ArchiveSeptember 2008

A Delicious Journey – Daisy Garnett

Recently I found the most enchanting little cookbook written in catchy prose by Daisy Garnett. It documents how she ‘Came to cooking’ and for me it was a real page turner.  Her delicious journey, took her on a small sailing boat, took on her from New York where she had been a staff writer on Vogue for 12 years to the Azores and then onto Lisbon.


At first it was a question of survival.  She roasted her first chicken somewhere off the coast of Florida in a small oven that swung on hinges in the narrow galley kitchen, that was after one of her companions showed her how to light the oven.  It was the first night of a 20 day journey across the Atlantic Ocean from America to Portugal.  Daisy had never sailed before so her four male companions assumed that she would be chef. It hadn’t even occurred to her to tell them that she’d never cooked before!


After the initial frustration and befuddlement over the oven, and the tears of panic, she realized that cooking isn’t exactly ‘trigonometry’, once you can actually turn on the oven and pop the chicken in, it will cook – if it is not done – you just put it back in for longer.  The biggest hurdle was over.


This was the beginning of a long adventure where Daisy determinedly learnt bit by bit how to cook for her friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Rose Grey of River Café was a huge inspiration as was Mark Hix and Simon Hopkinson.  She even persuaded her Mum, Polly Devlin, to part with the recipe for her one star turn Pasta Puttanesca.  She even learned how to sprout seeds on the deck. 


She heard about Rory O’Connell’s one to one cooking lessons, so she sent her wish list and added some of her now ‘bestest’ recipes to her repertoire.  In Tangier her friend, Gordon’s Moroccan cook, Hafida shared her meatball recipe, a Buddhist drag queen friend showed her how to cook great lentils and so it continued. Now just a couple of years later Daisy regularly rustles up feasts for family and friends with ease and delight.


Daisy adores cooking, a love that now borders on obsession. Here is a little taste of the book which is full of hilarious food and family related anecdotes, her adventures are diverse and heart warming and will also give hope and inspiration to those who currently don’t know how to turn on the oven.

The following are extracts and recipes from Daisy Garnett’s book, ‘Cooking Lessons – Tales from the kitchen and other stories’


This is much easier than you might imagine from the bewildering amount of kit that you see for sale.  You don’t need any of those three-tiered contraptions that look like budgerigar cages – and could they be any more off putting?

All we did on the boat, as per Jeremy’s instructions, was put some seeds in a jam jar (each type of seeds gets its own jar, as their sprouting time varies), filled it about half way up with filtered water, punched holes in its lid, so that it didn’t get too stuffy in there, and then waited – for about 3 days.  Keep the jar away from direct sunlight, change the water and give the seeds a rinse using a sieve twice a day, which takes about thirty seconds.

We were skeptical at first.  Mung beans? Sprouted red lentils? What was the point? The trick is not just to chuck the sprouts at other things – they are pointless, lost in a leafy salad – but to handle them as delicacies in their own right.  A bowl of seed sprouts mixed together with seaweed flakes and a slug of tamari is a deliciously salty little snack.  It satisfies the potato-chip type of craving, but, unlike crisps, it is, actually, satisfying.  Or mix them with some cucumber, cored and cut into chunks, or slivers of raw fennel and Parmesan, then dress them with alight vinaigrette of just a little peppery olive oil.  Maldon salt and pepper.

A word about sprouted chickpeas: we ate them raw on the boat and they were good, but they are even better if you blanch them for a few seconds in boiling water.

We sprouted Mung beans, green lentils, chickpeas and sunflower and alfalfa seeds on the boat (the latter take longer, but you are rewarded with leafy little shoots rather than just sprouts), but you can sprout pretty much any seed, grain or legume.

I have now learnt a little bit more about sprouting, but all I’ve done is refine the process slightly.  I still sprout things in a jar or pint glass rather than in a germinator, but after soaking the seeds overnight in plenty of water, then draining them, I now just keep them wet, rather than sitting in water for the rest of the sprouting time.  I still rinse them in the morning and evening. And instead of punching holes in the top of the jam jar, I use a piece of muslin as a lid, secured on to the jar with a rubber bank.  It makes the rinsing and watering quicker and easier.


Spaghetti with Squid and Courgette

From River Café Two Easy by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers


Serves 4


500g (18ozs) squid

400g (14ozs) courgettes

400g (14ozs) spaghetti

3 tbsp good olive oil

Dried red chili, crumbled

2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely sliced

Juice and zest 1 lemon

2 tbsp marjoram


Finely slice the squid from the body and separate the tentacles so that they are in tiny bite-sized pieces.  (Make sure that the fishmonger prepared the squid for you be scraping off its pulpy membrane and squeezing out the beak etc.  This is pretty standard practice when buy fresh squid, and squid must always be very, very fresh.  Don’t buy it unless you are going to use it later the same day.)

Wash the courgettes and grate them at an angle on the large side of the grater. Sprinkle with a salt and drain in a colander for fifteen minutes.

Start cooking the spaghetti in a large pan of boiling salted water, according to packet instructions.

Wash the salt form the courgettes and pat dry.  This will get rid of some of the moisture that they carry around with them,

Heat a large heavy-bottomed frying pan over a medium heat, add the oil and when it is smoking hot add the squid.  Stir briefly, then season with Maldon salt, freshly grounded black pepper and the chili.  Add the courgettes and garlic. Stir-fry to just brown the squid and soften the courgettes.  Add the lemon juice and zest and the marjoram and stir well.  Remove from the heat.

Drain the spaghetti when it is al dente and add the squid mixture.  Toss together and serve at once.



Tomato and Basil Lasagne

Adapted from Living and Eating by Annie Bell & John Pawson


This is a wonderful recipe, because instead of a béchamel sauce (which I’m not mad about, it being white and floury) you use mozzarella and a really good tomato sauce.  Not that I sought out a béchamel-less lasagne on purpose.  God forbid I shy away from and ingredient.  I made this just because it sounded good, and was vegetarian (I first made it when I was giving a dinner for a vegetarian from New York). I’ve never cooked any other lasagne since discovering it, and everyone I’ve ever made it for, except the New Yorker (who doesn’t cook) has asked me for the recipe, which isn’t mine, its Annie Bell’s.


Serves 6


1.3kg (3lbs) beefsteak tomatoes

4 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil

And onion, peeled and finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

2tbsp tomato puree

75ml (3fl ozs) red wine

A bay leaf

2 sprigs thyme

1tsp caster sugar

250g (9ozs) dried egg lasagne

3 buffalo mozzarella cheeses (350g in total), diced

75g (3ozs) Parmesan cheese, finely grated

8 large basil leaves, torn in half


First make the tomato sauce by coring, peeling and coarsely chopping the beefsteak tomatoes.  Remove their skins by putting them in as small a container as they’ll fit in (I often use a measuring jug), pouring boiling water over them and counting to 10 slowly – the skins should slip off easily.

Heat three tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium sized saucepan over a moderate heat.  Add the onion and let it sweat for a few minutes until it is soft and translucent.

Add the garlic and stir around with the onion for a moment or two before adding the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, red wine, bay leaf and sprigs of thyme.  Bring everything to a simmer and cook over a low hear for half an hour, stirring occasionally.

Remove the thyme and bay leaf before beating the sauce to a slushy puree using a wooden spoon.

Add the caster sugar and season with Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper.  That’s your sauce and it’s very good basic tomato sauce for anything from eating very simply over pasta to using in dishes like aubergine Parmigiano.

Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas mark 5 and use a 28cm by 20cm by 6cm baking dish.  Cover the base of the dish with some tomato sauce, then add a layer of lasagne, cover that with tomato sauce, scatter over some mozzarella and parmesan and dot with a couple of torn basil leaves.  Repeat these layers using the remaining ingredients.  You should have four layers of pasta in all.  Finish with tomato sauce and cheese, omitting basil from the final top layer.  Instead drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the surface and cover with foil.  You can prepare the lasagne to this point in advance and chill it for up to twelve hours until you need it.

Bake the lasagne in the oven for twenty minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another twenty-five minutes until the top is golden and bubbling.  Serve straight away.



Lemon Pound Cake

By Daisy Garnett


Pound cake gets its name because it was originally make using equal weights (a pound, unsurprisingly) of each key ingredient.  This is a slight variation on the traditional recipe and produces a richer, more buttery cake.


Make about 12 slices


3 large eggs

2 tbsp milk

1½ tsp vanilla extract (the good stuff)

170g (5¾ozs) plain flour, sifted

170g (5¾ozs) of caster sugar

3 tbsp poppy seeds (optional)

1 tbsp lemon zest, grated

¾ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

195g (6¾ozs) unsalted butter, softened


For the syrup

60ml (2½fl ozs) fresh lemon juice, strained

6 tbsp caster sugar


For the lemon icing

3 tbsp double cream

220g (7ozs) icing sugar, sifted

Zest and juice of one lemon


Have all your ingredients at room temperature and preheat your oven to 180ºc/350ºF/gas mark 4.  Grease and sprinkle with flour a 22cm (8½ inch) long loaf tin, or line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a largish bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk with the vanilla extract.  In another, larger bowl, whisk together the plain flour, caster sugar, poppy seeds (if you are using them), lemon zest, baking powder and salt.

Add half of the egg mixture to the flour, mixture along with the butter and beat on a low speed in a mixer, if you’ve got on (on the boat, by hand, the speed was certainly low), until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Increase the speed to high (or try to) and beat for exactly one minute.  Scrape the side of the bowl and gradually add the remaining egg mixture in two parts. Beating for twenty seconds after each addition.

Scraping around the inside of the bowl transfer the batter to the tin and spread out the mixture evenly.  Bake until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the centre comes away clean – about sixty-five minutes.

Just before the cake is ready, make the syrup to drizzle over it.  This is an essential component.  Place the strained lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven place it (still in its pan) on a rack and poke it all over with a wooden skewer and brush with half the lemon syrup.  Let it cool in the pan for ten minutes, and then slide a slim knife around the cake to loosen it from the pan, and invert it onto a greased rack.  Peel off the parchment paper lining if you used one.  Poke the bottom of the cake as you did the tip and brush on some more of the syrup over the sides of the cake.  Let it cool, right-side up on the rack.  The cake is best if wrapped and stored in an airtight container for 24 hours before serving.


The lemon icing

To dot the i’s and cross the t’s, I also paint on a thin lemon icing made by gently heating the double cream and beating it together with the icing sugar until the mixture is smooth.  Add the lemon zest and juice and a pinch of salt and mix together until smooth.  You can always add in a bit more icing sugar or lemon juice if you think the consistency needs thickening or thinning, but bear in mind that the icing tends to thicken anyway, once it is left to settle




Are you interested in:    Healthy eating? Getting some exercise? Saving a little money on food? Reducing you carbon footprint?  More and more people are!

Having an allotment is possibly the answer you are looking for……

For more information please go to – a notice board for everybody in Ireland interested in growing their own  or for more information please send an email to


There are still a number of places available for the workshop entitled ‘Exploiting the nutrients of fruits, vegetables and herbs’ which will take place in the Board Room, Library and Information System Building, University of Limerick on Tuesday 30th September 2008.
This workshop will describe the nutrients contained in fruits and vegetables and their associated healthy components; present research on ways to optimise antioxidant levels during harvesting and processing of fruits, vegetables and herbs and highlight future trends in fruit and vegetable consumption. In relation to herbs, the growing conditions, extraction process and concentration of the antioxidants will be discussed.
For further information or to register for the workshop contact the RELAY co-ordinating office on 025-42321/42247, fax: 025-42293 or email:
To download the workshop programme, please click here: Exploiting the nutrients of fruits, vegetables and herbs


Slow Food Nation

In 2001 Eric Schlosser’s book Fast Food Nation hit the book stands in the US. It rocked the consciousness of the nation and stayed on the New York best sellers list for more than two years.  Its revelations about how the fast food industry operates and how animals are reared and slaughtered on huge feed lots in the Mid-West forced Americans to think about animal welfare issues. It highlighted the appalling working conditions and pitiful rates of pay of the meat and migrant workers.

Since then McDonalds and other chains have undergone a metamorphosis as they adapt to the growing customer demand for ethically produced meat and more healthy food.  Other books, documentaries and films and acres of newsprint are helping to heighten awareness that things are going horribly wrong on many levels.

Even governments now are no longer in denial about climate change and global warming and even more importantly are beginning to face the decidedly uncomfortable fact that we can no longer really depend on cheap fuel. There is a huge urgency to prepare ourselves for a world fast approaching where fossil fuel will become so prohibitively expensive that we are forced to do without or find alternatives.

Let’s stop and think for a moment, take the dairy farmer. He picks up the phone to order diesel for his tractors “Sorry there won’t be another delivery for 4 months”.  An hour later the power goes.  The 100 cows need to be milked.  Where does he start, he can remember how to milk but how can he teach the younger workers.  The design of the milking parlor does not facilitate hand milking and where will he find a 3 legged stool.  Even if he does manage to milk, what will he do with it? If the milk tanker comes, the creamery would be in the same boat!

I’ll stop here but you must get the message.  This kind of scenario is hard to think about in fact most people are in complete denial that it or something similar is not as far away as we might think so we would do well to dwell on the new era we are going into and prepare.

At Slow Food Nation in San Francisco last weekend there was a lot of talk about transition farming and transition towns and villages.  Mayor of London Boris Johnson announced the London Climate Change Adaptation Strategy which encourages people to take a variety of measures to prepare for what is now completely inevitable.  It is not a case of if but when.

San Francisco and indeed most of California is unquestionably a place apart.  There is an awareness and consciousness about food and environmental issues.  I feel that for sure folks in Minnesota or Idaho may not see the same reality, even though they have many challenges.  Factory farming has so damaged the environment that farming is becoming impossible in some areas.  There are problems of soil fertility, soil erosion and chronic pollution.

In the U.S. there are more people in prison than there are farmers and the number of farmers has shrunk so dramatically that the National Census does not carry a category for farmers.  They must register under ‘Others’ – How can it have happened that we so undervalue the very people who provide us with our means of life.  But in the midst of despair and despondency there is certainly hope – something is definitely stirring at grass roots level.  People are no longer waiting for governments to do it, individuals and committees are taking the initiative themselves.  Slow Food and environmental activists are joining to develop local food initiatives.  Slow Food Nation attracted 60,000 visitors over a weekend of seminars.  Inspirational and visionary speakers brainstormed on a new way forward and how to bring about change and encourage sustainable food production world wide so that all food will nourish rather than merely fuel.  The new Declaration for  Healthy Food and Agriculture was launched and when it has been signed by more than 300,000 it will be presented to the incoming President of the United States as the voice of the American people that than the multi nationals.  Thousands and thousands of people ate, drank and were merry as they toasted the farmers, fishermen and artisans and celebrated the beautiful fresh produce of the Bay Area.  It was truly a life changing experience.


Crab Apple or Bramley Apple Jelly


Makes 2.7-3kg (6-7 lb)


2.7kg (6 lb) crab apples or wind fall cooking apples

2.7L (4 3/4 pints) water

2 unwaxed lemons



Wash the apples and cut into quarters, do not remove either peel or core. Windfalls may be used, but make sure to cut out the bruised parts. Put the apples into a large saucepan with the water and the thinly pared rind of the lemons, cook until reduced to a pulp, approx. 3/4 hour.

Turn the pulp into a jelly bag* and allow to drip until all the juice has been extracted – usually overnight.  Measure the juice into a preserving pan and allow 450g (1lb) sugar to each 600ml (1pint/2 1/2 cups) of juice.  Warm the sugar in a low oven.


Squeeze the lemons, strain the juice and add to the preserving pan. Bring to the boil and add the warm sugar. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Increase the heat and boil rapidly without stirring for about 8-10 minutes.  Skim, test and pot immediately.

Flavour with sweet geranium, mint or cloves as required (see below). 


Apple and Sweet Geranium Jelly

Add 6-8 large leaves of sweet geranium while the apples are stewing and put a fresh leaf into each jar as you pot the jelly.


Apple and Clove Jelly

Add 3-6 cloves to the apples as they stew and put a clove in each pot.  Serve on bread or scones.


Apple and Mint Jelly

Add 4-6 large sprigs of fresh mint to the apples while they are stewing and add 4-8 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint to the jelly just before it is potted.   Serve with lamb.


Apple and Elderberry Jelly

Add a fist or two of elderberries to the apple and continue as above. Up to half volume of elderberries can be used. A sprig or two of mint or sweet geranium or a cinnamon stick enhances the flavour further.





Meringue Roulade with Blueberries and Blueberry Coulis
Serves 6 – 8


4 organic egg whites

8 ozs (225g) castor sugar

1/2 pint (300ml) whipped cream

8ozs (225g) Irish blueberries


Sprigs of Mint, Lemon Balm or Sweet Cicely


Fresh Irish blueberry coulis (see recipe below)


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


Preheat the oven to 180ºC\350ºF\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 together.  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 blueberry coulis (see below). 


To Assemble

Spread the whipped cream and blueberries over the meringue, roll up from the wide end and carefully ease onto a serving plate. Pipe 6–8 rosettes along the top of the roulade, decorate with mint leaves.

Serve, cut into slices about 1 inch (2.5cm) thick accompanied by a little fresh blueberry coulis.


Note:  This roulade is also very good filled with raspberries, loganberries, sliced strawberries, peaches, nectarines, kiwi fruit, bananas, or mango and passionfruit.


Blueberry Coulis
Serves 8


8 ozs (225g) Irish blueberries

2 ozs (50g) icing sugar


Put the blueberries into the blender with the sugar, blend. Taste and add a little lemon juice if necessary. Store in a fridge. 





Rose Hip Syrup

Rose hips are new in season so make this delicious cordial bursting with Vitamin C; it’s also great with proccesso as an aperitif


Makes 2 pints

Use either wild rose hips – Rosa cavina  -  or the hips of Rosa rugosa


2 lbs (900g) Rosehips

4 ½ pints (2.6 L) water

1 lb (450g) sugar


Bring three pints of water to the boil.  Meanwhile chop or mince the rosehips

just as soon as they are ready add them to the water and bring it back to the boil.

Remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 15 minutes.

Strain through muslin.  Put the pulp back into the saucepan, add another 12 pints

water and bring to the boil, infuse and strain as before.  Pour all the juice

into a clean saucepan, reduce uncovered to 1 2 pints.  Add in the sugar, stir to

dissolve and allow to boil for 5 minutes.

Pour the syrup into sterilized bottles.  Cover with screw top caps. 

Serve with ice cream or use as the basis for a drink.


Damson & Bramley Apple Tart

Serves 8-12


The pastry is made by the creaming method so people who are convinced that they suffer from ‘hot hands’ don’t have to worry about rubbing in the butter.  It is quite simply the best pie pastry.  Individual tarts may also be made.


Break all the Rules Pastry
225g (8oz) butter

50g (2oz) castor sugar

2 eggs, free range and organic

350g (12oz) white flour, preferably unbleached


700g (1 1/2lb) Bramley Seedling cooking apples

225g (½lb) or more wild Damsons

150g (5oz) sugar

Egg wash, made with one beaten egg and a dash of milk

Castor sugar for sprinkling


To Serve
Softly whipped cream

Barbados sugar (soft dark brown sugar, not Muscovado)


1 x 18cm (7 inch) x 30.5cm (12 inch) x 2.5cm (1 inch) deep or 1 x 23cm (9 inch) round  tin or 1 x 23cm (9 inch) square


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


First make the pastry. Cream the butter and sugar together by hand or in a food mixer (no need to over cream). Add the eggs and beat for several minutes. Reduce speed and mix in the flour. Turn out onto a piece of floured greaseproof paper, flatten into a round wrap and chill. This pastry needs to be chilled for at least 1 hour otherwise it is difficult to handle.  Having said that, I have on occasions bunged all the ingredients into a food processor and whizz bang, whizz bang made the pastry in a matter of seconds and rolled in out minutes later albeit with a certain amount of difficulty.  Even if it does break a little it responds very well to being patched and appears flawless and golden when it is fully baked.


To make the tart
Roll out the pastry 5mm (1/4 inch) thick approximately, and use about 2/3 of it to line a suitable tin. Peel, quarter and dice the apples into the tart, top with Damsons (don’t remove stones). Sprinkle with sugar. Cover with a lid of pastry, seal edges, decorate with pastry leaves, egg wash and bake in the preheated oven until the apples are tender, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. When cooked cut into squares, sprinkle lightly with castor sugar and serve with softly whipped cream and Barbados sugar.


Rhubarb Tart
Make in exactly the same way but use approx. 900g (2lb) sliced red rhubarb (about 1/2 inch thick) and approximately 370-400g (13oz-14oz) sugar.






Irish Blueberry Drop Scones



Drop scones are so quick and easy to make, the blueberries make lovely addition.



Makes 24



10oz (275g) plain flour

1¾ oz (45g) sugar plus more for sprinkling on top

2 teasp. baking powder

¼ teasp. salt

3oz (75g) cold butter, cut into small pieces

2oz (50g) fresh or frozen Irish blueberries, thawed if frozen

1 large free range egg

6 fl.oz (175g) milk



Preheat the oven to 425F (220C/regulo 7)


In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.   Rub in the butter until crumbs form.  Stir in the blueberries.

Whisk the egg and milk together in a small bowl.   Add to the flour mixture and stir with a fork until the ingredients are moistened and bind together.  

Drop the batter in heaped tablespoons, 2 inches apart on a baking sheet.

Sprinkle with sugar and bake until golden brown for about 12 minutes.  Serve immediately.



Mushroom Hunt

Sunday 5th October, Cavan – Grounds of Radisson SAS Farnham Estate

Dinner: The Old Post Inn, Cloverhill

Mushroom hunt & picnic: Adults €30 / 12-16yrs €15 / Under 12’s  €5

Mushroom hunt, picnic & dinner: Adults €60 / 12-16yr €40 / Under 12’s €20

Booking:Call 01-6779995 or email by Monday 29th September


On Sunday 28th September

Stephen and Sarah Canty of Food for Thought are supplying a sumptuous West Cork Picnic, with all local good clean and fair produce. Wines from our very generous sponsors Febvre and Co.

Adults €20, children €8, €15 for 2, €22 for 3

Bookings, Simone at Interior living, 11 Mac Curtain Street, tel 4505819 from 10am to 5.30pm Mon – Sat


Talk on Codex Alimentarius by Ian Crane

The UN plan to eradicate Organic Farming and to destroy the Natural Health Industry

Thursday September 25th at 8pm

Quaker Meeting House, Summerhill South, Cork City

Entrance Fee €5


Organic, Fresh and Fab

Next week is National Organic Week so you will be seeing lots of articles in the media extolling the virtues of all things organic for the next few days.  I’m certainly going to add my ‘tuppence halfpenny worth’ because I am totally convinced of the value of spanking fresh organic produce in terms of flavour and nutrition.

Problem is nowadays no one believes anything unless it has been scientifically proven and therein lies the conundrum.

Very little research has been done in the organic sector by comparison with the conventional sector, moreover it is extremely difficult to get research done or to get answers to basic questions.   One could be forgiven for thinking that there was no great hunger to prove that there may be health benefits.

In August 2000, Sir John Krebs, the then head of the Food Standards Agency in the UK, enraged the Soil Association and other certifying bodies by saying that there was absolutely no scientific proof that organic was better.  He stated “there is not enough information available at present to be able to say that organic foods are significantly different in terms of their safety and nutritional content to those produced by conventional farming.”

He challenged them to prove him wrong.  This galvanized the Soil Association and others to take action.  They collected all the research that had been done.   Anything that didn’t stand up to peer review was discounted and the remainder was published in a book entitled ‘Organic farming, food quality and human health’ – A review of the evidence’

(available from the Soil Association price £12 – ISBN 0 905200 80 2) Tel 0044 117 314 5000.  Since then a number of important research projects are underway in the University of Newcastle (


For all the recipes below please try and use as many organic products as is possible.


Organic Apple and Custard Tart


Pears, gooseberries, apricots, rhubarb and plums are also good and the custard could be flavoured with a little cinnamon instead of vanilla if you want to ring the changes.

Serves 10-12



8 ozs (225g) plain organic flour

6 ozs (170g) butter

pinch of salt

1 dessertspoon icing sugar

a little beaten organic free range egg or egg yolk and water to bind



2-3 organic apples

1/2 pint (300ml) cream

2 large or 3 small eggs

2 tablespoons castor sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence 

4-6 tablespoons apricot glaze (see recipe)


1 x 12 inch (30.5cm) tart tin or 2 x 7 inch (18cm) tart tins


Make the shortcrust pastry in the usual way (see recipe) and leave to relax in a fridge for 1 hour. Line a tart tin (or tins), with a removable base and chill for 10 minutes. Line with paper and fill with dried beans and bake blind in a moderate oven 180C/350F/gas mark 4 for 15-20 minutes. Remove the paper and beans, paint the tart with a little egg wash and return to the oven for 3 or 4 minutes.  Allow to cool, then paint the base with apricot glaze.


Peel the apples, quarter, core and cut into even slices about one-eight inch thick. Arrange one at a time as you slice to form a circle inside the tart, the slices should slightly overlap on the inside, fill the centre likewise. Whisk the eggs well, with the sugar and vanilla essence, add the cream. Strain this mixture over the apples and bake at 180C/350F/gas mark 4, for 35 minutes. When the custard is set and the apples are fully cooked, brush generously with apricot glaze and serve warm with a bowl of whipped cream.


NB:  The apricot glaze here is essential for flavour not just for appearance.


Shortcrust Pastry

Sieve the flour and sugar into a bowl, cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour with the fingertips. Keep everything as cool as possible; if the fat is allowed to melt the finished pastry may be tough. When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, stop. Whisk the egg yolk and add the water.

Take a fork or knife (whichever you feel most comfortable with) and add just enough liquid to bring the pastry together, then discard the fork and collect the pastry into a ball with your hands. This way you can judge more accurately if you need a few more drops of liquid. Although slightly damp pastry is easier to handle and roll out, the resulting crust can be tough and may well shrink out of shape as the water evaporates in the oven. The drier and more difficult-to-handle pastry will give a crisper shorter crust.

Cover the pastry with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for a minimum of 15 minutes or better still 30 minutes. This will make the pastry much less elastic and easier to roll.


Organic Asian Chicken and Lettuce Rolls

This was one of our favourite recipes when Antony Worrall Thompson did a guest chef appearance at the Cookery School. We get our organic chickens from John Ahern at Born Free Organic Chicken, you can purchase organic chickens from him at the Midleton Farmer’s Market.


Serves 4


400g (14ozs) free range organic chicken mince 

1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely diced 

2 spring onions, finely chopped 

1 garlic clove, crushed  

1 teaspoon ginger, peeled and grated

1 teaspoon sesame oil 

2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander 

2 tablespoons chopped cashew nuts

1 carrot, julienne

2 tablespoons oyster sauce 

2 teaspoons clear honey

16–20 cos lettuce leaves 

Salt and freshly ground pepper

200g (7oz) brown basmati rice, cooked, to serve

lime wedges, to serve 


Mix the chicken mince with the chilli, spring onions, garlic, ginger and sesame oil. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and cook the mince mixture for about 5 minutes, breaking the meat up with the back of a fork until golden brown.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.


Add the coriander, cashews, carrot, oyster sauce and honey, stir to combine and continue to heat until the chicken is cooked through.  Taste and correct the seasoning.


Serve the mince with the lettuce leaves (each diner rolls the parcels themselves), cooked rice and lime wedges to squeeze – delish.  

Antony Worrall Thompson


Note: 25g (1oz) water chestnuts is a delicious addition to the above recipe.



Beef & Chorizo Stew

Serves 6-8


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

110g (4oz) organic chorizo sausage, sliced 

1kg (2lb) organic stewing beef, cut into 3 cm (1¼ inch) cubes

2 large onions, sliced

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons tomato puree

½ teaspoon paprika

1-teaspoon thyme leaves

4 tablespoons dry sherry

250ml (8 fl.oz)organic red wine

250ml (8 fl.oz) beef, chicken or vegetable stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper


Heat the oil in a heavy casserole over medium heat.   Add the sliced organic chorizo and cook until the oil begins to run, about 2-3 minutes.    Remove the chorizo and set aside in a bowl.   Increase the heat, add the organic beef to the pot and fry off in batches until sealed and well browned.  If the pan is over-crowded the meat will stew rather than brown.  Remove the beef from the pot and put in the bowl with the chorizo.


Add the onion to the pot (adding extra oil if required), and cook, stirring until golden and just starting to brown at the edges.   Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two 

Stir in the flour and cook for another minute.   Add the tomato puree, paprika and thyme and cook for a few seconds.   Then return the chorizo and beef to the pot.   Stir everything well, then add the sherry and wine, bring to simmering point, then add the hot stock or water.   Cover and simmer gently until the meat is tender, about 1½ hours.   We prefer to cook it in a pre-heated oven, 160c/325F/gas 3.   Season cautiously, but taste first because if the sausage is salty you may not need any additional salt, just some freshly ground pepper.  Serve scattered with roughly chopped parsley. 


Smashed Potatoes
Serves 8

4 lbs (1.8kg) organic  potatoes

creamy milk

salt and freshly ground pepper


4 scallions, optional


Scrub the potatoes really well, put into a saucepan.  Cover with cold water, add salt, bring to the boil and cook until almost tender.  Pour off most of the water.  Cover the saucepan and steam until fully cooked.  Drain off any remaining water.  Mash the potatoes coarsely with a potato masher; add some hot creamy milk, a large lump of butter, lots of salt and freshly ground pepper.  Add the finely sliced scallions, if using.  Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary.


Sadly there is no organic Irish butter it would be fantastic if someone could produce this to add to the wonderful array of organic products in Ireland.


Brown Soda Bread


275g/10 oz organic brown wholemeal flour (preferably stone-ground)

275g/10 oz organic plain white flour

1 teaspoon dairy salt

1 teaspoon bread soda (Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda), sieved

425ml/15 flozs approx. sour milk or buttermilk


First preheat the oven to 230C/450F/Gas 8


Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large wide bowl, make a well in the centre and pour in all of the sour milk or buttermilk. Using one hand, stir in a full circle starting in the centre of the bowl working towards the outside of the bowl until all the flour is incorporated. The dough should be soft but not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, a matter of seconds, turn it out onto a well floured board. WASH AND DRY YOUR HANDS. Roll around gently with floury hands for a second, just enough to tidy it up. Flip over and flatten slightly to about 2 inches (5cm) approx. Sprinkle a little flour onto a baking sheet and place the loaf on top of the flour. Mark with a deep cross and bake in a hot oven 230C/450F/Gas 8 after 15-20 minutes reduce the heat to 200C/400F/GAS 6 for approx. 20-25 minutes or until the bread is cooked (In some ovens it is necessary to turn the bread upside down on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before the end of baking) It will sound hollow when tapped.  Cool on a wire rack.

Note:  One could add 25g/1 oz fine oatmeal, 1 egg and 25g/1 oz stick butter to the above to make a richer soda bread dough.


Chocolate and Rosemary Mousse with Pouring Cream

Serves 8


Lovely Jane Grigson, the legendary British country writer, gave me this recipe when she came to teach at the Cookery School in 1989.


225g (8oz) castor sugar

225ml (8fl oz) dry white wine

Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon

600ml (1 pint) double cream

1 long branch of fresh rosemary

175g (6oz)  organic dark chocolate (Green & Black), chopped


Mix the sugar, wine and lemon juice in a stainless steel saucepan, stir until dissolved over a low heat.  Add the cream, bring to the boil – the mixture will thicken somewhat.  Add the rosemary and chocolate.  Stir, bring back to the boil then lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer very gently for 20 minutes.  It should be the consistency of thick cream.  Leave to cool, tasting occasionally to see if the rosemary flavour is intense enough.  Pour through a sieve into 8 ramekins or little shot glasses.  Cool, cover with cling film and refrigerate.


Serve with pouring cream and a sprig of rosemary.

Salad of Organic Salmon with poached egg and Organic Cheese


Serves 4


A mixture of organic salad leaves


170g (6ozs) of organic salmon


4 free-range organic eggs


Caesar Salad Dressing – see recipe


1oz (25g) freshly grated Mount Callan Organic Cheddar Cheese


First make the Caesar dressing – you will have more than you need for this recipe but it keeps for several weeks so save it in the refrigerator for another time.

Fill a small saucepan with cold water, add a little salt.  When the water is boiling, reduce the heat, crack the egg and allow it to drop gently into the water.  Cook in the barely simmering water for 4 to 5 minutes or until the white is set and the yolk is still soft. You may cook the eggs separately or together depending on the size of your saucepan.

Meanwhile heat a frying pan, add a little olive or sunflower oil and allow to heat, add the cubed salmon and cook turning regularly and gently until just cooked through. Season with salt and pepper

Put a little caesar dressing on the plate.  Quickly arrange a selection of lettuce and salad leaves on top.  Sprinkle the cubed salmon over the salad, top with a poached egg. Drizzle some caesar dressing over the poached egg and salad leaves. 

Sprinkle with freshly grated organic cheese (use a microplane or a fine grater) and a little chopped parsley and serve immediately.


Caesar Dressing


2 egg yolks, preferably free-range

2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1 x 2oz (55g) tin anchovies

1 clove garlic, crushed

a generous pinch of English mustard powder

2 teaspoons salt

½tablespoon Worcester sauce

½tablespoon Tabasco sauce

6fl oz (175ml) sunflower oil

2fl oz (50ml) extra virgin olive oil

50ml (2fl oz) cold water


We make this dressing in a food processor but it can also be made very quickly by hand. Drain the anchovies and crush lightly with a fork. Put into a bowl with the egg yolks, add the garlic, lemon juice, mustard powder, salt, Worcester and Tabasco sauce. Whisk all the ingredients together.  As you whisk, add the oils slowly at first, then a little faster as the emulsion forms. Finally whisk in the water. Taste and correct the seasoning: this dressing should be highly flavoured.


Fool Proof Food



Organic Cheese Toasties


Makes 4


8 slices of best white sliced bread


2 ozs (55g) approx. butter

8 ozs (225g) coarsely grated or sliced Mount Callan Organic Cheddar Cheese

Chopped parsley

Freshly ground pepper


A little salad

A few cherry tomatoes


Preheat a wide frying pan on a medium heat. 

Butter the bread slices, put one slice butter side down on the pan top with cheese. Finally press another slice of bread on top.  Smear a little butter onto the outside of the slice and flip over as soon as the base is nice and golden.  Cut into slices and serve on hot plates with a little salad and a few cherry tomatoes. 




A Taste of West Cork Food Festival is taking place in Skibbereen from the

16th – 21st September 2008

There will be open air food and craft market, gourmet barbecue, live music, healthy eating workshops, teddy bears picnic and many more entertaining activities.

You can see a full list of events on or contact

Eilis Coholan on 086 2223531


Inish Beg, Baltimore, County Cork

Inish Beg Cookery Courses Autumn 2008

Essentially Fish and a little bit of Duck – 2 day course 16th/17th October

Autumnal Ideas at Inish Beg – 2 day weekend course 18th/19th October

Tel: 028-21745 or email:


Erin Brockovich is coming to Dubin for National Organic Week

The Erin Brockovitch Fund-Raiser For GM-Free Ireland

Will take place in O’Reilly Hall, UCD

Saturday 20th September at 1pm

Tickets can be purchased from


Slow Food Ireland are holding a Old Fashioned Threshing Event

A family day at Ballymaloe Cookery School

Sunday 14th September 4, 2008 12-5pm

Tickets available on the day.

Rachel Allen – Book signing

Forgotten Skills Demostration


Love Irish Lamb

Sheep Farmers not only in Ireland, but throughout Europe are having a particularly challenging time.   Several major supermarkets are offering 2 for the price of 1 which means the farmers get half the usual price for their produce.

I love lamb, the sweetness of Irish lamb reared on fresh grass is incomparable. Irish hill lamb is just coming into season so do ask your butcher for it.   It has a smaller leaner carcass and smaller cuts than the conventional lowland product, and due to the variation of vegetation it grazes on – heathers, grasses, furze – over extensive areas of hill and mountain, the meat has a sweeter and richer flavour.

 I was interested to taste some Blackface lamb in Skibbereen last week.  It has a distinctive flavour quite different to Suffolk or Suffolk Texel crosses, the lamb reared on the Knockmealdown mountains, tastes different again as do those from Wicklow and Connemara.  Why is it so difficult to identify the difference in butcher shops?

I and many chefs and customers would be interested to taste and compare individual breeds.  In other countries the demand for rare breed meat is gathering momentum – when we have it let’s flaunt it.  Butcher Andrew Sharpe from Cumbria has put Swallowdale and Herdwick lamb and mutton back on the menu, over 10 years ago he encouraged local farmers to sell directly to the public from the farmers market in Kendal.  The response was so overwhelming that they loaded up a van a few weeks later and headed for Borough Market, London, and customers went mad for it.  As a result they saved the livelihood of many of the sheep farmers in Cumbria.

In Ireland it’s all easy for chefs to be tempted to simplify their lives by ordering from a single catering supplier, individual joints arrive trimmed and identical and at a price. However, there’s a price to everything and if we don’t support all our farmers and serve our local lamb proudly it won’t be an option within a short time and then watch how the price will shoot up. According to Bord Bia Ireland produces about 60,000 tons of sheep meat annually, one third of this is consumed on the domestic market.  Average per capita consumption of lamb is about 5kg and this is about twice the average EU rate.  As well as being a source of protein, lamb is an excellent source of easily absorbed zinc, iron and vitamin B, especially B12.

Every scrap of lamb can be used.  A leg of lamb simply roasted can feed an entire family and depending on size can provide leftovers for tasty sandwiches or shepherds pie.  The loin provides two types of chops – side and centre loin and then there are meaty chump chops between the loin and leg.  The less expensive shoulder and neck make a delicious stew or the shoulder can be slow roasted for a joint that will have the entire family licking their lips.    Make a broth from the bones, add some diced vegetables and pearl barley and you’ll have the most comforting of soup.

Lamb shanks are still incredible value for money as is breast of lamb or lamb riblets which both children and adults adore.  I also love lambs kidneys which have to be the best value of all. 

Bord Bia also say that there is a growing trend towards purchasing value cuts such as burgers, diced and minced lamb which are useful for mid-week meal options.

Whichever joint we choose make sure its Irish.   Irish lamb is grass fed and free range.

 In the famous words of the late Jack Lynch ‘lets look after our own!’

Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Garlic and Marjoram

Serves 10-15

1 leg of lamb 2.5-3kg (5 1/2 -6 1/2lb), boned and butterflied (ask your butcher to do this)

6 cloves garlic, cut into slivers

110ml (4fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons marjoram or oregano

Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper


A few hours before cooking scatter half the slivered garlic and chopped marjoram over the base of a large non-reactive dish. Drizzle with some olive oil. Slash the skin side of the meat here and there and lay on top of the garlic and herbs.  Sprinkle the remainder of the herbs, garlic and olive oil over the top.  Season with lots of freshly cracked pepper.  Cover and allow to marinade for a minimum of 2-3 hours or better still overnight.


Remove meat from the marinade, season with sea salt and cook on a pre-heated barbecue. Grill for 30 to 40 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking time for medium rare. Let rest for 10 minutes and then carve into thin slices. Serve at once.

Alternatively cook in a preheated hot oven 230C/450F/gas mark 8 for 30-40 minutes or until cooked to your liking.

Rory O’Connell’s Spiced Lamburgers with Mint Chutney

Makes 8-12 depending on size


2lbs (900g) minced shoulder of lamb

8oz (225g) finely chopped onion

2oz (55g) butter

2 teaspoons of coriander, toasted and ground

2 teaspoons cumin seed, toasted and ground

salt and pepper

2 eggs



Ballymaloe Tomato Relish, fresh coriander leaves, diced apple and banana,  Banana and Yogurt Raita and Poppodums are also good with these.

Sweat the finely chopped onions gently in the butter until cooked.  Put to cool and then add them to the minced lamb and spices.  Add the lightly beaten eggs.  Season with salt and pepper.  Form into burger or patty shapes and refrigerate until required.  Cook on a hot grill or frying pan according to your own liking.  Serve with  Ballymaloe relish, mint chutney, a little diced apple and banana and a dusting of paprika. 

Foolproof Food
Fresh Mint Chutney

This fresh chutney is often served in India with curries. It is good with grilled fish or roast lamb instead of mint sauce.  Surprisingly, even though it is uncooked, this chutney will keep for several days in a covered jar or plastic container in the refrigerator.


1 large cooking apple (we use Grenadier or Bramley Seedling), peeled and cored

a large handful of fresh mint leaves, Spearmint or Bowles mint

55g (2oz) onions

30-55g (1-2ozs) castor sugar (depending on tartness of apple)

salt and cayenne pepper


Whizz all the ingredients in a food processor, season with salt and a little cayenne pepper.


Tip: Serve mint chutney as a really yummy dip with poppodums before dinner as a simple starter.


Lamb Kebabs with Tsatsiki

Serves 8 approx.


Choose kebab skewers carefully. They need to be flat and at least 3mm (⅛inch) wide, better still 5mm (¼inch). If they are round, the meat will swivel as you try to turn it. Best barbecued but kebabs may also be pan-grilled.


900g (2lb) lean shoulder or leg of lamb


 Marinade    1

300ml (½ pint) natural yoghurt

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

juice of ½ lemon


Marinade  2

6 tablespoons olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon annual marjoram, rosemary or thyme leaves

2 large garlic cloves, crushed

salt and freshly ground pepper

 metal skewers or kebab sticks

Accompaniments – Tsatsiki

Mix either or both marinades, cut the meat into 2.5cm (1inch) cubes approx., season with salt and freshly ground pepper and put into chosen marinade for 1 hour at least.  Drain the meat and thread into metal skewers or kebab sticks.  Grill for 7 -10 minutes over a barbecue.  Turn and baste with the marinade, serve with a green salad and chosen sauce eg. Tsatsiki



This Greek speciality is a delicious cucumber and yoghurt mixture and can be served as an accompanying salad or as a sauce to serve with grilled fish or meat.  Greek yoghurt is often made with sheep’s milk and is wonderfully thick and creamy.


1 crisp Irish cucumber, peeled and diced into ⅛-¼ inch dice approx.

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 heaped tablesp. of freshly chopped mint

 16 fl.oz (450ml) Greek yoghurt or best quality natural yoghurt

4 tablespoons cream


Put the cucumber dice into a sieve and sprinkle with salt and allow to drain for about 30 minutes.  Dry the cucumber on kitchen paper, put into a bowl and mix with garlic, a dash of wine vinegar or lemon juice and the yoghurt and cream.  Stir in the mint and taste, it may need a little salt and freshly ground pepper, or even a pinch of sugar.


Lamb Soup with Farmhouse Cheese – from Bord Bia                                       

Serves 4-6

675g neck or gigot lamb chops on the bone

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1-2 bay leaves

1 litre water

25g butter

25g flour

250ml milk

75-100g grated Farmhouse Cheddar

3-4 carrots, diced

2 leeks, finely chopped

3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

Salt and black pepper


To serve – Fresh mint/parsley, chopped 

Place the lamb on the bone into a saucepan.  Add the chopped onion, garlic and bay leaves and cover with the water.  Bring to the boil and simmer gently for an hour.  Remove the lamb and cut the meat into small pieces – discard the bones, but keep the lamb stock.


In a large saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour.  Cook for a minute, stirring all the time and then add the milk.  Simmer the sauce for two minutes, add the cheese, the lamb stock, lamb pieces and vegetables.  Simmer gently for half an hour stirring occasionally.  Season with salt and lots of black pepper.  Serve with chopped mint or parsley.  It needs only crusty bread to complete the meal.


Lamb and Mushroom Korma – from Bord Bia

Serves 4

1 large onion, finely chopped

Groundnut oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablesp. fresh root ginger, grated

1 teasp. ground cumin

1 teasp. ground coriander

1 fresh chilli, chopped

3-4 cardamom pods, seeded and crushed

1 teasp. turmeric

1kg shoulder of lamb, well trimmed and diced

125ml Greek Style natural yoghurt, mixed with 1 teasp. cornflour

225g mushrooms, sliced

1 tablesp. lemon/lime juice

Salt and black pepper



Sauté the onions in the oil in a heavy saucepan until lightly golden.  Add garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, chillies, cardamom and turmeric and fry gently for 2 minutes. Add lamb and coat with the onion and spice mixture.  Stir in the yoghurt, cover and simmer gently for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally or cook in the oven, Gas Mark 4, 180°C (350°F) for approximately 1 hour.


Add mushrooms and continue cooking for a further 15 minutes or until the lamb is tender.  Stir in the lemon/lime juice, season with salt and black pepper.  Garnish with a sprig of coriander or chervil and a fresh red chilli cut in half.


Delicious served with basmati rice.


Hot Tips


Bord Bia

Check out the Bord Bia website for lots more delicious lamb recipes.

Great Taste Awards –

The Great Taste Awards, which is organised by the Guild of Fine Food and often referred to as the Oscars of the food industry, is this year celebrating its 15th anniversary. 

Congratulations to Caroline Rigney of Rigneys Farm, near Adare, Co Limerick

For winning Award for her pork products – Caroline will be taking part in Terra Madre Pork Workshop on Friday 5th September at WIT Tel 061 39 3988

Caroline also runs a very successful farm guesthouse on their working farm.
Email: Website:

Corrin Hill Ice Cream also wins Great Taste Award

Corrin Hill Ice Cream from Fermoy is celebrating after winning a prestigious Great Taste Award.  The Cork dairy has received Gold Great Taste Awards for Corrin Hill Strawberry Ice Cream and Corrin Hill Natural Frozen Yogurt.
The Hollies, Castletown, Enniskeane, Co Cork

The Hollies is a  centre for training in Practical Sustainability . The aim of the project is to create working examples of what a sustainable society might look like in the areas of housing, energy, gardening, economics and community development.  Since 2003 work has gone into building a cob house , gardens , an orchard and woodland. Various natural building techniques can be seen.  In 2006 as part of an educational project a new garden was developed to sell organic produce at the Bandon Farmer’s market. There is also a wetland area and pond.  Visit the website  for more information and photos of the gorgeous cob buildings you will find there.


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