in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
Candied Orange Segments
You can also candy entire orange segments in this way, with the skin still attached to the flesh. Proceed exactly as above, simmering the segments for a time before combining them with sugar. When ready, they are wonderful dipped in chocolate.


Bresaola is soft, salted and air-dried beef eaten raw. The original and best examples hail from the Valtellina mountains on the borders of Italy and Switzerland. Cut into thin, succulent , almost translucent ruby-red slices and served with olive oil, lemon juice and parmesan, bresaola is one of the classic Italian starters.
To make bresaola.

1 large lean top rump (around 2kg/4½lb) tied tight with string
500ml (18fl.oz) red wine (eg Chianti)
2 teaspoons ground red chilli powder
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
6 bay leaves, shredded
750g (1lb 10oz) coarse salt
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
10 sprigs of rosemary, roughly chopped
10 sprigs of thyme, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons sugar

enough muslin to wrap the beef
red wine vinegar, for washing

Place the beef in a large Tupperware container and cover it with all the ingredients bar the muslin and vinegar. Massage them well in. Leave the meat to marinate in the fridge for 1 week, turning it over every day to ensure an even distribution of marinade.
After this period, brush the marinade off the beef and wrap it in muslin. Hang it in a dry, cool place for 1 month. It will drip for a day or two, so take appropriate measures to protect your floor.
The bresaola has matured when it feels firm to the touch. Once it is ready, wash it down with red wine vinegar, then dry it with a cloth. Store in the fridge, preferably in a container, for up to 1 month.

Salt Pork

Salt pork is usually made from pork belly and often from the fattier portions thereof. It can be either dry-cured or brined. We prefer the dry-curing method, and here’s how we do it.
To make salt pork

Take 5kg (1l lb) of pork belly and cut it into strips of about 1 kg (2¼lb)
Trim off the bones and make regular incisions in the skin. 
Get hold of a wooden box and sprinkle a layer of sea salt at the bottom.
Lay a single layer of pork on top, cover it with salt and massage it in a little. Repeat the process until all the pork is covered with salt, leaving a layer of salt on the top.
Place a lid on the box and leave in a cool place for 4 weeks. The juices will run from the base of the box as the salt draws them out by osmosis, so you will want to place a suitable receptacle underneath to catch them.
Every few days check to see that the pork is well covered with salt. If it isn’t, don’t be shy about adding some more.
When you remove the pork from the box, wipe it down with a cloth, then wrap it in muslin or in a paper bag and hang it in cool, dark, airy place. It will keep for years, though it will become harder as time goes by. You may want to halt the hardening process by transferring the pork to an airtight container and placing it in the fridge after a month or two.
If it is very hard, salt pork needs to be soaked before you cook with it. You may want to soak or at least rinse it thoroughly anyway, as it is unsurprisingly on the salty side.
Salt pork is delicious chopped up into small pieces and fried until crispy. It goes very well with rice, peas and salt cod
Foolproof Food

Righteous Raspberry Lollies

- from Preserved
These lollies contain no dairy products or refined sugar. You can suck on them with a clear conscience and allow your children to do the same.
300g (10½oz) raspberries
200g (7oz) clear honey
juice of 1 medium lemon
lolly moulds (available in catering shops and department stores)
ice-cream sticks*

*You can buy these in catering shops, alternatively, use wooden kebab skewers cut to size.
Heat the raspberries in a saucepan with the honey and lemon juice until the mixture comes to the boil. Remove from the heat and mash with a potato masher.
Pass the mixture through a vegetable mill or conical sieve to get rid of the pips.
Leave it to cool, then pour into the lolly moulds. Insert the lolly sticks, then freeze.
Hot Tips

Preserved by Nick Sandler and Johnny Acton, has just been published by Kyle Cathie Ltd, London. 
The Authors – Nick Sandler likes to cook while climbing, and unbelievably while playing the piano. A development chef, he comes up with new concepts in food and how to process and preserve them for retail customers such as delis and supermarkets.
Johnny Acton is an entrepreneurial writer/journalist whose career has included driving a mini-cab and writing obituaries for The Times. Johnny and Nick have co-written two previous books for Kyle Cathie Ltd – Soup and Mushroom.

Ballyknocken House and Cookery School, Glenealy, Ashford, Co Wicklow
Set in the beautiful ‘Garden of Ireland’ a charming Victorian Farmhouse famed for its country house cooking - is owned by our past pupil Catherine Fulvio – Catherine reached the top 20 finalists of AA Landlady of the Year for Britain and Ireland of out of over 4,500 B&B owners and also won the Wicklow Porridge Making Championship 2005 - Congratulations!  Tel 0404 44627 

Mna na Mara – early in 2003 Mna na Mara announced their intention to develop a coastal network of women in fishing and farming communities. They held their first of many events last April in Kilmore Quay with a cookery demonstration by former BIM staff member Phena O’Boyle, the evening was supported by BIM. The purpose of the evening was to bring women of the community together to progress their ideas – their objectives demonstrate a clear commitment to the preservation of traditional values while at the same time advancing technology and infrastructure in their localities. Details of forthcoming events will be published in the local press in different areas.

RELAY – research for the food industry is based in the Dairy Products Research Centre in Moorepark, Fermoy, Co Cork. It provides access to the research information and facilitates contact between the researcher and industry. For further information on any of the research products you can contact RELAY on 025-42321 or logon to  Relay is a national inter-institutional research dissemination project funded by FIRM through the Dept of Agriculture and Food under the National Development Plan.

Delicious Summer Salads

As soon as the weather gets warmer my craving for summer salads begins. The vegetable garden and greenhouse are bursting with fresh ripe produce begging to be harvested. We’ve had lots of broad beans, my absolutely favourite summer vegetable. The fresh peas never made it into the kitchen, we ate them all off the plants. The globe artichokes have now gone past their best for eating but the ones that survived my greed are now bursting into flower resembling giant blue and purple thistles.
Even though we have tempting recipes for every season summer is definitely the best time for salads – both vegetables and fruit are bursting with sunny flavour.
Salads have come a long way since my childish concept of lettuce, tomato, hardboiled egg, beetroot and maybe a few scallions. I still love that simple combination, particularly when served with the old-fashioned salad dressing, a gem of a recipe which was passed down in our family from Lydia Strangman, a Quaker lady who lived in the house in the 1900’s. 
Nowadays virtually anything can go into a salad, crisp and crunchy ripe juicy fruit, a myriad of salad leaves, Asian greens, fresh herbs of every colour and hue, edible flowers embellish a salad, rose petals, chive and zucchini blossoms, scarlet runners, violas all add magic. Tasty morsels of meat, fish – either fresh or smoked, make delicious additions. Shellfish are also irresistible.
Spices are a feature of many of our salads, particularly in winter and the components can be a combination of fresh and cooked, as with a potato salad. At this stage the salad has become such a varied and exciting concept that in the hands of a creative cook it almost defies definition. As ever, a salad is only as good as the sum of its parts and the quality of the ingredients is crucial to the wow factor of the finished dish.
Really good extra virgin olive oil and wine vinegar is an essential dressing for many salads, a good homemade mayonnaise is another asset. The latter takes less than 5 minutes to make by hand and the homemade variety raises a salad onto a new plain. Here are a few suggestions to tempt the tastebuds.

Shrimp and Rice Noodle Salad
Serves 8
450g (1lb) vermicelli noodles or fine rice noodles


110ml (4fl oz) soy sauce
50ml (2fl oz) rice or cider vinegar
50ml (2fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
1 thinly sliced red chilli
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons brown sugar or palm sugar

48 shrimps or 32 prawns, cooked and peeled
1 small organic cucumber
8 spring onion, sliced at a long angle
10g (1/2 oz) fresh coriander
10g (1/2 oz) fresh mint
110g (4ozs) chopped peanuts

Lime wedges

Put the noodles into a bowl. Cover with boiling water for 5-7 minutes or until just tender. Meanwhile make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a bowl. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved. 

Drain the noodles well and toss in the dressing while still warm. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds with a melon baller or a sharp spoon and discard. Cut the cucumber into thin slices at a long angle. Add to the noodles with the prawns, spring onions, whole coriander and mint leaves. Toss well, taste and correct the seasoning. Scatter with chopped peanuts and serve with wedges of lime.

Noodles of all types are a must have for your store cupboard, there are a million delicious salads you can make, they are also great added to soup or as an extra something in spring rolls.

Basmati Rice, Pea, Broad Bean and Dill Salad

225g (½lb) basmati rice
110g(¼lb) peas, shelled
110g(¼ lb) broad beans
4 tablespoons freshly chopped dill

Cook the rice in lots of boiling salted water. Meanwhile cook the peas and broad beans separately in boiling salted water, drain. As soon as the rice is cooked, drain. Put in a wide bowl drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and some freshly squeezed lemon juice. When cold add the peas and broad beans and freshly chopped dill. Toss, taste and correct the seasoning. 

Summer Salad with a Twist

You can vary this salad with whatever additions you have to hand, using a variety of summer salad leaves and baby spinach as a base.
Serves 8

350-500g (12-18oz) Summer leaves and baby spinach
1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cucumber, peeled and deseeded
6-8 tomatoes, chopped
rind of 1 preserved lemon, chopped, optional
1 handful of flat parsley, chopped
1 avocado, peeled and diced
6 spring onions, chopped
6 radishes, quartered

Verjuice vinaigrette:

3 shallots, peeled and finely diced
15ml (1 tablesp) lemon juice (juice of approx. ½ lemon)
45ml (3 tablesp.) white verjuice
125ml (4 fl.oz) extra virgin olive oil
2 tablesp. roughly chopped coriander
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the dressing:

Chop the shallots and macerate in lemon juice, verjuice and a good pinch of salt for 5-6 minutes.
Whisk in the olive oil. Add the coriander. Taste and correct the seasoning.

Combine all the salad ingredients except the summer leaves and baby spinach in a serving bowl and toss together lightly. Just before serving add the summer leaves and baby spinach and add enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the ingredients. Toss gently. Serve immediately.

Panzanella with Pan-grilled Chicken (Tuscan Bread Salad)

This is the best time of year for making Tuscan Bread Salad, the season of heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil. For this recipe, I use Declan Ryan’s sourdough bread from the Arbutus bakery. Pangrill the chicken breast and add to the salad to make an easy and delicious lunch or supper dish.
Serves 8

3-4 organic chicken breasts (weight 450g/1lb approx.)
olive oil
1 sprig of rosemary
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

450g (1lb) crusty sourdough country bread, cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) cubes
2-3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
125ml (4fl.oz) extra virgin olive oil
8 ripe tomatoes
1 red onion, roughly chopped
75g (3oz) black olives (weigh stoned)
1 bunch whole basil leaves, torn into ½ inch (1cm) pieces – about 24
2 tablesp. Balsamic vinegar
1 tablesp. white wine vinegar
125ml (4fl.oz) extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

Coat each side of the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle with chopped rosemary. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350f/gas 4. 
Put the garlic and olive oil in a large bowl. Add the croutons of bread all at once and toss to coat evenly. Spread the bread on a baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake until golden, 5-6 minutes.
Return the croutons to the bowl, add the onion, olives and basil leaves. Chop the tomato into 1 inch (2.5cm) pieces and add to the salad with all the juices.
Heat a pan grill over a medium heat. Cook the chicken breasts on both sides until the chicken is firm to the touch. Remove to a clean plate and let rest.
Cut the chicken into strips ½ inch (1cm) x 1 inch (2.5cm) and add to the salad. Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper together, toss to coat the salad. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Serve as soon as possible.

Smoked Irish Salmon or Gravlax with Thai Cucumber Salad

Serves 8

1-2 small cucumbers
125ml (4fl.oz) sunflower oil
1½ tablesp. nam pla (fish sauce)
50ml (2fl.oz) white wine vinegar
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tablesp. Thai sweet chilli sauce

8-16 slices of thinly sliced smoked salmon or gravlax
lime wedges

Slice the cucumbers lengthwise into thin strips with a peeler or cheese slicer. 
Whisk all the ingredients together for the dressing. Pour over the cucumber, toss gently.

To serve:
Arrange 1-2 slices of smoked salmon on a large white plate, put a portion of cucumber salad alongside. Garnish with a segment of lime. Repeat with the remainder.

Chorizo, Potato and Avocado Salad

Serves 4-6
2lb (900g) small potatoes (preferably waxy)
2 ozs (50g) walnut halves
1-2 fresh chorizo (depending on size)
2 fist fulls watercress sprigs or rocket leaves – enough for 4 people
1 Hass avocado 
1 lime


2 teaspoons whole grain honey mustard
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper

Scrub the potatoes, cook in boiling salted water for 15-20 minutes or until just tender. Drain. Meanwhile make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together (add a little honey if honey mustard is unavailable). 

Heat a frying pan, add a little extra virgin olive oil, add in the walnuts and toss over a gentle heat until roasted and fragrant. Remove to a bowl. Slice the chorizo â…“" thick and add to the pan. Cook over a medium heat until the oil runs and the chorizo begins to crisp. 

Peel and slice the potatoes. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss with a little of the dressing while still warm. Add the chorizo, chorizo oil and walnuts to the potato. Sprinkle a little dressing over the watercress sprigs or rocket leaves. 

Turn onto a wide shallow serving dish. Top with the potato, chorizo mixture. Peel and slice the avocado lengthwise or cube. Toss with a little freshly squeeze lime juice. Add to the salad. Drizzle with dressing, mix and lift gently to combine.

Satay Chicken Salad

Serves 6
The aromatic dressing that coats this moist crunchy salad is also delicious with fish and pork.

4 large handfuls mixed fresh organic salad greens
1 red pepper, quartered, deseeded, and finely sliced at an angle
3 tender stalks celery, thinly sliced at an angle 
2 pan-grilled or poached chicken breasts, skin removed and sliced
3 spring onions, finely sliced
150g (5oz) French beans, cooked 1-3 minutes in boiling salted water.
75g (3oz) roasted peanuts
2 tablesp. chopped coriander

Satay Dressing:

1 teasp. fresh ginger, finely grated
1 teasp. garlic, crushed
2 tablesp. peanut butter
250ml (8fl.oz) coconut milk
juice and finely grated rind of 1unwaxed lemon (no pith)
1 teasp. red chilli, chopped
2 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded, (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pan-grill or poach the chicken breasts, cool and slice.

Put the salad greens, pepper, celery, chicken, spring onions, beans, peanuts and coriander into a large mixing bowl.
Next make the dressing. Simply puree the dressing ingredients until smooth and creamy and toss through salad. Serve at once.

How to poach chicken breast with an Asian flavour. 
Put the chicken breasts in a saute pan so they can sit in a single layer. Cover with light chicken stock or cold water, add 4-5 thin slices fresh ginger, 1 small red chilli or a pinch of chilli flakes, a few black peppercorns, a good pinch of salt and a spring onion. Bring slowly to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, turn off the heat, cover the pot and allow the chicken to cool in the cooking liquid.

Baby Spinach, Beetroot and Sesame Salad

Serves 4
Baby spinach leaves (enough for 4 portions)
2 medium beetroot, peeled and cut into fine julienne

2 tablesp. rice vinegar
2 teasp. soy sauce
1 teasp. sesame oil
½ teasp. sugar

1-2 tablesp. toasted sesame seeds

Wash and dry the leaves, cut into strips if large. Peel and cut the beetroot into fine julienne. 
Whisk the ingredients together for the dressing.
Just before serving toss the spinach and beetroot with the dressing, sprinkle with freshly toasted sesame seeds and serve.

Foolproof food

Lydia Strangman’s Salad Dressing

2 hard-boiled eggs

1 level teasp. dry mustard
Pinch of salt
1 tablesp.(15g) dark soft brown sugar
1 tablesp. (15ml) brown malt vinegar
2-4 fl.ozs. (56-130ml) cream

Spring Onion
Chopped parsley

Hard-boil the eggs for the dressing: bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, gently slide in the eggs, boil for 10 minutes (12 if they are very fresh), strain off the hot water and cover with cold water. Peel when cold.

Next make the Dressing. Cut 2 eggs in half, sieve the yolks into a bowl, add the sugar, a pinch of salt and the mustard. Blend in the vinegar and cream. Chop the egg whites and add some to the sauce. Keep the rest to scatter over the salad. Cover the dressing until needed.


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