ArchiveJuly 2006

Barbecues are very much a ‘Man Thing’

Barbecues are very much a ‘man thing’, according to Antony Worrall-Thompson, its something to do with the time we spent sitting in caves ripping chunks of meat from roasted carcasses, the hunter-gatherer in us enjoying the spoils of the day, then as now, women didn’t get much of a look-in – men still love playing with fire and the nation is in the grip of barbecue fever.

In just a few short years, virtually every house in the country has a barbie of some kind, yet much of the fare on offer is pretty uninspiring, usually involving sausages, chips, chicken fillets, burgers or steaks.

Mind you, if the meat is of good provenance and well hung, a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil, some freshly ground pepper and sea salt will be adequate and one doesn’t necessarily need a fancy barbie either.

There’s so much choice nowadays from disposable trays available in petrol stations to sturdy hibachi with adjustable racks or cute little barbecues in girlie colours. The top of the range gas grill doubles as an outdoor kitchen and can be used from January to December.

I’ve cooked on them all but I’m a big fan of the kettle grill with domed lid – this gives you many more options and some can double up as a smoker.

Before you go shopping, you’ve got to consider your lifestyle and what you want from your barbecue, does it need to be portable or can it be a fixture?. Do you want to cook for large parties or just a few family and friends? Are you a purist or a pragmatist – will it be charcoal or gas? I like to have both options, depending on the occasion. 

One of the more important elements of a barbecue is the facility to control the height of the food over the source of heat. This is vital, particularly when you want to cook a large joint of meat evenly. With gas, its just a click of the switch and then you are in business.

Charcoal is a whole lot trickier. Its vital to light the barbecue well in advance. A good trick is to line the base of the barbecue with tin foil to reflect the heat upwards.

Don’t use firelighters and certainly don’t resort to petrol – screwed up paper, kindling and long matches are fine. Pile the charcoal into a pyramid and once lit leave it alone.

Meanwhile, prepare the food. Lay it out in manageable size portions on trays. Make lots of sauces, relishes and salads – many people make the mistake of overdoing the meat. Trim excess fat off the meat or it will catch fire and create lots of flame. There are masses of easy and delicious marinades that can be made in minutes but a very good bottle of extra virgin olive oil, Maldon or Halen Mon sea salt,and freshly cracked pepper are the essentials.

Add fresh herbs, particularly the gutsy ones like rosemary, thyme and sage, or freshly cracked spices to ring the changes.

Yoghurt tenderizes but drain well before cooking, otherwise it will stick and burn, as will items doused in sweet barbecue sauce.

When the coals are ready they should have burned down to a grey ash with glowing red coals underneath. Spread them out a bit at one side to create a cooler area if it is needed.

Use long-handled tongs and have a mister close by to douse flames if necessary. 

Best of all, enjoy the thrill of the grill, practice makes perfect.

There are lots of books to give you new ideas but Antony Worrall Thompson has just added his creative talent and published Barbecues and Grilling with Jane Suthering – published by Kyle Cathie. Buy this Book at Amazon

Here are some recipes from the book to try for your next barbie.

Blue Cheese Dip

142ml (4½ fl.oz approx.) carton soured cream
150ml (5fl.oz) mayonnaise
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sliced spring onions
1 garlic clove, finely diced
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
75g (3oz) crumbled blue cheese (Stilton, Roquefort, blue Auvergne)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a food processor, blend together the soured cream, mayonnaise, vinegar, spring onions, garlic, Tabasco and the cheese. Season to taste.

Oriental Pork and Pineapple Kebabs

This is one instance where sweet and savoury combine beautifully. The slightly sharp pineapple juice helps to cut through the richness of the oyster and soy sauces.
Makes 4

500g (18oz) pork fillet (tenderloin), cut into 24 chunks
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped red chilli
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 shallot, finely chopped
24 chunks of fresh pineapple, cut the same size as the pork.

Combine the pork and the remaining ingredients, with the exception of the pineapple. Cover with clingfilm and allow to marinate for 3-4 hours in the fridge. Remove at least 30 minutes before cooking.

Meanwhile, soak 8 small bamboo skewers in cold water for 30 minutes. Thread alternate chunks of pineapple and pork onto the skewers.

Set the kebabs on the barbecue grill over medium-hot colas and chargrill for 10-12 minutes, turning them from time to time until the pork is cooked through. Brush the pork with any remaining marinade while it is cooking. Serve immediately.

AWT’s All-American Burger

No barbecue book, or for that matter, barbecue, is complete without a classic beef burger. Cooking the onion first will give the burger a much better flavour and prevent the burger from going black.
Makes 6

15g unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Ikg (2¼ lb) finely minced lean beef
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon chilli sauce
6 soft white burger buns, split and lightly chargrilled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small frying pan, melt the butter and gently fry the onion, garlic, oregano and cumin until the onion is translucent and softened. Allow to cool then transfer to a large bowl and mix with the minced beef, olive oil, parsley and chilli sauce. Work with your hands to create a blended mixture, but do not overwork it.

Form the mixture into 6 ‘burgers’, and chargrill them on the barbecue – for medium rare, 4-5 minutes each side, 6-8 minutes each side for well-done.
Fill the buns with the burgers and garnishes of your choice.

To garnish, choose from torn lettuce leaves, thinly sliced onion rings, thinly sliced tomato, sliced pickled gherkins, tomato ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise.

Oriental Chicken Thighs

For a traditional presentation, serve these with noodles combined with some wilted spinach leaves and flavoured with chopped garlic, fresh ginger and light soy sauce.
Serves 4

12 skinless and boneless chicken thighs

For the marinade:
5 tablespoons dark soy sauce
3 tablespoons mirin or dry sherry
3 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
3 tablespoons unrefined soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 

In a shallow dish combine the soy, mirin or dry sherry, chilli sauce, sugar, ginger and garlic. Add the chicken thighs and turn them to coat with the marinade, then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 and up to 24 hours, turning from time to time. Remove from the fridge about 1 hour before cooking.

Cook the chicken thighs on the barbecue grill over hot coals for 8-10 minutes on each side, basting with the marinade several times during the cooking. Serve immediately.
For a grilled teriyaki tuna variation, take 4 tuna steaks, each about 2.5cm thick, marinate as above and cook on the oiled barbecue grill over hot coals for 2 minutes each side. Serve at once.

Indian Spicy Chicken

Yogurt tenderises the chicken and beating the meat ensures that it won’t take too long to cook. If there’s any leftovers, the chicken makes a great sandwich filling with salad.
Serves 6

6 skinless and boneless chicken breasts

For the marinade:
4 garlic cloves, crushed with a little salt
300ml (10fl.oz) Greek-style yogurt
1 tablespoon grated onion
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely diced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon garam masala spice mix
½ teaspoon English mustard powder

Mix together all the marinade ingredients.

Lay a chicken breast between two sheets of clingfilm, then beat it with a meat mallet or rolling pin until its widened to about twice the size. Repeat with the remaining pieces of chicken. Cover the chicken with the yogurt mixture and marinate, covered, in the fridge for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.

Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking. Wipe the excess yogurt from the chicken and oil the barbecue grill. Cook the chicken over hot coals for 4-5 minutes each side, until lightly charred.

Bananas with Toffee Sauce

A simple way of barbecuing bananas is to cook them in their skins until they blacken and feel very soft. When you cut back the skin you will discover a natural banana soufflé – delicious.
Serves 4-8

8 bananas in their skins

For the Toffee Sauce:
100g (3½ oz) unsalted butter
100g (3½ oz) unrefined soft brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
100ml (3½ fl.oz) dark rum
142ml (4½ fl.oz) carton double cream

To make the toffee sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan with the sugar, cinnamon and rum. Simmer, stirring from time to time, until the sauce begins to thicken. Add the cream and whisk until the sauce emulsifies. Do not boil.

Place the bananas, unpeeled, on the barbecue over medium heat and cook until the skins have blackened all over and are just beginning to split.
Allow your guests to peel their own bananas and watch for their excited reactions. Serve the sauce separately.

Foolproof Food

Barbecued New Potatoes

Serves 4
750g (1½lb) new potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
3 tablesp. olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

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

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

Hot Tips

Deasy’s Harbour Bar and Seafood Restaurant, Ring Road, Ring, Clonakilty, Co Cork – delicious seafood – well worth a detour – Tel 023-35741 for reservations.

Glebe Brethan Farmhouse Cheese wins Gold at World Cheese Awards
This gruyere-type cheese is made from unpasteurised Montbeliarde cows milk by David Tiernan in Dunleer, Co. Louth. Made in 45 kilo wheels, the cheese is matured on spruce timbers for a minimum of 4-6 months. It is mellow, fruity and creamy when young, becoming more aromatic with spicy, nutty flavours. Great to see some new cheese coming on stream in Ireland. For more details contact 

Celtic Market in Patrick St. Cork on Sunday 10th September 
As part of the folk festival this September, a Celtic Market with up to 30 food stalls will be held in Cork, there will be a number of events including a Ceili Mor, Live Music and Street Theatre. Enquiries from Rose-Anne Kidney, Festival Market Manager, Cork Folk Festival, Festival House, Grand Parade, Cork. Tel 086-8283310

June and July are Sublime Months

For those of us who love food, June and July are sublime months when the fruit garden is bursting with produce begging to be enjoyed. How fortunate we are in Ireland to have the right climate to grow such an abundance of culinary treats. We’ve been enjoying green gooseberries and elderflower followed by strawberries for the past few weeks. This week we had the first raspberries and loganberries from Walsh’s farm across the road from the Cookery School. How fortunate we are, and everyone in Shanagarry village is, to have a wonderful farm so close that grows such a variety of produce. Juicy red rhubarb early in the year and very soon the tayberries and boysenberries will be ripe also – they are sublime just with a sprinkling of castor sugar and some pouring cream but also make a divine jam. I love to combine them with peaches – a marriage made in heaven, particularly if served with a good homemade vanilla ice cream.

I bought two little Jersey cows last year so we could have access to unpasteurised organic milk. We have been enjoying the thick pouring cream with Summer berries, in panna cotta and crème brulee. Homemade ice cream made with rich jersey cream reminds me of the flavour of ice cream we made when my father-in-law Ivan Allen had a Jersey herd at Ballymaloe. We serve it as a treat with fresh Summer berries.

This evening I’m going to serve Peach Melba, named for Dame Nellie Melba, a famous opera singer – how retro is that?! The combination of sugared peaches, fresh raspberry sauce and homemade ice cream is irresistible – the perfect ending to a Summer dinner party.

Peach Melba

This much abused recipe is one of the most delicious desserts of Summer when made with best quality home-made ice cream, sugared peaches or nectarines and a fresh raspberry sauce. Quite unlike the travesty which often is served as Peach Melba, consisting of 'well known brand' of ice cream and canned peaches smothered in a sauce made from thinned out jam and perhaps a bit of chocolate flake on top for extra excitement!
Home-made Vanilla Ice cream

Raspberry Coulis 

Sugared Peaches

Serve each guest some vanilla ice cream and sugared peaches with a little fresh raspberry sauce poured over the top.

Sugared Peaches or Nectarines

Serves 8
8 perfect ripe peaches
Castor sugar
Juice of 1-2 lemons

Put the peaches or nectarines into a deep bowl, cover them with boiling water, pour off the water and drop into iced water, peel immediately, slice into 5mm (1/4inch) slices removing the stone. Put into a bowl and sprinkle with castor sugar and lemon juice to toss.

Ballymaloe Vanilla Ice-cream

The Ballymaloe Ice-creams are very rich and very delicious, made on an egg mousse base with softly-whipped cream and flavourings added. Ice-creams made in this way have a smooth texture and do not need further whisking during the freezing period. They should not be served frozen hard. Remove from the freezer at least 10 minutes before serving.
Serves 6-8

50g (2oz) sugar
100ml (4fl oz) water
2 egg yolks, preferably free-range and organic
2 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
600ml (1pint) softly whipped cream

Put the egg yolks into a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy (keep the whites for meringues). Combine the sugar and water in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir over heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, then remove the spoon and boil the syrup until it reaches the 'thread' stage, 106-113C/236F. It will look thick and syrupy; when a metal spoon is dipped in, the last drops of syrup will form thin threads. Pour this boiling syrup in a steady stream onto the egg yolks, whisking all the time. Add vanilla essence and continue to whisk until it becomes a thick creamy white mousse. Fold the softly-whipped cream into the mousse, pour into a bowl, cover and freeze.

Raspberry Coulis

8 ozs (225 g) Raspberries
3-6 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons water
Lemon juice - optional

Make a syrup with sugar and water, cool and add to the raspberries. Liquidise and sieve, taste, sharpen with lemon juice if necessary. Store in a fridge.

Raspberry Jellies with Fresh Mint Cream

Makes 9-10
225g (8ozs) sugar
225ml (8 fl ozs) water

4 sprigs fresh mint
1 dessertspoon Framboise
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 rounded teaspoon gelatine 
3 tablespoons water
450g (1 lb) fresh raspberries

Mint Cream
15 mint leaves approximate 
1 tablespoon lemon juice
150ml (5 fl ozs) cream
Mint leaves and Rapberries for garnish

9-10 round or oval moulds - 3fl.oz. capacity (2½x1¼ins/6.6x 3cm)

Make a syrup by bringing sugar, water and mint leaves slowly to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes, allow to cool, add Framboise and lemon juice.
Meanwhile brush the inside of the moulds with non scented oil, I use light peanut or sunflower oil

Sponge the gelatine in the water, then place the bowl in a pan of simmering water until the gelatine is completely dissolved. 
Remove the mint leaves from the syrup, then pour the syrup onto the gelatine. Add the raspberries and stir gently. Fill immediately into the lined moulds. Smooth them over the top so they won’t be wobbly when you unmould them onto a plate. Put them into the fridge and leave to set for 3-4 hours.

Meanwhile make the Mint cream.
Crush the mint leaves in a pestle and mortar with the lemon juice, add the cream and stir, the lemon juice will thicken the cream. If the cream becomes too thick, add a little water.

To serve

Spread a little Mint cream on a chilled a white plate, unmould a raspberry jelly and place in the centre. Place five mint leaves on the mint cream around the jelly. Decorate with a few perfect raspberries, repeat with the other jellies. Serve chilled.

Strawberries in Balsamic Vinegar

Marcella Hazan first introduced me to this unlikely sounding combination, it takes a certain amount of courage to try it but believe me it makes strawberries taste exquisitely intense. Aceto Balsamico the aristocrat of Italian vinegars varies enormously, it is precious and expensive, buy the best one you can find and use it sparingly.
Serves 6

2 lbs (900g) strawberries
3-5 tablesp. castor sugar
1-2 tablesp. Balsamic vinegar (aceto balsamico)

Shortly before serving, remove the hulls from the berries and cut in half lengthways. Sprinkle with sugar and toss gently. Just before serving add the balsamic vinegar and toss again. Serve immediately.

N.B. this recipe is not successful with wine or malt vinegars.

Summer Pudding

We actually make our Summer Pudding with cake but many people line the bowl with slices of white bread instead. I've used a mixture of fruit here, but it is also delicious made with black currants alone. Summer fruit salad with sweet geranium leaves also makes a successful filling, but you need to cook the black currants and red currants until they burst and then add the soft fruit. Remember to pour the fruit and syrup boiling into the sponge-lined bowl, otherwise the syrup won't soak through the sponge properly.
Serves 12 - 16

2 x 7 inch sponge cakes (see Foolproof Food recipe)

½ lb (225g) black currants
½ lb (225g) red currants
1 lb (450g) raspberries or ½ lb (225g) raspberries and ½ lb (225g) strawberries
21 ozs (580g) granulated sugar
24 fl ozs (680ml) water

3 pint (1.7 L) Plastic pudding bowl 

First make the sponge (see recipe). 

Cut each round of sponge in half, horizontally. Line the bowl with the cake, crusty side inwards. It doesn't matter if it looks quite patched, it will blend later.

Dissolve the sugar in the water and boil for 2 minutes, add the black currants and red currants and cook until the fruit bursts -about 3 or 4 minutes - then add the raspberries (and strawberries). Taste. Immediately, ladle some of the hot liquid and fruit into the sponge-lined bowl. When about half full, if you have scraps of cake put them in the centre. Then fill to the top with fruit. Cover with a layer of sponge. Put a plate on top and press down with a heavy weight. Allow to get cold. Store in the refrigerator for a minimum of 24 hours before serving, but it will keep for 4 or 5 days.

To Serve: Unmould onto a deep serving dish and pour any left-over fruit and syrup over the top and around the side. Serve with lots of softly whipped cream.

Almond Meringue with Loganberries

Serves 6
1½ ozs (45g) almonds
2 egg whites 
4½ ozs (125g) icing sugar

½ pint (300ml) whipped cream
½ lb (225g) loganberries

Check that the bowl is dry, spotlessly clean and free of grease. Blanch and skin the almonds. Grind or chop them up. They should not be ground to a fine powder but should be left slightly coarse and gritty. Mark two 7½ inch (19cm) circles on silicone paper or a prepared baking sheet. Mix all the sugar with the egg whites at once and beat until the mixture forms stiff dry peaks. Fold in the almonds. Divide the mixture between the 2 circles and spread evenly with a palette knife. Bake immediately in a cool oven, 150C/300F/regulo 2 for 45 minutes or until set crisp and just brown on top. Allow to cool.

To Assemble

Sandwich the meringues together whipped cream and loganberries. Chill for some hours before serving. Decorate with rosettes of whipped cream.
Garnish with little sprigs of mint or lemon balm.

Summer Fruit Salad in Lemongrass Syrup

Serves 8-10
4 oz (110 g) Raspberries 
4 oz (110g ) Loganberries
4 oz (110g ) Red currants
4 oz (110g ) Black currants
4 oz (110g) small Strawberries
4 oz (110g) Blueberries 
4 oz (110g) Fraises du bois or wild strawberries 
4oz (110g) Blackberries


14 oz (400g) sugar
16 fl oz (450ml) water

2 stalks of fresh lemongrass chopped or grated rind of two unwaxed lemons. Put all the freshly picked berries into a white china or glass bowl. Put the sugar, water and lemongrass into a stainless steel saucepan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Boil for just 2 minutes. Cool for 4-5 minutes then pour the hot syrup over the fruit and allow to macerate for several hours. Remove the lemongrass. Serve chilled, with softly-whipped cream or Vanilla Ice-cream or alone.

Foolproof Food

Great Grandmother’s Cake

Use this delicious tender sponge unfilled for the Summer Pudding , or sandwich together with whipped cream and homemade raspberry jam or fresh raspberries as a delicious treat for tea.
6 ozs (175g) flour
6 ozs (175g) castor sugar
3 eggs
4½ ozs (125g) butter
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder


4 ozs (110gg) home-made raspberry jam
10 fl ozs (300ml) whipped cream
castor sugar to sprinkle

2 x 7 inch (18cm) sponge cake tins

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

Grease and flour the tins and line the base of each with a round of greaseproof paper. Cream the butter and gradually add the castor sugar, beat until soft and light and quite pale in colour. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well between each addition. (If the butter and sugar are not creamed properly and if you add the eggs too fast, the mixture will curdle, resulting in a cake with a heavier texture). Sieve the flour and baking powder and stir in gradually. Mix all together lightly and add 1 tablespoon of milk to moisten.

Divide the mixture evenly between the 2 tins, hollowing it slightly in the centre. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked. Turn out onto a wire tray and allow to cool.

Sandwich together with homemade Raspberry Jam and whipped cream. Sprinkle with sieved castor sugar. Serve on an old fashioned plate with a doyley.

Hot tips :

Seasonal goodies:

British Queens are now in season. The best I’ve had this year have come from Mary and Patrick Walsh. For a selection of summer berries contact -

Mary & Patrick Walsh, Shanagarry, Co Cork. Tel. 021-4646836
Sunnyside Fruit Farm, Rathcormac, Co Cork. Tel. 025-36253
Nick Westendorf – Tel. 021-4771477

Visiting Galway this summer - perhaps for the Arts Festival or Race Week - see the revamped Eyre Square - enjoy the buzz of this cosmopolitan city.
Stroll down Quay Street and enjoy a delicious meal at Martine McDonagh’s award winning Quay Street Wine Bar and Restaurant (No 21)– Tel 091-565662, 

Have a cocktail in the wonderfully glamorous g Hotel, designed by milliner Philip Treacy – stunning décor and friendly staff, overlooking Lough Atalia –  - midweek ESPA spa breaks also available. Tel. 091-865200

Beetroot is delicious

I recently gave a friend a present of a basket of freshly picked vegetables – some new potatoes, the first of the new season’s courgettes, complete with blossoms, some radishes and a couple of bunches of baby beetroot. She was thrilled, but it was the beetroot that really blew her away, so much so that she telephoned a few days later to tell me what a revelation the flavour of the baby beetroot had been. Hitherto, vinegary pickled beetroot was her only introduction to this hugely underrated vegetable. When the vegetable hamper arrived she used all the other vegetables first and then reluctantly decided to cook the beetroot. She decided to have a browse through ‘Easy Entertaining’ – as usual I was waxing lyrical about how delicious young beetroot are, both hot and cold, so she decided to have a go. 

Wash and gently rub off any clay, careful not to damage either the root or stalk, otherwise they will bleed and lose their colour. Trim the stalks 1-2 inches above the bulb for the same reason.

Young beetroot not much bigger than a golf ball will cook in boiling salted water in 15- 20 minutes, when the skin rubs off easily when pressed with a finger, they are usually cooked. Just to be on the safe side, prick one in the centre with the tip of a knife or a skewer – there should be no resistance. Oven-roasting is another easy-peasy way to cook beetroot, this concentrates its delicious sweet flavour. Just wrap each clean beetroot in a little tin foil parcel and bake at 200C for 20-50 minutes, depending on the size and age you may need a little sea salt.

Hot beetroot marries deliciously with white fish, particularly haddock, grey sea mullet and hake. I also adore hot beetroot with duck or goose, Spring lamb or chicken.

We also enjoy it cold or at room temperature. Beetroot is delicious with goat cheese and rocket leaves. The combination of beetroot and horseradish with smoked mackerel with freshly cracked pepper is another goodie. 

Home pickled beetroot is also a revelation if you are only used to the mouth puckering beetroot in the jar. It keeps for ages in the fridge and will last for up to 12 months if sealed in a kilner jar. Borscht and chilled beetroot soup make delicious summer starters.

If you are fortunate enough to have a glut of beetroot, apart from stocking up with pickles, one could try my favourite recipe for a beetroot and ginger relish – great with coarse pates, cold meats, goat cheese. 

If you have space in your garden, there’s still time to plant some, to harvest in September. Bolthardy is a good reliable variety but do look out for an Italian variety called Chioggia which has pink and white rings looks superb and tastes divine. Alternatively, seek out fresh new seasons beetroot at your nearest farmers market. 

Beetroot Soup with Chive Cream

Serves 8-10
900g (2 lb) young beetroot
25g (1oz) butter
225g (½lb) onions
salt and freshly ground pepper
1.2L (2 pints) home-made chicken or vegetable stock approx.
125ml (4fl oz) creamy milk

Chive Cream 
125ml (4 fl oz) sour cream or crème fraiche
Finely chopped chives 

Wash the beetroot carefully under a cold tap. Don't scrub, simply rub off the clay with your fingers. You won't want to damage the skin or cut off the top or tails because it will 'bleed' in the cooking. Put the beetroot into cold water, and simmer covered for anything from 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on the size and age. 

Meanwhile chop the onions, sweat carefully and gently in the butter until they are cooked. The beetroot are cooked when the skins will rub off easily. 

Chop the beetroot and add to the onions. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. * Put into a liquidiser with the hot chicken stock. Liquidise until quite smooth. Reheat, add some creamy milk, taste and adjust the seasoning, it may be necessary to add a little more stock or creamy milk. 

Serve garnished with little swirls of sour cream and a sprinkling of finely chopped chives.
Watchpoint: careful not to damage the beetroot during preparation or they will bleed

Golden Beetroot Soup
Use the golden Chioggia beetroot or Burpees Golden beetroot in the recipe above.

Chilled Beetroot Soup
Proceed as in the master recipe above to *. Liquidise with just enough stock to cover. The mixture should be smooth and silky. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Fold in some cream and yoghurt.
Serve well chilled in small bowls with little swirls of yoghurt and finely chopped chives.

Salad of Smoked Mackerel with Beetroot, Watercress and Horseradish Sauce

Serves 8
4-6 fillets of smoked mackerel
Pickled Beetroot – see recipe
A selection of watercress and baby salad leaves
Horseradish sauce 
Sprigs of dill

Cut the smoked mackerel into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces and the pickled beetroot into 1cm (1/2 inch) dice.

To serve
Strew the base of a white plate with a mixture of watercress and baby salad leaves. Put 5 or 6 pieces of mackerel on top. Scatter with some diced beetroot and top with a few little blobs of Horseradish Sauce. A few sprigs of dill add to the deliciousness. 

Pickled Beetroot

Serves 5-6
1 lb (450 g) cooked beetroot
8 oz (225g) sugar
16 fl oz (475 ml) water
8 fl oz (250 ml) white wine vinegar

Dissolve the sugar in water and bring to the boil. simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add the vinegar, pour over the peeled sliced beets and leave to cool.

Horseradish Sauce

Horseradish is widely available in greengrocers nowadays but it also grows wild in many parts of Ireland and looks like giant dock leaves. If you can’t find it near you, plant some in your garden. It is very prolific and the root which you grate can be dug up at any time of the year.
Serve with roast beef, smoked venison or smoked mackerel.
Serves 8 - 10

1 1/2 -3 tablespoons horseradish, grated
2 teaspoons wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
250 ml (8 fl oz) softly whipped cream

Scrub the horseradish root well, peel and grate on a ‘slivery grater’. Put the grated horseradish into a bowl with the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Fold in the softly whipped cream but do not overmix or the sauce will curdle. It keeps for 2-3 days: cover so that it doesn’t pick up flavours in the fridge.

This is a fairly mild horseradish sauce. If you want to really clear the sinuses, increase the amount of horseradish!
Serve with Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread..

Gratin of Haddock with Imokilly Cheddar and Mustard with Piquant Beetroot

This is one of the simplest and most delicious fish dishes we know. If haddock is unavailable, cod, hake or grey sea mullet are also great. We use Imokilly mature Cheddar from our local creamery at Mogeely.
Serves 6 as a main course

175g (6 x 6oz) pieces of haddock
Salt and freshly ground pepper
225g (8ozs) Irish mature Cheddar cheese, grated
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoon cream

Ovenproof dish 8½ x 10 inches (21.5 x 25.5cm)

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/regulo 4. Season the fish with salt and freshly ground pepper. Arrange the fillets in a single layer in an ovenproof dish (it should be posh enough to bring to the table.) Mix the grated cheese with the mustard and cream and spread carefully over the fish. It can be prepared ahead and refrigerated at this point. Cook in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the fish is cooked and the top is golden and bubbly. Flash under the grill if necessary. Serve with hot Piquant Beetroot. 

Beetroot and Ginger Relish

This sweet sour relish is particularly good with cold meats and coarse country terrines, or used simply as a dip.
Serves 8 – 20 depending on how it’s served

450g (1 lb) raw beetroot, peeled and grated
225g (8oz) onion, chopped
45g (1½ oz) butter
3 tablespoons sugar
salt and freshly ground pepper
25ml (1fl oz) sherry vinegar
120ml (4fl oz) red wine
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

Sweat the onions slowly in butter, they should be very soft, add sugar and seasoning. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook gently for 30 minutes. Serve cold. This relish keeps for ages.

Roast Stuffed Duck with Beetroot

1 free range duck – 4 lbs (1.8kg) approx. allow 1 lb (450g) duck per serving

Sage and Onion Stuffing
12 ozs (45g) butter
3 ozs (85g) chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped sage
3½ oz (100g) soft white breadcrumbs
salt and freshly ground pepper

neck and giblets
bouquet garni
1 onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced

Bramley Apple Sauce

1 lb (450g) cooking apples
1-2 dessertspoons water
approx. 2 ozs (55g) sugar (depending on tartness of apples)

685g (1½ lb) Piquant Beetroot – Foolproof Food

To make the stock, put the neck, gizzard, heart and feet into a saucepan with a sliced carrot and onion. Add a bouquet garni of parsley stalks, small stalk of celery and a sprig of thyme. Cover with cold water and add 2 or 3 peppercorns but no salt.

Bring slowly to the boil, skim and simmer for 2-3 hours. This will make a delicious broth which will be the basis of the gravy. Meanwhile, singe the duck and make the stuffing.

To make the stuffing: Sweat the chopped onion on a gentle heat for 5-10 minutes until soft but not coloured. Remove from the heat add the breadcrumbs and freshly chopped sage. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Unless you are cooking the duck immediately allow to get cold.

When the stuffing is quite cold, season the cavity of the duck and stuff. Roast in a moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4 for 13 hours. approx. When the duck is cooked remove to a serving dish, allow to rest while you make the gravy. Degrease the cooking juices (keep the duck fat for roast or fried potatoes). Add stock to the juices in the roasting pan, bring to the boil, taste and season if necessary. Strain gravy into a sauceboat and serve with the duck.

Bramley Apple Sauce: Peel, quarter and core the apple, cut pieces into 2 and put in a stainless steel or cast iron saucepan, with sugar and water, cover and put over a low heat, as soon as the apple has broken down, stir and taste for sweetness. 

Serve warm with the duck, beetroot and gravy.

Foolproof Food

Piquant Beetroot

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.
Piquant Beetroot 

1½ lbs/675 g beetroot cooked (above)
½ oz/15 g butter 
Salt and freshly ground pepper 
A few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)
A sprinkling of sugar
5-6 fl ozs/140-175ml cream 

Peel the beetroot, use rubber gloves for this operation if you are vain!. Chop the beetroot flesh into cubes. Melt the butter in a saute pan, add the beetroot toss, add the freshly squeezed lemon juice and cream, allow to bubble for a few minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and sugar. Taste and add a little more lemon juice if necessary. Serve immediately. 

Hot Tips 

Breda Maher of Cooleeney Cheese from Moyne, near Thurles, Co Tipperary
Is now making a delicious goat’s milk brie type cheese called Gort na Mona – look out for it. Made from pasteurized milk this is a soft white mould ripened cheese with a creamy texture and distinctive flavour.
For details of Irish farmhouse cheesemakers  

Oulart Village Market, Co Wexford
Up and running every Saturday from 3-5pm – good range of fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh meats, home cured bacon, home baking and some local craft work.  

Carrigaline Smoked Cheese
Lovers of Carrigaline Cheese will be glad to hear that they are now doing a Smoked Carrigaline cheese – its delicious so watch out for it.  

Cork Harbour Alliance for A Safe Environment
Mary O'Leary Chairperson of CHASE was presented with the Lord Mayor’s Award at the Commodore Hotel in Cobh on Monday 19th June in recognition of the group’s significant contribution to preserving Cork Harbour in its campaign to oppose the building of two incinerators at Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour. As part of its work the group has campaigned to highlight the problems that such a plant will have on the communities in the Harbour area. 

Children of any age still love a ‘roast dinner’

At 8 o’clock in the morning and again at 10.00am there’s a queue at virtually every filling station in Ireland, not for petrol, but for the infamous ‘breakfast roll’ Pat Shortt’s song did little to discourage the devotees, if anything it gave it cult status and changed it into a sought-after macho meal.
Even casual observers can’t help noticing that our national girth is expanding at an unprecedented rate. Most alarming is the incredible number of overweight children and teenagers – is it more girls than boys , or is that just my perception because of the visible rolls of puppy fat over the low cut jeans? There is unquestionably a nutritional crisis. Many parents are in despair, its not easy, even for those who are deeply committed to feeding their children healthy food, to persuade their offspring to resist the barrage of advertising and the strategically placed sweets, sugary temptations and fizzy drinks. Many of these foods, including crisps and crispy snacks are virtually addictive, so despite the constant emphasis on sylph-like appearance, we appear unable to resist the lure of sugar and monosodium glutamate.

The schools who have taken a firm line on ‘sweets and sodas’ have helped parents immeasurably and are to be congratulated. Shops and supermarkets need to follow suit.

So what can we do to entice our children to eat healthy food.

The vital first step- Start by making a firm resolution to clean the cupboards and fridge of all processed food -. The reality is that if there is no junk in the house the children can’t eat it. 
If family meals have become disjointed make a huge effort to re-establish the tradition of sitting down around the kitchen table with family. More and more, meals are being eaten on the run or standing up by the fridge. So much so that an increasing number of children no longer know how to use a knife or fork properly.
Try to visit a farmers’ market every week, include the children in this convivial shopping experience. Encourage them to try the tastes that are offered. There is an urgent need for some evening farmers markets, particularly in suburbs of cities and towns, many busy people simply cannot get to a farmers market during their working week. 
Start to grow some food – it is a well-proven fact that if children are involved in planting seeds, they are much more likely to be adventurous and try a whole range of vegetables, both raw and cooked. 
Join an organic box scheme and have a box of home-grown vegetables delivered every week. 
Talk occasionally about food and food issues, food miles, sustainability, importance of good animal welfare. Children are very idealistic and if you are passionate about these issues they will absorb the ethos. Don’t overdo it or you may put them off. 
Bake a simple bread like soda bread or spotted dog every day and show the kids how to do it, they get such a buzz. 
Involve the children in the menu planning, cooking and meal preparation. 
Ask yourself am I cooking or just reheating? Remember food is the ‘petrol’ we put in the tank to keep the ‘car’ going. If we shovel any kind of old rubbish into ourselves and our children we are definitely looking for trouble.

Children of any age still love a ‘roast dinner’ particularly roast chicken with all the trimmings – stuffing, gravy, roast potatoes, carrots. 

Ballymaloe Strawberry Muesli

This is a huge favourite with all our family and friends – its such a good recipe to know about because its made in minutes and so good. We vary the fruit through the seasons – strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, blueberries and grated apples.
Serves 8

6 heaped tablespoons rolled oatmeal (Quaker Oats)
8 tablespoons water
110g (8oz) fresh strawberries
2 teaspoons honey

Soak the oatmeal in the water for 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, mash the strawberries roughly with a fork and mix with the oatmeal. Sweeten to taste with honey, a couple of teaspoons are usually enough but it depends on how sweet the strawberries are.
Serve with pouring cream and soft brown sugar.

Fruit Kebabs
Fruit kebabs are delicious for breakfast or for a snack at any time of the day. Just thread cubes of fresh fruit onto satay sticks, eg cubes of melon, apple, pear, kiwi fruit, thick slices of banana, maybe a cherry – divine and bursting with flavour.

Wraps were inspired by the Mexican burrito – originally invented as a convenient way for cowboys and farmers to carry a packed lunch! They are the perfect easy casual food for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Have fun with the fillings!

To make a wrap:
Heat a wide frying pan on a medium heat, lay a tortilla on the pan, warm on one side for about 15-30 seconds then turn over to warm the other side. This makes it soft and pliable. Lay the warm tortilla on a chopping board and arrange the filling in an approximately 5 x 12.5cm (2 x 5 inch) rectangle on the bottom half of the tortilla. Fold in the right and left edges, then fold the bottom edges over the filling and gently but firmly roll the tortilla over until the filling is completely enclosed.

Open Wraps:
Proceed as above but only fold in one side initially, continue to roll until the filling is wrapped.
Wraps can be made ahead covered in plastic wrap or tin foil and refrigerated. Depending on the filling they can be reheated.

Suggested fillings:
1. Pieces of cooked chicken breast, iceberg lettuce, grated cabbage and carrot, and mayonnaise.
2. Crispy bacon, tomatoes, grated cheddar cheese and lettuce.
Let the children choose their favourite fillings and combinations and roll them up themselves, here are some ideas for more ‘grown up’ fillings.
3. Crunchy lettuce, goat cheese, roast red peppers, pesto and crispy bacon or prosciutto.
4. Crunchy lettuce, smoked salmon, cream cheese and dill, cucumber strips, freshly cracked pepper and a few crispy capers.
5. Crunchy lettuce and rocket leaves, rare roast beef, garlic mayonnaise and crispy French fried onions.
6. Crunchy lettuce, roast chicken, fresh herb stuffing, tarragon mayonnaise and sundried tomatoes.
7. Crunchy lettuce, spicy chicken, crème fraiche, cucumber pickle and coriander leaves.
8. Crunchy lettuce, strips of cheddar cheese, cucumber pickle, Ballymaloe Country Relish and spring onion.

Baked Potatoes

Baked potatoes are wonderfully versatile, cheap and cheerful
8 x 8 ozs (225g) old potatoes, e.g. Golden Wonders or Kerrs Pinks
Sea salt and butter

Scrub the skins of the potatoes very well. Prick each potato 3 or 4 times and bake in a preheated hot oven 2001C/4001F/regulo 6 for 1 hour approx. depending on the size. When cooked, serve immediately while skins are still crisp and make sure to eat the skins with lots of butter and sea salt, Simply Delicious!

Suggested Stuffing for Baked Potatoes 

1. Garlic mayonnaise with tuna fish
2. Fromage Blanc (Jockey) with smoked salmon and chives
3. Garlic butter with crispy rasher.
4. Tuna fish with sweetcorn.

Traditional Roast Stuffed Chicken

Serves 4-6
1 x 3½ - 5 lbs (1.5 - 2.3kg) free range chicken, preferably organic
Giblets (keep the liver for a chicken liver pate), and wish bone
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 stick celery
A few parsley stalks and a sprig of thyme

1¾ ozs (45g) butter
3 ozs (85g) chopped onion
3-3½ ozs (85-100g) soft white breadcrumbs
2 tablesp. 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 wish bone 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 wish bone, 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. Weigh 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 to rest while you make the gravy. To make the gravy, spoon off the surplus fat from the roasting pan. De glaze the pan juices with the fat free stock from the giblets and bones. Using a whisk, stir and scrape well to dissolve the caramelized 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 so that each person gets some brown and some white meat. Serve with gravy and bread sauce and roast potatoes.

Chicken Noodle Salad

Serves 6-8
450g (1lb) fettucini, Chinese, or udon noodles
170g (6oz) peanut butter
120ml (4 fl. oz) peanut oil
63ml (2½ fl.oz) rice wine vinegar
50ml (2 fl oz) dark soy* sauce
47ml (1½ fl. oz) sesame oil
2 cloves garlic crushed
pinch of cayenne pepper
30g (1 oz) toasted sesame seeds
3 - 4 tablespoons chopped scallions cut at an angle
Grated carrot
1 pan-grilled chicken breast, shredded

Bring a large saucepan of water (4.5L/8pints) to the boil, add salt, cook the udon noodles until al dente. Meanwhile make the dressing. Whisk the peanut butter and sesame oil together, add rice vinegar, soy sauce, crushed garlic, cayenne and sesame seeds, stir well. When the noodles are al dente, drain immediately and refresh in cold water, drain again, add scallions, grated carrot and chicken. Toss in just enough dressing to coat lightly. Taste and correct seasoning.

*Mushroom soy sauce is very good in this recipe.
The peanut dressing will keep for at least a week in the fridge.

Strawberry ice-cream

What better to follow the roast chicken than some delicious strawberry ice-cream, you could serve it in little cones if you like or with strawberry sauce.
2lb (900g) very ripe strawberries
Juice of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 oranges
8oz (225g) castor sugar
½ pint (300ml) water
5 fl.oz (150ml) whipped cream

Fresh Strawberry Sauce
14oz (400g) strawberries
2oz (55g) icing sugar
Lemon juice

Dissolve the sugar in the water, boil for 7-10 minutes. Leave to cool. Puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender, sieve. Add orange and lemon juice to the cold syrup. Stir into the puree, fold in the whipped cream to the puree. Freeze in a sorbetiere according to the manufacturers instructions.

Meanwhile make the strawberry sauce, clean and hull the strawberries, add to the blender with the icing sugar and blend. Strain, add lemon juice if necessary. Store in a fridge.
Serve in ice-cream cones or in a glass bowl with a few sugared strawberries and fresh strawberry sauce. 

Foolproof Food


Smoothies can be enjoyed for breakfast or a delicious, nutritious snack at any time – play around with whatever ingredients you have to hand.
Banana and Yoghurt Smoothie
Serves 1-2

225ml (8 fl 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 glasses and serve immediately.

Mango Smoothie
Substitute mango for banana in above recipe. You’ll need about 150g (5oz).

Mango and Banana Smoothie
Serves 2-3

350ml (12 fl oz) freshly squeezed orange juice
1 chopped mango
1 banana
225ml (8fl oz) natural yoghurt

Put all the ingredients in a liquidizer, whizz until smooth. Taste, add a little honey if necessary.

Raspberry and Nectarine Smoothie
Another delicious combination – slice 1 ripe nectarine and add 25-50g (1-2oz) fresh rapberries.

Blueberry Smoothie
Add 110g (4oz) blueberries or more.

Hot Tips 

RedBranch Health Newsletter
Brings health-related information to subscribers on a monthly basis, a not-for-profit organization they are dedicated to positively improving the modern lifestyle, they provide a free service in Irish schools. Find out more information from The RedBranch Team at 01-61713750 or 

Slow Food Cork Summer BBQ at Tom Barry's Pub, Barrack St. Cork City
Tuesday, 4th July at 6.30pm in the garden at Tom Barry’s
Freshly locally caught Mackerel barbecued served with gooseberry chutney, salads (supplied by local growers) and Arbutus bread, followed by local strawberries. There will also be a vegetarian option too using local farmhouse cheese.
€12 for members and €14 for non members

New Regulations on Beef labelling announced by Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan, TD to come into effect on 3rd July 2006

These regulations extend the existing beef labelling regulations to now require hotels, restaurants, pubs serving food, caterers and essentially all those involved in serving beef to consumers to provide them with information on the country of origin of their beef, so they can reassured about the origin and the quality as well as the safety of the products they are purchasing and consuming. 

Congratulations to Randolph Hodgson Proprietor of Neal’s Yard Dairy in London –
On being awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to the dairy industry – Randolph has always been extremely supportive and generous to the Irish Farmhouse Cheese Industry and is a member of the Bord Bia Taste Council.


Past Letters