ArchiveApril 2008

Dedication to Elizabeth O’Connell – Darina Allen’s mother

 I have lived through a whole lifetime of emotions in the last seven days -joy, helplessness, gratitude, guilt, relief, loneliness, deep sadness, not necessarily in that order.  

During those seven days my eight siblings and I sat by our mother’s bedside, taking turns to watch  over her and hold her hand, as she gradually slipped in and out of consciousness and finally passed away gently in her sleep as dawn broke on April the 17th.

Mummy was in her early eighties and had been a widow for 45 years.   She was a woman of strong faith and was so looking forward to being with Daddy once again. She consoled us all by whispering that she was not frightened of death.   As she lapsed into a coma we longed for her to open her eyes just one more time, until my sister reminded us of how disappointed she was likely to be if she woke up to find us all peering anxiously at her, rather than meeting Daddy with his arms open wide.    During the long week with my brothers and sisters, there were several other comic moments, and even some laughter interspersed with sadness and grief as we reminisced and swapped memories.  

With hindsight those seven long days and nights were some of the most precious of my entire life.  How fortunate were my brothers and sisters and I to be able to spend that time uninterrupted, with the extraordinary woman of courage and fortitude who brought us into the world, and whose wonderful cooking brought joy and solace to family and friends for over eighty years. 

Our home was always full of the delicious smells of cooking. Among many things, Mummy taught each and every one of us how to bake and roast, braise and stew and the joy of sharing food and sitting around the kitchen table with family and friends.  

Mum loved to cook and was determined to feed us all lots of nourishing, wholesome food.  For many years she had a thriving kitchen garden ….she kept hens, fattened chickens for the table, we even had a house cow, an ill-tempered black Kerry who produced wonderful milk which we drank by the glassful.   The cream that rose to the top was poured over tarts and pies and the sour milk used for soda bread.  Mum had a wonderfully ‘light hand’ and baked brown soda bread virtually every day until recently.  Even after she had a stroke about five years ago, she would still make bread with her ‘good hand’.  One of my earliest childhood memories is of watching Mum baking bread, she tied on my little apron (which she had made for me), I’m sure I was much more of a hindrance than a help, but she always would give me a little piece of dough to make a little ‘cistín’ which I proudly baked beside her traditional loaf in the old Esse cooker.   When my brothers and sisters and I ran up the hill from the village school, particularly on Winter days, we’d be trying to guess what Mum might have for lunch (we called it dinner then!)   Would it be Scalloped potato with bits of kidney, a bubbly Beef or Lamb Stew, Bacon and Cabbage with Parsley Sauce, Stuffed Pork Steak with lots of Apple Sauce, or if it was Friday, a big bowl of Colcannon or Smoked Haddock.  If the CIE bus from Dublin to Cork had dropped off ‘fresh fish’ at Nancy Freeman’s shop in the village, it might even be our favourite – a fillet of plaice.   Roasts were a Sunday treat.   No matter how modest the meal there was always ‘sweet’, stewed fruit from the garden, rhubarb, gooseberries, blackcurrants, apples …. With Birds Custard or cream,  but would she have made a bubbly rice pudding with a golden skin on top, or a pie or most thrilling of all, a steamed sultana or jam pudding?.   I only hope that we hugged her enough or at least stopped to stay thank you for the many long hours she spent making and baking and sewing and growing for us.She and my eldest brother William brought me down to Ballymaloe in June 1967, to start my first real job.   She loved Ballymaloe and was so happy that I had found another mentor in Myrtle Allen, whose philosophy she so admired.I was 14 and at boarding school in Wicklow when my father Dick O’Connell passed away.  My youngest sister Elizabeth was posthumous, born a month after my father died.    One can but imagine what it must have been like to have been on one’s own with nine children at the age of 36.    Mum who adored my father, was heartbroken, but eventually picked up the pieces and began to learn about the business, put all of us through school and university and when we had flown the nest, started to cook in our own family pub The Sportsman’s Inn in Cullohill, Co Laois.   So many people looked forward to stopping off on the Cork to Dublin road, for her chicken pies, scones and crab apple jelly, apple or rhubarb tart with soft brown sugar and cream.   On her 70th birthday she decided to ‘hang up her apron’ in the pub to do some things she hadn’t had time to do in her busy life.   She took woodwork classes, joined a literature group and started to paint in oils and watercolours under the tutelage of Jock Nichols.  She also got to play more golf and at 74 years of age won the Captain’s Prize in Abbeyleix, she also won Irish Independent golfer of the month in the Druid’s Glen, earning her the title of Tiger Lily in the Irish Independent.

Mum loved to picnic, there was always a picnic basket in the boot of the car, we picnicked for breakfast, lunch and tea, at home and abroad, and on one famous occasion we had Christmas dinner on top of Cullohill mountain.  She loved that mountain and greatly enjoyed hill walking.  At 70 years of age she climbed to Cnoc an Aifrinn, the highest peak of the Comeragh mountains, with the rest of us puffing and panting behind her.

Her spirit lives on in every picnic we share and every skill she taught us, and in the smell of Cullohill Apple Tart and Mummy’s Sweet Scones. Elizabeth O’Connell, nee Tynan, born  October 18th 1925 – died April 17th 2008.  


Communions and Confirmations

The Holy Communion and Confirmation season will soon be in full swing. A very special family day where three and sometimes four generations join together to celebrate the occasion. Grannies, grandpa’s, aunties, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters and special friends all dressed to the nines and laden with presents congregate far and wide. After the ceremony is over, it’s an opportunity for the kids to play together, teenagers to hang out and for grown-ups to catch up on each other lives.

Restaurants are booked up weeks ahead and entertaining extended families can run into many hundreds or even thousands of euros very quickly. So it is worth considering inviting them back to your place. Entertaining a crowd at home is nothing like as scary as you might think provided you plan ahead and choose the menu carefully. Friends and other family members are often delighted to be asked to help with the cooking and organisation. Of course a beautiful scalloped marquee in the garden is wonderful but if you need to spill out into the garden a couple of those cotton pergolas from a local discount store can be an inexpensive option. Creative kids and their pals can embellish the basic structure with ribbons and bows, tissue paper and tin foil and have lots of fun in the process.

Friends love to be involved and many will be happy to bring a dish if asked – this may take a bit of choreography. So suggest a starter, main course or pudding. Have a big bowl of salad leaves with a good dressing and a big plate of Irish farmhouse cheese with some crusty bread. If you have a really good deli or a Farmers Market close by, you will be able to get a selection of artisan cured meats, pâtes and salmon, as well as olives and smoked fish. It’s so easy to do an appealing array with Frank Hederman’s smoked mackerel, eel, salmon, haddock and mussles, a bowl of pickled cucumber, a bowl of homemade mayonnaise and a bowl of horseradish sauce. Guests could just help themselves. How delicious would that be? If you don’t feel like cooking at all, order a few delicious apricot frangipane tarts from Richard Graham Lee (023 55344) or if you are in the Bandon area pick them up at the Urru Culinary Store (022 53192) over-looking the river.

The first of the New Season’s fresh strawberries are now being harvested, how gorgeous and easy would it be to pile them up in bowls and serve them with caster sugar and thick Glenilen cream.

Don’t forget to make big jugs of homemade lemonade for the children and adults. A little Prosecco (sparkling Italian wine) for the adults will add even more bubble to the party. But if like me, you love to cook then here’s a simply delicious menu which can be made ahead.

Top Tips
Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co Waterford with beautiful view over the bay has recently reopened after extensive renovations. It’s managed by Adrian Bartells, The young Dutch chef Martin Kajuiter is passionate about fresh, local produce and is serving some of the most delicious food I’ve tasted for as many a long day. The word is already out so book soon. Telephone: (024) 87800
Celebrate your Local Artisan Food Producers with dinner at Nautilus Restaurant, Ballycotton – Wednesday May 7th, seating at 7pm dinner 7.30pm – local cheese, free range chicken and mackerel will be featured on the menu – Members €45, non-members €55 – booking essential. Telephone: (021)-4646768 or 087-6135897

Molecular Gastronomy – the latest developments between the kitchen and the laboratory 2-5pm Wednesday 7th May 2008
At Dublin Institute of Technology, Cathal Brugha St. in conjunction with the Institute of Food Science and Technology of Ireland (IFSTI)
Molecular gastronomy is a scientific discipline involving the study of physical and chemical processes that occur in cooking – for anyone interested in the science of food, chefs and caterers looking to spice up their menus. Manufacturers and retailers looking for ideas for product development and anyone who likes to experiment at home.

Details from IFSTI – Telephone: (01) 8171338

Rillettes of Fresh and Smoked Salmon with lots of serving suggestions

This is a terrific standby recipe that can be tarted up in all sorts of ways or simply slathered on hot thin toast or crusty bread.
The texture of this pate should be coarse and slightly stringy – it should resemble that of pork rillettes, where the meat is torn into shreds with forks rather than blended. Don’t be spooked if the amount of butter you use – you’re not going to eat it all yourself! Serve as a canapé piped on thick slices of cucumber or for a posh starter you can line little moulds with a slice of smoked salmon and serve with cucumber pickle.

Serves 12-16

340g (3/4 lb) freshly-cooked salmon

340g (3/4 lb) smoked wild or organic Irish salmon

340g (3/4 lb) softened butter

salt and freshly ground pepper

a good grating of nutmeg

lemon juice to taste

For the Smoked Salmon

30g (1oz) butter

28ml (1/2 fl oz) water

clarified butter (optional)
Melt 30g (1 oz) butter in a small saucepan; add the smoked salmon and 1 tablespoon of water. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes or until it no longer looks opaque. Allow it to get quite cold.
Cream the butter in a bowl. With two forks, shred the fresh and smoked salmon and mix well together. Add to the soft butter still using a fork (do not use a food processor). Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and lots of freshly gratede nutmeg. Taste and add lemon juice as necessary, and some freshly chopped fennel if you have it.
Serve in individual pots or in a pottery terrine. Cover with a layer of clarified butter or cling film. Serve with hot toast or hot crusty white bread. Salmon rillettes keeps perfectly in the refrigerator for 5 or 6 days or can be frozen for 3 – 4 weeks provided it is well sealed.

Gratin of Chicken with Broccoli, Cauliflower or Zucchini

Serves 8-12

This is one of those dishes that can be mouth-watering or a complete disaster. Its success depends on the broccoli being carefully cooked so that it is bright green and just tender.

1 x 1.5kg (3 1/2 lb) chicken*, free range if possible

4 carrots, sliced

4 onions, sliced

sprig each of thyme and tarragon

a few peppercorns

600ml (1 pint) homemade chicken stock

900g (2 lbs) broccoli florets

250g (8ozs) mushrooms, sliced

scrap of butter

350ml (12fl ozs) milk

350ml (12 fl ozs) cream

4 teaspoons tarragon or annual marjoram

60g (2ozs) Buttered crumbs (mix 1ozs of melted butter with 2ozs bread crumbs)

50-100g (2 – 4ozs) grated mature Cheddar cheese

2 x lasagne dish (25.5 x 20.5cm) 10 x 8 inch

Put the chicken into a saucepan or casserole with the onions and carrots add a sprig of thyme, tarragon and a few peppercorns. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 1- 1 1/4 hours or until the chicken is tender.

Meanwhile cook the broccoli florets in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and refresh under cold water, keep aside. Sauté the mushrooms in the butter on a hot pan season with salt and freshly ground pepper and keep aside also.

When the chicken is cooked remove the meat from the carcass, carve into bite-sized pieces.

Strain and degrease the cooking liquid, add the cream and milk, bring to the boil, add the tarragon or annual marjoram, simmer for a few minutes, thicken to a light coating consistency with roux, then add the chicken to the sauce. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Butter an ovenproof lasagne dish, put a layer of broccoli on the base, scatter the mushrooms on top and cover with the creamy chicken mixture.

Mix the Buttered Crumbs with the grated cheese and sprinkle over the surface. Reheat in a moderate oven 180C/350F/gas mark 4 for 15-20 minutes and flash under the grill until the top is crunchy and golden. Serve immediately.

Gratin of Chicken with Courgettes/Zucchini

Substitute 900g (2 lbs) buttered courgettes cooked al dente for broccoli.

Gratin of Chicken with Cauliflower

Substitute cauliflower florets for broccoli in the above recipe.


This Mediterranean vegetable stew can be made in large quantities. It keeps in a fridge for several days. It freezes brilliantly and reheats perfectly.

Serves 8-10

1 onion, sliced

2 red peppers

2 green peppers

1 x 400g (14ozs) tin chopped tomatoes or 6 large tomatoes (dark red and very ripe)

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar

a clove of garlic, crushed

a few leaves of fresh basil

Heat the olive oil in a casserole, add the garlic and cook for a few seconds, then add the sliced onion, toss in the oil and allow to soften over a gentle heat in a covered casserole while the peppers are being prepared. Halve the peppers, remove the seeds carefully, cut into quarters and then into strips across rather that lengthways, alternatively cut the pepper flesh into 3/4 – 1″ squares. Add to the onion and toss in the oil; replace the lid and continue to cook.

Meanwhile, add the tin of tomatoes to the casserole. (If using whole tomatoes, peel them by putting them into a bowl and scald them in boiling water for 10 seconds, pour off the water and peel immediately, slice and add to the casserole). Season with salt, freshly ground pepper, sugar and a few leaves of fresh basil if available. Cook until the vegetables are just soft, 30 minutes approx.


Serves 8 approx.

Songs have been sung and poems have been written about Colcannon. It’s one of Ireland’s most famous traditional potato dishes. It’s comfort food at its very best and can be made with cabbage or kale. Terrific for a party.

Did you ever eat colcannon

When ’twas made with yellow cream

And the kale and praties blended

Like a picture in a dream?

Did you ever scoop a hole on top

To hold the melting lake

Of the clover-flavoured butter

Which your mother used to make?

450g (1lb) kale or Savoy or spring cabbage

1.35kg (3lb) ‘old’ potatoes, e.g. Golden Wonders or Kerrs Pinks

250ml (8fl oz) boiling milk approx.

30g (1oz) scallion or spring onion, optional

salt and freshly ground pepper

55g (2oz) butter approx.

Scrub the potatoes, put them in a saucepan of cold water, add a good pinch of salt and bring to the boil. When the potatoes are about half cooked, 15 minutes approx. for ‘old’ potatoes, strain off two-thirds of the water, replace the lid on the saucepan, put onto a gentle heat and allow the potatoes to steam until they are cooked.

Remove the dark outer leaves from the cabbage. Wash the rest and cut into quarters, remove the core and cut finely across the grain. Cook in a little boiling salted water or bacon cooking water until soft. Drain, season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a little butter. If using kale, remove the central rib. Cook the kale in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender. This may take 8-10 minutes, depending on the type and maturity of the kale. Curly kale is sweetest after it has been mellowed by a few night frosts.

When the potatoes are just cooked, put the milk, and the finely chopped scallions into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Pull the peel off the potatoes and discard, mash quickly while they are still warm and beat in enough boiling milk to make a fluffy puree. (If you have a large quantity, put the potatoes in the bowl of a food mixer and beat with the spade.) Then stir in the cooked cabbage and taste for seasoning. For perfection, serve immediately in a hot dish with a lump of butter melting in the centre.

Colcannon may be prepared ahead up to this point and reheated later in a moderate oven 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4, for 20-25 minutes approx. Cover while reheating so it doesn’t get too crusty on top.

Honey and Mustard Dressing

Use to dress a large bowl of salad leaves.

6 fl ozs (150ml) olive oil or a mixture of olive and other oils, eg. sunflower and arachide

2 fl ozs (50ml/ cup) wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 teasp. honey

2 heaped teasp. wholegrain honey mustard

2 cloves garlic

Mix all the ingredients together and whisk well before use.

Lemon Meringue Roulade


Serves 8-10

4 egg whites

8 ozs (225g) castor sugar

1/2 pint (300ml) whipped cream

Lemon Curd

4 ozs (110g) castor sugar

2 ozs (55g) butter

grated rind and juice of 2 good lemons

2 eggs and 1 egg yolk (keep whites aside for meringue)


sprigs of Mint, Lemon Balm or Sweet Cicely

Swiss roll tin 12 x 8 inch (30.5 x 20.5cm)

Preheat the oven to 180C\350F\regulo 4. Put the egg whites into a spotlessly clean bowl of a food mixer. Break up with the whisk and then add all the castor sugar in one go. Whisk at full speed until it holds a stiff peak 4 – 5 minutes approx. Meanwhile line a swiss roll tin with tin foil, brush lightly with a non-scented oil (eg. sunflower or arachide). Spread the meringue gently over the tin with a palette knife, it ought to be quite thick and bouncy. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. Put a sheet of tin foil on the work top and turn the roulade onto it, remove the base tin foil and allow the meringue to cool.

Meanwhile make the lemon curd.

On a very low heat melt the butter, add castor sugar, lemon juice and rind and then stir in well-beaten eggs. Stir carefully over a gentle heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Draw off the heat and pour into a bowl (it will thicken as it cools).

To Assemble

Spread the whipped cream and lemon curd over the meringue roll up from the narrow end and carefully ease onto a serving plate. Pipe 6 rosettes along the top of the roulade, decorate with mint leaves or lemon balm or sweet cicily leaves. Serve cut into slices about 1 inch (2.5cm) thick accompanied by a little more lemon curd if desired.


Homemade Lemonades

We always keep some chilled ‘stock syrup’ in the fridge so its simplicity itself to make a variety of lemonades. They contain no preservatives so they should be served within a few hours of being made. Many different types of citrus fruit and flavoured syrups may be used.

To make the Syrup:

1 lb (450g) sugar

1 pint (600ml) water

Dissolve the sugar in water and boil together for 2 minutes. Store in a covered jar in the refrigerator until needed.

Oranges and Lemonade

Makes 2.7l (4 1/2 pints)

4 lemons

2 orange

500ml (16fl oz) approx. stock syrup

1.5l (2 1/2 pint) approx. water


Sprigs of fresh mint or lemon balm

Juice the fruit and mix with the stock syrup, add water to taste. Add ice, garnish with sprigs of fresh mint or lemon balm and serve.


Makes 1.2l (2 pints)

5 limes

700ml (1 1/4 pint) water

300ml (1/2 pint) stock syrup


Sprigs of fresh mint or lemon balm

Make and serve as above. Taste and add more water if necessary.

An Bohreen B&B

Ann Mulligan has wanted to run a B&B in Ireland as long as she can remember.   As a child in Wenatchee in Washington State, she was surrounded by family who loved to cook.   Ann’s grandmother’s cooking was legendary and her dad was a chef for many years.  He too encouraged her to cook with stories of the kitchens where he worked.  Mum was an especially good baker who welcomed an extra pair of hands in the kitchen.

By the age of eight Ann could make a mean scrambled egg, when her baby brothers gobbled it up appreciatively she was hooked.   Cooking became a creative outlet.  Soon she was making jams,  preserving fruit and vegetables and cooking dinner for the family.

Ann’s husband Jim is originally from Dublin but lived in the US.  He and Ann came on holidays to Ireland every year since 1975 and fell in love with Dungarvan and the surrounding area.  They decided they wanted to live here and searched for a site on which to build.

During one of the holidays in Ireland she had chanced upon the Ballymaloe Cookery School and eventually enrolled in January 2000.  After three busy months she was ready to open her B&B near Dungarvan,  in Co Waterford.

Ann and Jim have just four rooms but their guests return over and over again for the warm welcome and for Ann’s delicious food, so last winter she put pen to paper and wrote the Irish B&B Cookbook, a charming collection of the favourite recipes that have delighted guests at An Bohreen.  Lots of breakfast and dinner ideas which let others into the secret of why this little guesthouse is so successful.

They have received the AA 4 diamonds award and the AA Super Supper, their accommodation is listed in Bridgestone’s 100 best places to stay in Ireland.

Ann uses local ingredients with a dash of ingenuity such as fish from Helvic Head, Irish Farmhouse Cheese and Murphy’s stout – to give her visitors a genuine taste of Ireland.     She believes that cooking seasonal food is essential for flavour – no amount of spicing or splashing with sauces can replace fresh taste.

Here are some of Ann’s tempting breakfast dishes.

The Irish B&B Cookbook by Ann Mulligan, published by Mercier Press.


An Bohreen Nut Granola


Makes about 1350g /50oz


Preheat the oven to 180C (350F)


300ml /12 fl oz honey

200ml/8 fl oz sunflower oil

455g/16oz oat flakes

200g/7oz barley flakes

200g/7oz wheat flakes

115g/4oz rye flakes

140g/5oz raisins

140g/5oz toasted and chopped hazelnuts

225g/8oz toasted sunflower seeds

225g/8oz toasted pumpkin seeds

55g/2oz chopped dried apricots

115g/4oz chopped dates

115g/4oz  of either pecans or walnuts (or some of each) toasted

225g/8oz  combination dried cranberries, dried blueberries, dried cherries




Combine the honey and oil in a small saucepan – warm just enough to melt the honey.  Whisk the honey and oil together. 

Combine the flakes in a large bowl.  Pour the honey-oil onto the flakes and stir well to mix.

Spread the flakes onto 2 or 3 baking sheets.  Bake in an oven at 180C (350F) for 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently.    Toast the grains but do not roast the grains.   Cool, stirring frequently to evenly mix the grains.   When cool add the fruit and nuts.   Store in an airtight container.



Brown Bread


Makes 1 loaf


Preheat oven to 200C (400F)


285g /10oz coarse wholemeal flour

170g/6oz strong white flour

2 heaped tbsps oat bran

1 tsp salt

½ tsp bread soda, sieve into flour

2 tsps soft brown sugar

375ml/15fl.oz buttermilk

1 egg

2 tbsps sunflower oil



Oil a 9x5x3-inch bread tin.   Place all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.  Whisk together the buttermilk, sunflower oil, and egg.  Pour the mixture into the well and mix thoroughly.   The mixture should be wet and sloppy.  Pour it immediately into a prepared bread tin.   Cut a deep slit down the centre of the batter – this lets the evil fairies out.

Bake for approximately 60 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Cool on the wire rack.   If a softer crust is desired wrap the bread in a clean kitchen towel when removed from the oven, then cool on a wire rack.


Whiskey Seville Orange Marmalade


Makes 2-3 litres/64-96 fluid oz



900g/32oz Seville Oranges

1600ml/64 fl.oz water

1 lemon

1800g/64oz granulated sugar

50ml/2 fl.oz Irish whiskey


Wash the oranges and lemon to remove any wax.   Cut in half and squeeze out the juice.  Remove the pulp with a dessertspoon.  Combine the pulp and pips in a muslin cloth and tie into a ball.   Place the ball in a large bowl and cover with water.  Let stand while cutting rinds.

Cut each rind in half, then place on a cutting board and slice thinly.   Put into a bowl with the pulp ball, add the remainder of the water and soak overnight.

Pour the contents of the bowl into a large pan and bring to a boil.   Simmer for 2 hours or until the peel is soft when squeezed gently between your fingers.

Squeeze the liquid from the muslin ball into a pot.    While cooking, warm the sugar and jars in the oven.   Add the warmed sugar to the pot and stir well to dissolve.

Bring the mixture to a boil, and cook until the marmalade is set.  Add whiskey if desired.

Test the jam by dropping a bit of jam onto a chilled saucer, popping it into a freezer for a minute, removing it and pushing the jam with your finger.   If it is set, the jam will wrinkle when it is pushed.  If not, cook it gently for a few minutes and then re-test.



Strawberry Rhubarb Jam


Makes 2-3 litres/64-96 fl.ozs


900g/32oz strawberries

900g/32oz rhubarb

1350g/48oz granulated sugar


Cut the rhubarb into ½ inch pieces.   Place these pieces in a large bowl, cover with 455g/16oz of sugar and let stand for 2 hours.

Crush the berries and place them in a large pot.   Add 455g/16oz of sugar and stir to combine.   Add the rhubarb mixture, then cook over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.

Bring the mixture to a rapid boil and cook until it is thick.  Test the jam by dropping a bit of jam onto a chilled saucer, popping it into the freezer for a minute, removing it and pushing the jam with your finger.  If it is set, the jam will wrinkle when it is pushed.   If not, cook it gently for a few more minutes and then re-test.

Pour the jam into clean hot jars.  Wipe the top of each jar with  a clean wet cloth to remove any splatters.  If you are using lids, place them in a saucepan with boiling water, boil for one minute and then place onto the jars.   Tighten the lids and leave to rest.  The jars should make a popping sound as they seal.


Store in a dark, cool place.



Foolproof Food

Irish Rarebit



Serves 3-4


455g/16oz aged Irish cheddar cheese

1 tbsp butter

200ml/8 fl oz Murphy’s stout, or a pale stout of your choice

½ tsp dry mustard powder

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Pinch of cayenne

2 vine ripened tomatoes

Brown bread, sliced and toasted



Grate the cheese.

Over a low heat melt the butter in the top of a bain-marie or double boiler.   Add the cheese, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon.   As the cheese begins to melt, slowly add the stout.   Again, stir constantly to obtain a creamy texture.  Add the dry mustard, Worcestershire, and cayenne.   Remove from the heat and keep warm.

Toast the bread, place some tomato slices onto it and spoon the cheese sauce over the top.  Garnish with finely minced chives or parsley.


If bain-marie or double boiler is not available place a glass bowl over pan of boiling water and proceed.   Do not allow bottom of bowl to touch hot water; or mixture will cook, not melt.


Sausage Breakfast Bread Pudding

Serves 8


Preheat oven to 180C (350F)


455g/16oz bulk sausage meat

6 eggs

400ml/16 fluid oz milk

1 tsp dry mustard

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced fine

1 tsp rubbed sage

6 slices white bread, crust removed and cut into 1 inch pieces

4-6 mushrooms, diced

170g/6oz grated cheddar cheese



Cook the sausage meat in a frying pan, and use a wooden spoon to break the sausage into smallish pieces.   Drain the pieces on a paper towel and set aside.

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl.  Add the milk, mustard and sage.  Whisk to combine.

Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish.   Cover the bottom with bread cubes.  Sprinkle the sausage meat over the bread, then the apple, mushrooms and finally the grated cheddar cheese.   Pour the egg mixture over the contents of the baking dish.  Cover the mixture with cling film and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the mixture from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature.  Bake uncovered at 180C/350F for 40-50 minutes or until the centre tests done, when a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Garnish with a grilled tomato.


Cheese Blintzes with Apple Sauce


Serves 4




Batter for blintz:


140g/5oz flour

Pinch of salt

75-100ml/3-4 fl oz milk

40g/1½ oz butter, melted

3 eggs


Cheese filling:


455g/16oz cottage cheese

1 egg, beaten

¼ tsp cinnamon

55g/2oz caster sugar

Pinch of salt

½ tsp lemon zest, finely grated

½ tsp pure vanilla extract


Apple Sauce:


455g/16oz cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped

55g/2oz sugar, or to taste

¼ tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp water



Place all the ingredients for the cheese filling into a food processor or blender and process until smooth.   Keep in a refrigerator until needed.

Place the apples, sugar, cinnamon and water into a saucepan.  Cover with a lid and cook on low temperature until the apples cook into sauce consistency.   Check to prevent sticking.   Chill until needed.

Place the flour and salt into a food processor.   Combine the egg, milk, and butter in a mixing jug, then pour into a processor with the motor running and process until the mixture is smooth.

Heat a crepe pan over medium heat, and then brush with a few drops of oil.  Pour 55g/2oz of the batter into the pan (or enough to cover the bottom).  Tilt the pan to evenly distribute the batter.  When the blintz looks solid and pulls away from the edges of the pan (blintz will not be totally cooked, just solid enough to handle), turn it out onto parchment.   Place 1 tbsp of the cheese filling into the centre and fold over the opposite sides, repeat with the other two sides.  The blintz should look like a rectangular envelope.   Set them aside, cover with damp tea towel, repeat cooking process – the batter mixture should yield 8 blintzes.

To complete cooking – heat 150ml/6 fluid oz of oil in a deep-sided pan, oil should cover blintzes and fry them until they are golden brown.  Drain the blintzes on kitchen paper and serve with apple sauce on the side.




Hot Tips


Cork Free Choice Consumer Group next meeting on Thursday 14th April at 7.30pm at Crawford Gallery Café, Emmet Place – Fresh Indian Spices and other Indian Foods with Arun Kapil of ‘Green Saffron’ – Learn how to use them in authentic, traditional family recipes.    €6 admission including tea & coffee.


Corned Mutton –

If you’re tiring of the usual meats, how about some corned mutton for a change.  The tradition is alive and well in the English Market in Cork – go upstairs to the Farm Gate Café where Kay Harte serves the most delicious corned mutton – Kay poaches the mutton and serves with caper sauce.     Traditional butchers, Paul and Alan Murphy, a father and son duo in the Market, corn the mutton specially for her.  Congratulations to both Kay and the Murphys for reviving a Slow Food tradition.



Launch of Slow Food Bantry –

To celebrate the launch of Slow Food Bantry join An Afternoon Tea Party at Organico Café on Sunday 20 th April from 3-5pm – Guest speakers Myrtle Allen, Giana Ferguson and Martha Cashman.  Tickets €10 (concessions for children), available from Organico Café, O’Connor’s Seafood Restaurant, Westlodge Hotel and Val Manning’s Emporium.   For more information contact Organico Café, Glengarriff Road, Bantry, 027-55905,



Crossed Grain is the members magazine of Coeliac UK

The magazine is distributed 3 times a year and contains news and views about gluten-free living and includes regular features such as product news


On a recent trip to India we travelled right into the central province of Madhya Pradesh to try to catch a glimpse of the famous Bengali tiger before it disappears entirely.   It was quite a mission – A flight from Mumbai to Nagpur, followed by a two hour jeep drive to Baghvan, a cc Africa game lodge on the edge of Pench National Park.

On the day of our arrival all the Indian newspapers carried headlines berating the  government for exaggerating tiger numbers. The latest Wildlife Survey of India indicated that numbers are less than 50% of the last survey.  This didn’t augur well for our chances yet every morning we struggled out of bed before dawn full of anticipation. We were picked up by a game warden and driven in an open jeep through the jungle tracks for 3-4 hours, our eyes peeled, ears pricked to pick up alarm calls.  We saw lots of spotted deer, langur monkeys, black buck, sambar, jackal, a herd of gaur and even a jungle cat, but not a whiff of a tiger or leopard.    The nearest we came to it were several sightings of fresh pok marks. Nonetheless there were compensations, the food at the Baghvan Game lodge was delicious.  Virtually every hotel and household in India makes homemade curd.  At Baghvan they serve it for breakfast in glasses with fresh pomegranate seeds and syrup on top.  Slices of ripe papaya embellished with coriander sugar, fresh pineapple was served with a perky chilli syrup.

There’s also a crunchy muesli made with cashew nuts, honey and sesame seeds, jugs of fresh orange or sweet lime juice.  Lots of fresh fruit, the most delish muffins, and a lassi of the day.  There was always an Indian speciality of course .   The chef made parathas and masala, omelettes with chopped chilli, onion, tomato, coriander and cheese added to the eggs from the local village.    All the other ingredients came from the organic vegetable garden in the grounds of the lodge.    The gardener Sunil makes compost which grows fresh herbs and vegetables in tiny sunken beds which can be flooded to save every drop of precious water.  Growing here is a real challenge, not just water shortages but one can’t rule out attacks from elephants, marauding monkeys or a hungry nocturnal porpoise.

The stuffing for the parathas varied daily, one day it was crushed fresh peas with chilli, cumin and coriander, the next a spicy mashed potato mix, the third, grated cauliflower with coriander and ginger.

They are eaten fresh off the griddle with a lime pickle which is definitely an acquired taste, but this was the most delicious I’ve tasted in India.

When we arrived in from the game trail the chef would be cooking some tasty snack in the open kitchen to tempt us. One day it was spinach pakoras, on another occasion it was paneer grilled over a lump of charcoal.   There were also sweet sticky jalabas for us to nibble.

The staff spent all their time planning little treats.  Every evening, guests had a new surprise, dinner by the pool in the moonlight, a barbecue under a giant neem tree, a romantic rose petal strewn table on the veranda, always delicious food, soup, a rice pilaff, a paneer dish, meat, fish or prawn curry, mixed vegetables, salad and of course daal.

Then kulfi, or gheer with pistachio nuts or a little carrot halva, which takes four or five hours of dedicated effort to make.

It was like one big house party, it is rare to have such good food even in the best hotels.  I avoid hotel buffets like the plague and in fact much of the best food I’ve eaten in India has been in street stalls and dhabas and of course in multi-generational private houses where the cooking skills are still passed down from grandmother to grandchild in the time- honoured way – a tradition that is all but lost in this part of the world.

Rata who manages Baghvan was kind enough to hand write some of the recipes for me to share with you.

Baghvan Lodge is situated on the edge of Pench National Park in Central India, in the Seoni and Chhindwara districts of Madhya Pradesh.   Dominated by hills, forests and valleys, this national park derives its name from the Pench river, which meanders its way through the entire stretch of the 757 km² park.

Indian Paratha Bread


Makes 16


These roughly triangular breads get eaten all over India. Easy to make at home, all you need is a cast iron frying pan. In India ghee is used instead of oil.


175g (6oz) sieved wholemeal flour (weigh the flour after sieving, add the bran to the remainder in the bag)

185g (6 1/2oz) plain flour plus some extra for dusting

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or clarified butter

200ml (7fl oz) water

Oil for frying and brushing


Put the wholemeal, white flour and salt into a bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of oil over the top.  Rub the oil in with your fingertips. The mixture will resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Add the water and gradually mix them together to form a softish ball of dough. 

Knead on a clean work surface for about 10 minutes. Rub the ball with dough with a little oil put into a bowl, cover with cling film and allow to rest for 30 minutes. 

Heat a cast iron frying pan on a medium-low flame. Knead the dough again, shape into a roll and cut into 16 equal pieces. 




Potato Paratha


Basic paratha dough –as above


Potato filling:

450g (1lb) mashed potato

2 green chillies, chopped

4 tablesp. chopped coriander

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 teasp. cumin

1 teasp. grated ginger (optional)

Mix the mashed potato and other ingredients together to make a filling.


Make a batch of paratha dough as above. Roll out a ball of dough, dipping regularly in flour.  Roll it into a round about 5 inches (12.5cm) diameter.   Place 2 small tablespoons of potato filling on top.   Pinch the edges together. 

Heat a griddle or heavy iron pan.   Cook dry first on the hot griddle or pan, then rub a little butter on top, turn over and cook for a minute or two.   Spread a little butter on the other side.  Serve with pickles and raita.


Cauliflower Paratha


Paratha dough – as above


1 small cauliflower grated (raw)


Green chilli


Roasted cumin powder


Mix the ingredients for the filling together and proceed as in potato paratha.


Green Pea Paratha


Blanched green peas


Cumin seeds



Chopped green chilli


Make the filling and proceed as above.



Parathas may be reheated wrapped in tin foil in a moderate oven 180C/350F/gas mark 4, they take 5-10 minutes.



Khadi Paneer


Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main course


3 tablespoons peanut oil

4 tablespoons coarsely grated unpeeled ginger

2 sliced red onions (medium)

1 sliced green pepper (small)

3-4 ripe tomatoes

110g (4oz) peas, fresh or frozen

salt to taste

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

200g (7ozs) paneer (diced into 3/4 inch dice)

2 teaspoons Chana masala – available from Asian food shops


Put 3 tablespoons of peanut oil in a kadhi or wok over a medium heat.  Add the grated ginger, stir, add the sliced red onions, green pepper, tomatoes and peas.  Add salt to taste and a good 1/2 teaspoon turmeric.  Finally add the diced paneer.  Stir and allow to cook on a low heat for 3-4 minutes.  Add 2 teaspoons of chana masala.  Stir and cook for 4-5 minutes.   Taste and serve with chapatti, naan or parathas.


Cabbage Thoran (Kerela) Fogath (Karnataka) Poriyal (Tamilnadu)


I first came across this dish in Kerela but was interested to find it is also a much loved dish in Bengal.


Serves 4-6


1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

a pinch of freshly ground cumin (jeera)

a pinch of turmeric powder

15 curry leaves, fresh or frozen

2 dry red chillies

200g (7ozs) grated fresh coconut

1 cabbage, washed and finely chopped/diced



Heat the oil in a wok or sauté pan to smoking point. Add the mustard seeds, cumin (jeera), turmeric, curry leaves, chilli.  Stir, add the coconut and cabbage and continue to stir-fry on a low heat (fire).  Cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes or until cooked.  Taste and correct seasoning.


Tomato Khata


Serves 5-6


1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

20g (3/4 oz) crushed garlic

2-3 green chillies, thinly sliced

10-15g (1/2 oz) mango ginger or ordinary fresh ginger, peeled and grated

500g (18ozs) chopped tomato

2-3 bay leaves

salt to taste


coriander leaf


Put oil into a wok, heat, add the mustard seed, garlic, chilli, ginger and chopped tomatoes and bay leaf.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes stir every now and then.  Add salt and sugar.  Taste and add fresh coriander.



Masala Baby Corn


Serves 4


1 tablesp. vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon cumin (jeera)

50g (2ozs) onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon ginger, chopped

1/4 teaspoon green chilli, chopped

1 teaspoon red chilli powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

salt to taste

100g (3 1/2 ozs) tomato, chopped

300g (11ozs) baby corn, diced

a pinch of garam masala



1/2 teaspoon green coriander, chopped


Heat the oil in a pan, add the cumin (jeera) and fry until it crackles and add the onion and ginger.  Fry until golden brown and add the chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric and salt.  Cook for a few minutes.  Add the tomatoes and baby corn, cover and cook for a few minutes.  Add a pinch of garam masala.  Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot.



Hot Tips

Enjoy A Taste of India with Darina Allen on Wednesday 17th September 2008

9.30- 12.30 – Tel 021-4646785 


Cork City has at last recognised the importance of the great tradition of the crubeen and Katty Barry with the opening of An Crubin .A food and drink emporium with hosts Paul Lewis and Frank O Connell.

Together with An Crubin and Beamish, Cork City Slow Food Convivium is holding a traditional evening of pigs trotters,tails,ribs and cheek, with Arbutus artisan handmade breads and creamy pints of cool Beamish.

Venue   An Cruibin, on Thursday April 17th, members €10, non-members €15



Slow Sausage Sunday –Sunday 27th April 2008

Wicklow Slow Food – The Garden Convivium

Venue: Rear 15A, Georges St Upper, Dún Laoghaire. Time 11.00am-14.00pm

This workshop will be aimed at children (ably assisted by an adult!). We will be making sausages from scratch, focusing on taste. The children will be mixing, filling and linking their own sausages by hand, in 1 kg batches, which they will all get to take home and cook.  As this event takes place in a real sausage kitchen, it will be cold and wet! So be sure to wear nice clean wellies and warm clothes You will also need an apron and a sense of fun! Booking is essential as places are limited. Please email to confirm by 24th April. Space at Hick’s is also limited… foldable buggies only please!

Cost: € 20.00 per child for members and €30.00 per child for non-members.

(Accompanying adults are free)

Special Offer  – Any non member who joins up on the day will get to attend for free!! Annual membership is €50 per person more info on


The perception of the city of Calcutta , or Kolkatta as it is now called, is changing fast. At last it is beginning to acquire an image other than that of destitute poor and the Black Hole of Calcutta.

The economic boom in India means that third world meets first world on every street, Mercs glide alongside belching tuc tucs, glitzy shopping malls spring up in the midst of the roadside food stalls and dhabas.  Yet Calcutta is unique in India in retaining its trams, and is the only metropolis in the world to still have hand-pulled rickshaws.   You take your life in your hands every time you attempt to cross the street with a sea of honking yellow ambassador taxis, bicycles, tuc tucs and motorbike riders, some with funny helmets from World war two.

Unimaginable loads are carried on Honda heroes and old Enfield motorcycles, two adults and two children, sheets of glass or plywood propped up between the rider and the pillion passenger, building materials, crammed baskets, vegetables, live chickens, fish. ….  We once saw a water buffalo with feet tied squished into a tuc tuc.  Of course there are vibrant markets, fruit, vegetables and spice markets where vendors sit crossed legged on the ground calling to attract passers-by to their wares, which might be just a handful of vegetables or a couple of fish.   We rose at dawn to go outside to explore Calcutta ’s wetlands, not normally on a tourist itinerary, but this unique eco-system,  2000 hectares of lakes and marshland, an extraordinary eco achievement where the night soil of the city is piped out through a natural reed bed system.    This not only purifies the water but leaves it rich in mineral deposits and plankton, making it a prime producer of some of the world’s most sustainable fish on a massive scale – over 10,000 tons of fish a year is produced.    Furthermore a series of market gardens have been created on the rich fertile soil between the ponds, these produce lush vegetables and leafy greens, spinach, oracle, coriander, mustard greens, squash blossoms, coriander…..

We arrived in the little village of Bantala about 15 kilometres from the centre of Calcutta  soon after 7am just in time to catch the end of the fish auction.  Fishermen on bicycles, with saddles made from old tyres, arrived from the surrounding area with tin vessels called decki, covered with wet sacking attached to their carriers, these were full of live fish.  The fish merchants were waiting, sitting cross-legged in their latticed bamboo huts.  The fishermen cycled up, they upended their bicycles, front wheel in the air to tip the wriggling fish into the plastic barrels so the auctioneer could assess the quality of the catch.   The fish was weighed on huge balance scales, the bidding started, 46-48 rupees a kilo seemed to be the going rate that morning.  The fishermen, dressed in traditional dhoti would have waded knee deep in the shallow ponds for hours catching the fish with little nets and sometimes with their bare hands.

After the transaction, the fish is transported still live into the fish market in Calcutta , but they go along to a tea shack to enjoy a glass of chai, hot sweet spiced tea, swap fishy yarns before picking up some fresh vegetables from the roadside market to take home to make a simple stew.   Although many people are very poor the basic food is still very nutritious.

On the outskirts of the village we came upon an entire family on the roadside making chals kumar from gram flour mixed with ginger and chilli powder.   Three generations passing the skills from grandparents to grandchildren.   They picked off balls of dough and left it to dry in the sun on a sheet of canvas.    These provide little sundried nuggets, a nutritious staple to eat with gravy or daal.   In the city they are dried on the roof, but this skill is fast disappearing as more people become affluent and buy them ready made in packets, even though they are a vastly inferior product according to Ankur, our guide.

Back in the city, later in the morning, we headed for the bustling office district where the street food is at its most riveting.  Each stall has its own speciality.  There under makeshift awnings are charcoal stoves with kadhi full of oil to cook pakoras and shungara, the Bengali names for samosas. Little stalls piled high with biryani pots, mutton stew, daals, chow mein ( Calcutta has the oldest Chinatown outside China .)    Each stallholder offers up a puja (prayer) to the Gods before they start and there is always an auspicious symbol of limes and chillies strung together, hanging from the stall for good luck.

Several stalls were rolling out dough for a variety of breads, chapatti and luchi,  others slapped paper thin rounds of dough onto red hot upturned metal kadhi (wok like pot) to make romali roti (handkerchief bread) in seconds.   In fact some of the best food I’ve tasted comes from street stalls and dhabas in India .   It is freshly cooked and hot, and in my experience a much safer bet than lukewarm hotel buffets.  The complexity of the food and traditional cooking skills are mesmerizing.  The flavour of every thing I tasted was truly delicious – nourishing complex food.  The number of people that these and other street stalls feed every day is staggering, not just thousands but millions in Calcutta alone.

Eggy toast is another speciality, a sustaining snack for just 5 rupees,   Thick slices of partly toasted white bread were piled high.  There’s a shallow griddle pan on a kerosene stove. A little groundnut oil goes in, quick as a flash he whisks a fresh egg in a tin bowl, adds chopped onion, chilli, fresh coriander leaves, a good pinch of salt, straight onto the pan. The stack of toasted bread is dipped into this sizzling omelette like mixture, first one side is cooked on the smoking hot griddle, then the other – its done.  Cut in quarters, scatter on some rock salt and pepper, wrapped in newspaper 5 rupees, next please – so good and filling.   A glass of sweet spicy tea from a chai wallah and then a sweetmeat or two.  Bengalis have a compulsive love of sweets made from chana and jaggery, an acquired taste for a visitor.  Don’t leave Calcutta without tasting rosagulla and my favourite cooked yoghurt at Kewpies Restaurant, famous for serving Bengali home cooking.

The Calcutta Kitchen written by Simon Parkes, presenter on BBC 4’s Food Programme and Udit Sarkhel, of the best known Bengali chefs in Britain – has delicious recipes for Bengali cooking  and snapshots of the fish ponds, markets, artisan food producers, restaurants, clubs, cooks, gourmet, and street foods that play a part in the Calcutta’s rich culinary culture.  Here are some recipes from the book, published by Mitchell Beazley.


Aloo Makallah – Crusty potatoes


These potatoes serve as an accompaniment to almost every Jewish meal.  You can never make enough of them, so when cooking, use at least 4-5 per head! Ideally, use small potatoes and cook them whole; but if you use large ones, cut them in half or into quarters.  Try not to use new-season potatoes, as you need a bit of starch. 


Serves 4

16-20 small potatoes

1tbsp turmeric


vegetable oil for deep frying


Peel the potatoes and place in a pot with cold water to cover.  Add the turmeric and salt to taste, and parboil for about 8-10 minutes.  Drain, dry and pierce at random with the tines of a fork.

Place the potatoes in a Karai or heavy wok, cover with cold oil, then bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down and simmer gently, moving the potatoes around, for about 20 minutes.  At this point, the potatoes can be removed and kept until almost ready to serve, if you wish. 

Simmer for another 8-10 minutes.  Once the potatoes start turning light golden, turn up the heat slightly and fry until they are a darker gold and crisp on the outside.

Drain well and serve immediately.



Bhapa Doi – Steamed Sweetened Yoghurt


This creamy, slice-able, textured pudding is similar to a crème caramel – one of my favourites.  The sweetness of the condensed milk works wonderfully with the acidity of the plain yoghurt.


Serves 4


800g (1lb 12 oz) natural yoghurt

300g (10½oz) sweetened condensed milk

seeds of 6 green cardamon pods

powdered in a mortar and pestle

8-10 saffron strands



Sliced pistachio nuts


Heat some water in a steamer.  If you do not have a steamer, upturn a small, metal, flat-bottomed bowl inside a lager pot with a fitting lid.  Pour water into this and bring to a simmer.  Put the item to be steamed into a suitable dish, cover with clingfilm, and place on the upturned bowl to steam. 

Mix the yoghurt and other ingredients in a cool glass bowl and aerate it rapidly with a hand whisk.  Do not over-whisk for fear of the whey separating.  Pour it into 4 individual serving bowls, cover with clingfilm and put in the steamer or on to the upturned bowl.  Cover with the lid and steam on a steady simmer for 35-40 minutes. 

Carefully remove the bowls and leave to cool.  Remove the clingfilm and chill. 

Serve chilled, sprinkle with the sliced pistachio nuts. 





Roast bhetki Portuguese


Bhetki is highly prized by Bengalis for its flavour and lack of bones.  This recipe uses fillets, and most all fishmongers in Calcutta will fillet the fish for you.  The “Portuguese” connection is in the use of peppers and tomatoes.  Portuguese cooks were found in Park Street restaurants, and came from Portuguese settlements around Calcutta in places such as Bandel (famous for its many beautiful churches). 


Serves 4


1 large piece bhetki, or cod or halibut fillet, about 800g (1lb 12oz)


juice of 1 lemon


1cm (½in) piece fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped

1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed

2 tbsp vegetable oil

a few sprigs of fresh parsley, finely chopped



50g (1¾oz) butter

2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

1 medium red onion, peeled and finely chopped

¼ tsp turmeric

¼ tsp red chilli powder

a pinch of granulated sugar (or, more interesting, 2 tbsp port)

1 green sweet pepper, seeded and diced

1 red sweet pepper, seeded and sliced

2-3 medium tomatoes, chopped

200g can chopped tomatoes


Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4


Wash the fillet of fish and pat dry.  Use, whole or, depending on the size of your oven and your dish, cut in half.  Sprinkle with the lemon juice and salt to taste.  Make a paste in the blender with the ginger, garlic and black peppercorns, and rub this into the fish.  Leave to marinate, covered, for about half an hour.

Meanwhile, make the sauce.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan, add the garlic and onion, and cook for 2 minutes, until translucent.  Add the turmeric, chilli powder and sugar (or port), and fry for a minute.  Add the green and red peppers and sauté for a minute.  Add the fresh and canned tomatoes and stir.  Cook on a medium heat for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick.  Taste for seasoning. 


While this is cooking, heat the oil in a large ovenproof pan or casserole.  Brown the fish briefly on both sides, taking care not to break it while turning.  Top the fish with the thickened sauce, and put the dish into the oven for about 15 minutes, covered.  Turn up the heat to 190C/375F/gas mark 5, and cook the fish for another 3-4 minutes, uncovered.  Serve immediately with some crusty Portuguese-type bread. 




Kuku – Spicy Spinach and Herb Omelette


This is an Armenian dish, normally eaten as a precursor to a meal, not a starter, or as a late-morning light meal, served with crusty Armenian bread.  This bread is a bit like ciabatta or country rolls, with a crust created by wood-fired ovens (there are quite a few wood-fired Armenian bakeries in Calcutta ).


Serves 4

250g (9oz) fresh spinach leaves

250g (9oz) fresh coriander

250g (9oz) spring onions with green stalks

1½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp Madras curry powder

1 tbsp plain flour

1 tbsp vegetable oil


Wash, drain well, and chop the spinach, coriander and spring onions.  Sprinkle with salt and leave for an hour.  Gently squeeze out as much liquid as possible, using your hands (you don’t want to break up the leaves too much).

Beat the eggs in a large bowl, and add the baking powder, curry powder, flour and greens, flour and greens.  Mix together. 

Heat the oil in a large omelette pan and pour in the egg mixture.  Scramble it lightly, then allow it to set, covered with a dinner plate, for about 2 minutes.  The top should set fully.

The omelette can be folded over and then sliced, or left whole like quiche and cut into wedges or quarters.


Foolproof Food



250ml (9fl oz) full fat milk

2-3 cardamom pods

2.5cm (1inch) piece of cinnamon

3 peppercorns

3 teaspoons loose tea leaves

500ml (18fl oz) boiling water



Put all the ingredients except the tea leaves and the sugar into a saucepan, bring slowly to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes.  Bring back to the boil, add the tea leaves, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer for 1-2 mins.  Turn off the heat and allow the leaves to settle.  Serve in tea cups.


Hot Tips

Slow Food for Kids at Hosfords Garden Centre in West Cork on Sunday 6th April

Official opening by Denis Cotter of Café Paradiso,  market, cookery demonstration, worm composting demonstration, clown, demonstrations on growing vegetables and much, much more Tel 023-39159,  


Mallow’s First Farmers Market, today 5th April at Bank Place – between Mallow Travel and O’Flynn’s Furniture outside URRU Culinary Store 10.30am – 1pm

Leading Irish farmhouse cheeses like Ardrahan, Hegarty’s Cheese, Fermoy Natural Cheese Company, organic fruit and vegetables…. The market will run on alternate Saturdays to the Kilavullen Farmers Market, offering a weekly market option for the region.


Spring Gardening Workshop At Country Choice, Nenagh, Co Tipperary with Jim Cronin from 7.00-10.00pm – Planning and Planting, Sowing Tips, Container Gardening, Natural Pest and Disease Control – Grow your own vegetables!

Contact Country Choice at 067-32596 to book place or email


Conference 18 & 19th April – The Irish Institute of Medical Herbalists –

The Complexity of Herbal Medicine and the Implications for Research – at Cork Institute of Technology – enquiries to Tel 021-4326885


Past Letters