Trish Deseine


Trish Deseine has taken France by storm.  In just six years she has scaled the heights of culinary endeavour in France with a series of lavishly illustrated books that have captured the imagination of food fans and critics alike.    She has been described as a “phénomène editorial” by French Elle and “the new queen of French cookery book publishing” by L’Express.
In France, the ultimate chauvinistic country, it is highly unusual for a woman to have such a dramatic effect on domestic cooking especially when not even French.  Trish is Irish – in other words, an outsider has taken on the most sophisticated, competitive and macho field, and won over a nation with a simple no-nonsense approach to everyone’s most basic need.
The appeal of Trish’s cooking is that it is like real life – she admits to shifting from triumph to disaster all the time.  She knows that not everyone owns a Magi-mix, few have the time or inclination to make stock from scratch, and fewer still have a garden bursting with herbs.  It’s these ‘limitations’ that Trish works around.  No one suffers from cooking crises of confidence while reading Trish Deseine.  But everyone swoons as she describes the joys of cooking with huge pats of butter and full cream.
Trish Deseine was born in Belfast in 1964 and went on to read French and Linguistics at Edinburgh University.  Trish moved to Paris in 1987 where she worked with the fashion retailer French Connection.  She married in 1990 and worked for the Northern Ireland Tourist Board as Southern European Marketing and Press Executive for eight years.
In 2000, she set up Au Comptoir des Chefs, a business to sell her favourite product – chocolate.  So successful was this venture, that publishers Marabout commissioned her to write a book, the result, Petits plats entre amis (2000) won the prestigious Ladurée and Seb prizes, sold over 100,000 copies and has since been translated into five languages.
Her second book Je veux du chocolat (2002) now translated into 7 languages, won a World Gourmand Award and sold over 300,000 copies.  Subsequent books including Fêtes Maison (2003) about ultra-modern party food themed by colour; J’en veux encore (2004) on food for children; and Du caramel plein la bouche (2005) a celebration of all things caramel, have all been best sellers.   Her small format books – Trifles, Best of Chocolate – and Bonbons Forever have become hip that they sell alongside clothes by Nicholas Ghesquière and Alexander McQueen in Paris’ most fashionable boutique – Colette.
Her latest book has instructive chapters such as ‘Shops Wisely’, ‘Knows her Classics’, ‘Steals from chefs’ and ‘Rises to the Occasion’, this book will both charm and inform.  Trish teaches us how we can take a feuille out of the archetypal French woman’s livre  from the classic dinner party recipes to the latest trends as well as how to tackle difficult ingredients such as truffles and lobster.   An affectionate but unsentimental, irreverent but non-patronising cookbook – a fresh new talent who deserves to be better known in her home country , now that I’ve found one of her books I’m desperate to find the others.
Coincidentally Trish called in to the school recently and I’ve managed to persuade her to come and teach a course here in September.   Here are some recipes I’ve enjoyed.

Lamb Spare Ribs with Méchoui flavours – Travers d’agneau façon méchoui


Le méchoui, or kharouf machwi in Arabic, is a traditional North African way of slowly roasting a small animal (goat, sheep or lamb), flavoured with spices and basted constantly, over a wood fire on an open spit.   It is a popular way of feeding the multitudes at large French summer gatherings.  This is my quick-fix version.

For 4-5

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

3 garlic cloves, peeled

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Pinch of saffron strands, optional

Harissa Paste, to taste


I kg of lamb ribs

Grind together all the ingredients except for the lamb ribs, using a pestle and mortar or in a mini food-processor.  Smear the paste all over the lamb and leave it to absorb the flavours for an hour or so.

Heat the grill of your oven to hot or set up your barbecue, and cook the meat for 20-30 minutes, turning it regularly.

Serve with fresh salad vegetables or taboulé

Baby Leek and Reblochon pie – Tarte au poireaux et reblochon


This also works well with baby red onions or spring onions

For 4

About 20 baby leeks

4 squares of ready-rolled puff pastry – about 15 x 15 cm each

1 ‘ ripe’ reblochon cheese (or you could use camembert, or saint nectaire or anything creamy or pungent

4 tablespoons crème fraîche

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

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

Blanch the leeks in boiling water for about 5 minutes.  Drain and cool.

With the tip of a sharp knife, but without cutting through the pastry completely, score a square about 2cm in from the edge of the pastry for each piece.  This will make the sides puff up more when cooking.

Slice the cheese finely and set the slices in the centre of each pastry square.  Spread the crème fraîche over the cheese and then set the leeks on the cream, lining them up evenly – cut off their tops if they are untidily reaching over the edge of the pastry.  Season with salt and pepper and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the pastry is golden and the cheese bubbling into the cream.

Serve with a crisp salad.

Pigs cheeks braised in cider – Joues de porc braises au cidre


For 6-8



2 tablesp olive oil, plus extra for frying

50g butter

1 kg pig’s cheeks

4-5 shallots

750ml dry cider

200g button mushrooms

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

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

Heat the oil and butter in a heavy-based casserole with a lid.  Brown the meat with the shallots for a few minutes, then pour over the cider and scrap the bottom of the pan to deglaze, bring to the boil and cover.  Transfer to the oven and cook for 1 hour 30 minutes.

Some 20 minutes before serving, fry up the mushrooms in a little olive oil and add them to the casserole.

Serve with fresh ribbon pasta.



Nougat and honey ice cream – Nougat glace au mile


For 6


50g whole blanched almonds

30g whole hazelnuts or walnuts

30g pine nuts

50g candied fruit, such as cherries, orange and lemon peel, and angelica, plus extra for decoration

3 egg whites

2 tablespoons runny honey, preferably a flavoured one such as lavender, rosemary or thyme

300ml very chilled whipping cream or whippable double cream

For the coulis:

300g fresh or frozen raspberries

75g sugar

Roughly chop the nuts and the candied fruits.  Try to vary the size of the pieces, and leave some whole.

Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.

Heat the honey in a saucepan until it caramelises slightly.  Pour it hot onto the egg whites then whisk for a further 2 minutes.

Whip the cream until it is stiff, add the nuts and fruit and fold the mixture gently into the beaten egg whites.

Pour the whole lot into a small loaf tin or a silicone mould and freeze for at least 12 hours.

Cook the raspberries with the sugar to a jam-like consistency.  Cool completely before serving with the nougat.

Exotic Fruit Crumble – Crumble aux fruits exotiques


For  8-10



1 pineapple

40g butter, cold and cut into cubes

3 bananas

2 mangoes (frozen and peeled)

1 vanilla pod, split lengthways

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons rum

For the crumble:

125g plain flour

125g cold butter

125g brown sugar

80g dessicated coconut


Peel the pineapple, take out the hard middle part and cut it into chunks.   In a saucepan, melt the butter and cook the pineapple for about 10 minutes.   Add the bananas and mangoes, cut into thick slices.  Add the vanilla seeds,the sugar and a little water if the fruit looks a bit dry.  Generally the moisture from the mangoes is enough.

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

Put the flour, butter, brown sugar and coconut in the bowl of your food-processor.  Mix until the crumble forms.  It should look like coarse breadcrumbs.  Keep an eye on it in case it becomes lumpy.  Put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.  Mix the rum into the fruits.

Butter a gratin dish and sprinkle some sugar into it.  Put the cooked fruit in and cover with the crumble.   Cook for about 30 minutes until the crumble is golden.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Foolproof Food

Chocolate Pizza – Pizza au Chocolat

For 6



1 ready-made round pizza base

Dark chocolate spread, or Nutella

Dried and sugared fruit (candied orange peel, dates, candied pineapple…..)

Fresh fruit (clementines, pineapple, apple……)

Pine nuts, toasted

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

Unroll the pizza base onto a baking tray and cook it for about 5 minutes until it starts to crisp up.

Remove from the oven and spread with chocolate.   Dot the candied and fresh fruit over the pizza.   Sprinkle with pine nuts and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes until the chocolate and fruit are hot.   Serve the pizza straight from the oven.

Hot Tips

Trish Deseine will be Guest Chef at Ballymaloe Cookery School for a 1 day Course on Monday 15th September – Tel 021-4646785



As part of Fairtrade Fortnight and to highlight Midleton’s move to become a Fairtrade town, two cocoa bean farmers from Ghana will visit Midleton today – the growers are members of a cooperative whose cocoa beans end up in the Divine chocolate range. The Fairtrade producers will be at the entrance to Hurley’s Super Valu from 10.30-12.00 today Sat 8th March.   Sample some of the best chocolate with a clear conscience and enjoy the festival atmosphere with attractions for children and ‘real’ bananas walking through the Farmer’s Market. 


 Patrick’s Day Dinner at La Fromagerie in London

Thursday 13th March 2008 at 7.30pm Moxon St.

We thought we would start the celebrations a few days early in preparation for the St Patrick’s Days parade The evening begins at 7.30pm with aperitifs including Black Velvets, followed by a dinner of fine Irish fare including Irish smoked salmon with Potato Pancake & Ryefield fresh goats cheese, followed by Irish Spring Lamb Stew with Colcannon. For dessert we will be making Irish whiskey soaked Portercake Icecream. Finishing with a tutored tasting of Irish cheeses with Patricia. If you still have space after all that, maybe an Irish coffee to finish? Tickets to this four course supper incl. wines £70.00 pp.
Please telephone the shop to make a reservation: 0207 9350341 or download a booking form

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


Past Letters