Memory Lane

A few weeks ago on 20th September, past students from 14 countries world wide converged on Ballymaloe Cookery School to help us to celebrate 25 years.

As ever it doesn’t seem that long ago since we converted some farm buildings into a little cookery school and tentatively put an ad in the Cork Examiner and the Irish Times.  We waited for the phone to ring and eagerly awaited the morning post. Eventually we started in September 1983 with just 11 students.  Within 2 years the first American student registered so we boldly added the word international to our next brochure.  From the beginning the school operated year round with a selection of 12 week certificate courses for those who wanted the skills to cook professionally and a variety of short courses for those who love to cook at home for family and friends.  In recent years we have added a series of ‘Forgotten Skills’ courses.  For those who would like to try their hand at homemade butter or cheese-making or curing bacon, smoking their own food or keeping a few chickens or bees………

There are afternoon cooking demonstrations on week days for those who are in the area and bespoke courses for corporate events, parties and celebrations.

We were blessed with the weather, a beautiful balmy autumn day, the sun shone on the hundreds of students as they hugged and greeted each other.  There was a lot of catching up to do, some hadn’t met for over 20 years. We had set up a Farmer’s Market with stalls brimming with delicious local food and the bounty of our farm.

There were tasty shrimps from Ballycotton with thick homemade mayonnaise, smoked fish from Bill Casey and Frank Hederman. Bowls of cucumber pickle, organic salad leaves and sweet cherry tomatoes from the green houses.

Past student Arun Kapil from Green Saffron had commandeered his brother to help him to ladle out bowls of freshly made chicken tikka with spices he imports directly from India.

Philip Dennhardt, Ted Berner and Garreth Granville were spit roasting a fat saddleback pig from the farm served with Brambly Apple sauce, Ballymaloe relish and crusty bread from Scott Walsh and Declan Ryan of Arbutus Breads.  Almost the entire Ferguson family from Schull came to man the Gubbeen stall and give people a taste of Fingal house cured charcuterie and cheese.

Many of the local farmers, cheese-makers, fishermen, butchers, bakers also joined us to celebrate and we were particularly delighted to have retired butcher Michael Cuddigan from Cloyne who supplied both Ballymaloe House and the Cookery School with fine meat for many generations.

We had a fine selection of farmhouse cheese and several of the cheese-makers came along including Jane Murphy from Ardsallagh, Mary Burns from Adrahan, the Keatings from Baylough cheese, Jeffa Gill from Durrus and Maria Collier from Cooleeney.

For pudding there were meringues, pink and white, blackberry and chocolate cupcakes, homemade strawberry and raspberry ice cream in sugar cones and summer fruit salad with rose geranium leaves.

Cork coffee roasters doled out cup after cup of coffee.

Students wandered through out the farm and gardens and into the cottages to relive the memories and to check out any changes since they were with us.

The music played and the guests stayed chatting at the long tables into the early evening.  It was such a joy to be reacquainted with so many of our past students some of whom had traveled from the other side of the world.  We are so proud of each and every one.

A Plate of Irish Charcuterie and Cured Meats

One of my favourite easy entertaining tricks is to serve a selection of Irish artisan charcuterie from inspired producers like Fingal Ferguson and Frank Krawczyk from Schull, west Cork and James McGeough from Oughterard, Co. Galway.  The quality is so wonderful that I’m always bursting with pride as I serve it.


A selection of cured meats:

Air dried smoked Connemara lamb

Smoked venison

Prosciutto, Gubeen, Chorizo

Venison Salami

Derreenatra salami

West Cork Kassler

Rillettes, brawn


A selection of Crusty country breads, sour dough, yeast and soda

Tiny gherkins or cornichons

Fresh radishes, just trimmed but with some green leaf attached

A good green salad of garden lettuce and salad leaves


Arrange the meats and potted meat on a large platter, open a good bottle of red and tuck in!
Smoked Mackerel Pâte


4 ozs (110g) undyed smoked mackerel or herring, free of skin and bone

2-3 ozs (55-85g) softened butter

1/4 teaspoon finely snipped fennel

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2-1 clove garlic, crushed to a paste

salt and freshly ground pepper

crusty bread
Slow-Roasted Shoulder of Pork with Fennel Seeds
Serves 8 – 10


Shoulder of pork is best for this long slow cooking method, as the meat is layered with fat which slowly melts away, try to find a traditional breed, e.g. Gloucester Old Spot, Saddleback, Black berkshire or Middle White.  We also slow roast shoulder of lamb which is succulent and juicy.


1 whole shoulder of free-range pork, with skin, about 2.75-3.25 kg (7-8 lb) in weight

8 garlic cloves, peeled

30 g (1 oz) fennel seeds

Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)


Preheat the oven to 230ºC/450ºF/Gas 8.


 Using a small sharp knife, score the rind of the shoulder with deep cuts about 5 mm (1/4’’) wide.


Peel and crush the garlic with the fennel seeds, then mix with salt, pepper and chilli flakes to taste.  Push this mixture into the cuts, over the rind and on the surface of the meat.  Place the shoulder on a rack in a roasting tin and roast for 30 minutes or until the skin begins to blister and brown.  Reduce the oven temperature to 150ºC/325ºF/Gas 3, and leave the meat to roast for 5-6 hours or more until

It is completely soft under the crisp skin.  The meat will give way and will almost fall off the bone.  Serve each person some crisp skin and some chunks of meat cut from different parts of the shoulder.  


Loin and streaky pork is also delicious cooked in this way but it will take a shorter cooking time.




Sprigs of fennel



Whizz all the ingredients in a food processor. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, taste, add more lemon juice and garlic if necessary, it should be well seasoned. Put into little individual pots, or set in a loaf tin lined with cling film.


Alternatively, this pate can be piped in rosettes onto 1/4 inch (5mm) thick slices of cucumber, melba toast, crostini or savoury biscuits. Garnish each one with a sprig of fennel.


Serve with cucumber pickle and crusty bread.


Cooked fresh salmon, smoked salmon, smoked mackerel, trout or herring can be substituted in the above recipe.






Sugar Cones with Strawberry Ice cream


If you are a DIY fiend perhaps you could produce a board with circles cut out to fit the cones with Perspex or light timber.


Serves 6-8


225g (1/2 lb) castor sugar

300ml (1/2 pint) water

900g (2lb) very ripe strawberries

Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 orange

Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon

150ml (5fl oz) whipped cream


6-8 sugar cones or plain ice cream cones


Dissolve the sugar in the water, boil for 7-10 minutes, leave to cool. Puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender, sieve. Add the freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice to the cold syrup. Stir into the puree, fold in the whipped cream. Freeze immediately preferably in a sorbietere.  Store in a covered plastic box in the freezer. Store in a fridge. Scoop the ice cream into balls and fill into the sugar cones – enjoy.


Pink & White Baby Meringues



4 egg whites

9 ozs (130g) icing sugar

Pink, blue, purple organic natural food colouring


Cover four baking trays with a perfectly fitting sheet of silicone paper.


Mix all the icing sugar with the eggs at once in a spotlessly clean bowl and whisk until the mixture forms stiff dry peaks.  This is best done in an electric mixer otherwise you’ll be exhausted.  Divide into separate bowls and add a few drops of the food colouring of your choice to the meringue mixture (careful not to overdo it). Spoon into a clean piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe into rosettes. Bake immediately in a low oven 150°C\300°F\regulo 2 for 30 minutes or until set crisp and just brown on top.



1/2 pint (300ml) whipped cream


Sandwich the meringues together with whipped cream.


Rose Geranium Cupcakes and Crystallized Rose Petals

Makes 12


150g (5ozs) butter (at room temperature)

150g (5ozs) caster sugar

150g (5ozs) self-raising flour

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons milk

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

8 medium sized geranium leaves, chopped

8 medium sized crystallized rose petals


icing sugar

freshly squeezed lemon juice


1 muffin tray lined with 12 muffin cases.


Preheat oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas Mark 5.


Put the chopped rose geranium leaves into a small saucepan with the milk and warm gently, turn off heat and allow to cool.  Put the remaining ingredients except the milk into a food processor, whizz until smooth.  Scrape down sides of food processor, then add the infused milk to the mixture and whizz again.


Divide mixture between the paper cases in muffin tin.


Bake in preheated oven for 15 –20 mins or until risen and golden, then remove from tin and leave to cool on a wire rack


Meanwhile make the icing.  Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl and add the freshly squeezed lemon juice to make thickish icing.  When the cupcakes are cool spread a little icing over the top of each one and decorate with a crystallized rose petal or a rose geranium leaf.


Fool Proof Food
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Basil, Olive Oil and Irish Honey

For the past few years we have growing a large selection of heirloom tomatoes of all shapes and sizes.  Red, yellow, black, striped, round, pear shaped, oval.  They make a divine tomato salad with fresh buffalo mozzarella and lots of fresh basil.  If you cant find heirloom tomatoes, use a selection of ripe red and yellow fruit


Serves 4


8 very ripe heirloom tomatoes

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 dessertspoon pure Irish honey

3 tablespoons Mani extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons fresh basil leaves


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



Kinsale International Gourmet Food Festival

10th – 12th October

For lovers of good food there is never a bad time to visit Kinsale, but this October weekend has to be one of the best times to be there. It’s a packed programme of foodie events all day long, including tastings, dinners, parties and of course music and entertainment.

This year’s Slow food festival market is going to be bigger and better than previous years with over 30 local producers lining the pavements of Patrick’s Street..

For further information on this event please call Rose-Anne Kidney at 021 4270475 or email



Its already time to think about making plum puddings,Christmas cake and mincemeat.  Look out for beautiful plump, dried fruit, muscatel raisins, Lexia sultanas and currants which can be purchased from Farm Gate Midleton, Urrú Bandon, Country Choice Nenagh, Fallon & Byrne Dublin, Gourmet Food Shop Rathgar………



Good Things Café in Durrus, West Cork offer a range of exciting day, weekend and week-long cookery courses. Carmel Summers can cater for your party or function and stock your fridge or freezer so you can take a weekend off.

Fruits of Foraging

Let’s go foraging and then have a dinner party to celebrate.  I pick and gather ‘wild things’ year round but this really is the best season as far as variety is concerned.  On the last spring tide my mother in law, Myrtle Allen, showed us how to gather carrageen moss off the little rocks in Shanagarry Strand.  It is now laid out on the grass to bleach the seaweed in the sun.  Then it will last almost indefinitely and is a tremendous source of iodine and vitamins and other trace elements.
In truth, early Autumn is a bit late to pick carrageen, but watch out for early spring tides next year so there’s lots of time to bleach the seaweed during the summer.
However, the hedgerows, woods and headlands are bursting with bounty at present, blackberries aren’t quite as abundant as last year but there are still lots and lots.  We also gathered some elderberries, damsons and a fine basket of sloes.  The latter grow on blackthorn bushes while damson trees can be 14 or 15ft high.  All these fruit, as well as crab apples, make delicious jams, jellies and boozy liqueurs. 
Watercress is growing in profusion at present as is wild sorrel and fat hen (oracla).
If you have wild roses or a hedgerow near you or rosa rugosa in your garden, you’ll have lots of rose hips, so try making a rose hip syrup to add to a glass of prossecco as an enticing aperitif.  Float a rose petal or two on top if there’s some still around. 
It’s not a brilliant year for wild mushrooms but a recent foray yielded lots of chanterelles, purple amethyst, deceivers, hedgehog mushrooms all distinctly different and delicious.
So next time you are going for a walk bring a basket and keep your eyes peeled for good things to eat, to incorporate into your diet.  Not only are they delicious to eat, they add badly needed vitamins, minerals and trace elements to our diet which are sadly lacking in much of our pre-prepared and processed food.

Her are some suggestions for a dinner party menu to enjoy with family and friends.
Watercress Soup

Serves 6-8

45g (12 ozs) butter
140g (5ozs) peeled and chopped potatoes
110g (4ozs) peeled and chopped onion
salt and freshly ground pepper
600ml (1 pint) water or homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock
600ml (1 pint) creamy milk
225g (8ozs) chopped watercress (remove the coarse stalks first)

Melt the butter in heavy bottomed saucepan, when it foams, add the potatoes and onions and toss them until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the watercress. When the vegetables are almost soft but not coloured add the hot stock and boiling milk.  Bring back to the boil and cook until the potatoes and onions are fully cooked. Add the watercress and boil with the lid off for 4-5 minutes approx. until the watercress is just cooked. Do not overcook or the soup will lose its fresh green colour. Puree the soup in a liquidiser. Taste and correct seasoning.
Pork or Chicken with Wild Mushrooms & Ginger

You can use the formula of this quick and delicious recipe for fillet steak instead of pork or chicken breast, but be careful not to overcook the meat.  Terrific for a dinner party, it can be made ahead and reheated gently before dinner.

Serves 4-6

2 lbs (900g) pork fillet or chicken breast – naturally reared if possible
1-2 tablesp.  extra virgin olive or sunflower oil or a little butter
4 ozs (110g) onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger
¼ pint (150ml) home-made chicken stock
8 ozs (225g) wild mushrooms (chantrelles, hedgehog, deceivers), sliced
½ pint (300ml) light cream
a little roux
freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons parsley, freshly chopped
Orzo or Fluffy Rice

Cut the pork or chicken into slices ⅓ inch (8mm) thick approx.  Pour a little of the oil or butter into a very hot frying pan and sauté the pieces of meat, a few at a time, until brown on both sides but not fully cooked.
Remove to a plate and keep warm.

Add a little more oil or butter and cook the onion and ginger gently until soft and golden.  Deglaze the pan, add the stock and boil to reduce by one-quarter.  Meanwhile sauté the mushrooms in a little oil or butter in another frying pan over a high heat, then add to the pork or chicken.
Add the cream to the onion and stock, then bring back to the boil, thicken slightly with roux, add the meat, mushrooms and parsley to the sauce and all the juices.   Taste, add a little lemon juice and bubble gently for a couple of minutes until the meat is fully cooked.  Taste again and correct seasoning if necessary.
Pour into a hot serving dish and serve with Orzo or a bowl of fluffy rice.

Fool Proof  Food
Damson or Sloe Gin

Its time to make a supply of damson and sloe gin to have ready for Christmas presents.
Damsons are wild plums, sometimes called bullaces, in season in Autumn and less tart than sloes.  Sloes are little tart berries that resemble tiny purple plums, they grow on prickly bushes in hedgerows or on top of stone walls. They are in season from September to the end of October. 

850ml (1½ pints) damsons or sloes
350g (12oz) unrefined white sugar
1.2 litres (2pints) gin

Wash and dry the damsons or sloes.  Prick in several places, we use a clean darning needle.  Put them into a sterilized glass kilner jar, add the sugar and pour in the gin. 
Cover and seal tightly. Shake every couple of days to start with and then every now and again for 2 – 3 months, by which time it will be ready to strain and bottle. 
Damson or sloe gin will improve on keeping so try to resist drinking it for few a few months – should be perfect by Christmas.
Carrigeen moss is a seaweed which can be gathered off the south and west coasts of Ireland. It is one of the most valuable of all our wild foods as it is loaded with vitamins, minerals and trace elements, particularly iodine, and is rich in natural gelatine. It helps our metabolism to work to its optimum and so breaks down fats while giving us lots of strength and energy. It can be used to set liquids or give body to soups, stews and jams. Another ‘cool’ food!
Serves 6

(1/4oz) cleaned, well dried carrigeen moss (1 semi-closed fistful)
850ml (1 1/2pint) whole milk 
1 tablespoon castor sugar
1 egg, preferably free range
1/2teaspoon pure vanilla extract or a vanilla pod

Compote of fruit in season or soft brown sugar and softly whipped cream

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

A delicious Autumn dessert.

Serves 3 approx.

225g (8 ozs) sugar
450ml (16fl ozs) water
4 large dessert apples eg. Worcester Permain or Coxes Orange Pippen
275g (10 ozs) blackberries
8 large rose geranium leaves (Pelagonium Graveolens)

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

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

Serve chilled, with little shortbread biscuits.


For those who are baffled by the maze of regulations the four week course on the Management of Food Hygiene may clarify the subject.
It starts on Monday the 10th November in Jury’s Hotel, Western Road, Cork
The fee of €395 per person includes textbooks, lunch and tea/coffee
Contact Karen Mulvaney to book a place (01) 6779901 or email

If we skip breakfast by mid morning our brain and body will be running low on fuel so we will feel a strong urge to grab a cup of coffee and a sugary snack. This may well kick start the engine but by lunch time we will be ravenous and a bit tetchy and more likely go for a quick fix rather than a healthy wholesome lunch.  Studies show that children who eat breakfast have more energy and can concentrate better at school.  Research also shows that those who eat a nourishing breakfast are more like to maintain a healthy weight.  In a society faced with the urgent problem of childhood obesity and overweight and undernourished adults its time to focus again on breakfast.  Slow Food Limerick and region are doing just that on
Wednesday October 15 at 8pm Garryowen Rugby Club
Anne Fox: 087 216 3706
Ellen O’Mahony: 087 274 4968


Remember Battenburg or Chapel Window cake?  I recently got a pressie of the delicious version made by Catherine Farrell and Annette Burke of the Gourmet Parlor in Sligo town.  Worth a detour not just for a trip down memory lane but for all the delicious home baking.

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.

Future Food

In the words of Lady Eve Balfour “Food is my subject so it concerns everyone”. Even those people who profess to have absolutely no interest in food have to eat.  Food is the fuel that nourishes our bodies, gives us strength and keeps us well. So the quality of the food ought to be of interest to each and everyone of us.  In an ideal world our food should be our medicine, providing the essential minerals and trace elements that our systems need for energy, vitality and the ability to concentrate.

For millions of people food is also their livelihood, over a third of the population are involved in primary or secondary food production, farmers, fishermen, restaurateurs, butchers, and marketers are all a vital part of the food chain.

At this point in history food production is at a cross-roads, the cost of fossil fuels is rising, there are food riots in over 30 countries world wide, the Word Trade Organisation policy has a major impact on how we proceed.

Despite our favourable growing conditions in Ireland, a small island off Europe can’t hope to compete on economies of scale with rising production costs.  The future prosperity of our farmers and food producers lies in producing the finest quality food that can guarantee a premium price.

Food with a story, we need to identify the breed, the feed, the variety, the pasture, the whole provenance.

Irish food will need a USP (Unique Selling Point) to compete. In a country that exports over 80% of its beef we need to ask ourselves, why should a consumer pay more for Irish beef .  The confident answer will need to be ‘because it tastes much, much better’, there will need to be a guaranteed ‘wow factor’ so we can justify a premium price.

I’m convinced we can do it but it may mean evaluating some of our present systems, flavour comes from breed and feed but that’s just part of the picture.  The slaughter process, the method of hanging and ageing are crucial to the quality of the finished product.

It all costs money. I like the system used by Tim Wilson at the Ginger Pig butchers shop in Borough Market and Moxton St in London.  All meat is dry aged and customers can choose whether they would like their rib of beef, for example, hung for 2,3,4 or 5 weeks and pay accordingly.  The customer is being educated to realize that ageing enhances both flavour and texture, but the extra time involved costs the butcher money so they need to pay more. When the end result really delivers flavour Ginger Pig customers are more than happy to pay for the oomph.

Tim Wilson is just one of the many delegates who think outside the box and will be in Waterford contributing to a work shop at Terra Madre on Friday 5th September 2008 in Waterford.

Terra Madre, a ground breaking event, will explore the future of sustainable food production in Ireland.  Terra Madre, hosted by Slow Food Ireland is predicted to be the most important food policy event in Ireland in 2008.   It is a gathering of food producers, together with chefs, scientists, academics, medics, policy-makers, writers, manufacturers, food enthusiasts and the general public from the 32 counties and a variety of world-class keynote speakers.

Slow Food Ireland is part of the Slow Food international movement which was set up in 1989 to help local producers compete with the mass advertising of processed foods by the major multinationals.  It promotes good, clean, fair, food, locally produced where possible.  Terra Madre is an event none of us can afford to miss, we all need to make our voices heard.  Mark September 5th in your diary right away

Meanwhile visit the Terra Madre website and contribute your opinion to the blogs on over 50 food-related topics. 

Hot Tips

Sweet Corn

This is the time of year when Catherine and Vincent O’Donovan set up stall on the side of the main Cork to Innishannon road to sell juicy sweetcorn.   They are open every day and hope to have sweetcorn for the next two months.  Also available in Super-Valu in Bantry, Clonakilty, Carrigaline, Kinsale and Midleton, Superfruit in English Market and some farmers markets around Cork. Freezer orders also taken, contact 087-2486031


Castlefarm Cheese –

Congratulations to Peter and Jenny Young on the launch of the first Kildare Farmhouse Cheese – Castlefarm Cheese is Gouda type cheese – Castlefarm Natural is a plain milky cheese and Castlefarm Shamrock is a nutty flavoured cheese made with Fenugreek, both are covered in a distinctive green wax.  Available at Castlefarm Shop and Jenny’s stall at Athy Farmers Market on Sundays – www.castlefarmshop Tel 059-8636948

Irish Seed Saver Association, Capparoe, Scariff, Co Clare

Forthcoming courses – Making Herbal preparations – Saturday 6th September. Introduction to Beekeeping – Saturday 13 & Sunday 14th September, Commercial Orchards – Wed 17th  September .For More Courses/Workshops 2008 click  Tel 061-921866


2nd Annual Harvest Festival in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim 13 & 14th September 



Pasta with Chanterelles, Tapenade and Flat Parsley

I just got a basket of freshly picked chanterelles – delicious


Serves 4-6

225g (1/2 lb) Penne, Conchiglie or Farfalle

4.5L (8 pints) water

1 tablespoon salt

25g (1oz) butter

225-450g (1/2 -1lb) chanterelles or a mixture of wild mushrooms

Salt and freshly ground pepper

120ml /4fl oz double cream

2-3 tablespoons Tapenade – see recipe

4 tablespoons snipped flat parsley



Bring a large saucepan of water to a fast rolling boil, add salt and pasta.  Stir and cook until al dente.  Meanwhile, gently wash the chanterelles under cold running water.  Trim the base of the stalks and discard.  Slice the mushrooms thickly.


Melt the butter in a frying pan on a high heat.  When it foams add the mushrooms.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Cook on a high heat, the juice will exude at first, but continue to cook until the chanterelles reabsorb the juices.  Add the cream and bubble for a few minutes.  Stir in the Tapenade.  Strain the penne and drain well, put back into the saucepan, add the sauce.  Sprinkle on the flat parsley, toss gently, turn into a hot bowl and serve immediately.



2 ozs (55g) anchovy fillets

3½ ozs (100g) stoned black olives

1 tablespoon capers

1 teaspoon mustard

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Freshly ground pepper

2-3 tablespoons (37ml) olive oil 

Whizz up the anchovy fillets (preferably in a food processor) with the stoned black olives, capers, mustard, lemon juice, and pepper.

Alternatively, use a pestle and mortar. Add the olive oil as you whisk and process to a course or smooth puree as you prefer.

Serve with: Cruditees or Bruschetta or Crostini with Lamb, Pasta..
Shanagarry Beef Stew

A good gutsy stew which can be made in large quantities – it reheats and freezes brilliantly.

Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1.35kg (3 lb) well hung stewing beef or lean flank

2 large carrots cut into 1/2 inch (1cm) slices

285g (10 oz) sliced onions

1 heaped tablespoon flour

150ml (5fl oz) red wine

150ml (5fl oz) brown beef stock

250ml (8fl oz) homemade Tomato Purée, otherwise use best quality tinned tomato -pureed and sieved

175g (6 oz) sliced mushrooms

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

salt and freshly ground pepper

Trim the meat of any excess fat, then prepare the vegetables. Cut the meat into 4cm

(1 1/2 inch) cubes. Heat the olive oil in a casserole; sweat the sliced onions and carrots on a gentle heat with a lid on for 10 minutes. Heat a little more olive oil in a frying pan until almost smoking.  Sear the pieces of meat on all sides, reduce the heat, stir in flour, cook for 1 minutes, mix the wine, stock and tomato puree together and add gradually to the casserole. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and cook gently. Cook gently for 2 1/2-3 hours in a low oven, depending on the cut of meat, 160C/325F/gas mark 3. Meanwhile sauté the mushrooms and add with the parsley to the casserole, 30 minutes approx. before the end of cooking.  Serve with Polenta, mashed potatoes or noodles and a good green salad.

Foolproof Food

Tomato Purée

We make lots of homemade tomato puree at the end of the Summer when the tomatoes are really ripe – it’s brilliant to have in the freezer for tomato soup, stews, casseroles etc.


900g (2 lb) very ripe tomatoes

1 small onion, chopped

1 teaspoon sugar

a good pinch of salt and a few twists of black pepper

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

Note: Tomato Purée is one of the very best ways of preserving the flavour of ripe, summer tomatoes for winter. Use for soups, stews, casseroles etc.


Fresh Sweetcorn with Marjoram

Fresh sweetcorn just quickly cooked and served with butter and sea salt is hard to beat, or try this delicious variation with marjoram.


Serves 6


6 ears of corn, preferable freshly picked!

salt and freshly ground pepper

30-50g (1-2oz) butter

1-2 tablespoons annual marjoram freshly chopped


Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add salt.

Peel the ears of corn, trim both ends, drop into the water.  Cover the saucepan and bring back to the boil, cook for just three minutes.  You can just eat if straight off the cob with butter and sea salt at this stage if you prefer – children love it this way

Drain, allow to cool, then slice the kernels off the cob, melt a little butter in a saucepan, add the corn.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, add the marjoram, stir once or twice.  Taste, correct the seasoning.  Serve immediately.


Apple and Cinnamon Fritters

Serves 6

Apple Fritters have been one of my absolutely favourite puddings since I was a child – nothing changed, I still love them.  Try them with the new season’s Grenadier cooking apples.


4 cooking apples, Bramley Seedling or Grenadier

4 ozs (110g) plain white flour

pinch of salt

1 egg, free range if possible

5fl.oz (150ml) milk

sunflower or peanut oil for frying

8 ozs (225g) castor sugar

1 teasp. cinnamon


Sieve the flour into a bowl, add a pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre, whisk the egg slightly, pour into the centre slowly add the milk whisking in a full circle, gradually bring in the flour from the outside. Continue to whisk until the batter is light and bubbly. Peel and core the apples, cut into ¼ inch (5mm) thick slices. Heat about 1½ inches (4cm) of oil in a frying pan. Dip a few slices of apple into the batter one by one. Fry on both sides until crisp and golden, drain well. Add cinnamon to the castor sugar, toss each fritter in and serve immediately with softly whipped cream.

Banana Fritters

Bananas also make great fritters. Split in half lengthways and then in half again if you would like shorter pieces. Omit the cinnamon from the castor sugar if you want them unadulterated.


Blackberry and Apple Sponge Pudding


The blackberries seem to be late ripening this year due to the lack of sunshine, but feast on them when they do appear in pies, puddings, jam or just as they are.


Serves 4-6


1½lbs (675g) new season’s cooking apples

4-6ozs (110-175g) blackberries

1 tablesp. water

3-4ozs (85-110g) approx. sugar

2 sweet geranium leaves

For the topping:

2ozs (55g) butter

2ozs (55g) sugar

1 beaten egg, preferably free range

3ozs (85g) self raising flour, sieved

1-2 tablesp. milk


1 pie dish 1½ pint (900ml) capacity


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


Peel, core and slice the apples and put them in a heavy saucepan with the water, sugar and sweet geranium leaves. Cover and stew them gently until just half-cooked, then add the blackberries at the last minute.  Allow to cool a little, then tip into a buttered pie dish.


Cream the butter until soft, add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Add the beaten egg by degrees and beat well until completely incorporated. Sieve the flour and fold into the butter and egg mixture.  Add about 1 tablespoon of milk or enough to bring the mixture to dropping consistency.  Spread this mixture gently over the fruit.

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the sponge mixture is firm to the touch in the centre.  Sprinkle with castor sugar.  Serve warm with home made custard or lightly whipped cream

A Florentine Feast of Food .

Florence is hot in the summer, in fact on one day during a recent visit it was the hottest place in the whole of Europe, 39 degrees centigrade.  That sort of temperature renders most of us unable to function. Sight seeing becomes hard labour, even shopping seems too much of an effort.  Nothing for it but to follow the Florentine tradition and indulge in a long lunch followed by a siesta.


Many tourist spots especially places like Florence and Venice which have so many breath-taking artworks and masterpieces of architectural brilliance are sitting on an absolute goldmine, with an estimated 7 million tourists a year it is a sellers market, consequently, restaurant standards are not always what they should be.  If like me, food is an important part of your holiday experience it pays to do a bit of research and I am happy to pass on the results of mine.


Overall, Florentines themselves are still very traditional in their eating habits so the gastronomic scene is dominated by homely osterie and trattorie offering hearty cucina casalinga (home style cooking), prices are reasonable and food authentic.  If you have any interest in food, avoid menu tourismo like the plague and remember Florentines only eat pizza in the evening.  It only tends to be tourist joints that serve them at lunch time, always choose a Pizzeria with a wood-fired oven and ask for a  Florentine pizza with a thin crisp crust as oppose to the puffier Neopolitan style pizza.  Good options are Vico del Carmine, Via Pisana , Santa Lucia or La Poule Alle Mosse.


A full blown Italian meal will start with an Antipasto – a selection of hors d’oeuvre followed by Primo – a pasta, soup or risotto, Seconda is the main course, meat or fish with or without contorno, vegetables, formaggio (cheese) and dolce (dessert) will round off the meal.


Dolce tend to be fairly simple, the ubiquitous tiramisu, a chocolate cake or torta di nona or of course gelata. Ice cream lovers will be in heaven in Florence. There are old favourite haunts to choose from, but there are now some exciting new kids on the block threatening to knock local institutions like Vivoli and Perché No!  off their perch.  You must not miss Grom (via Del Campanile), Vesti, Albizi and Granita.


People watching on warm balmy evenings is of the greatest pleasures of a trip to Tuscany.  Choose one of the many cafes with tables outside to sip an aperitivo, Gilli with its belle époque interior, and Rivoire must not be missed.  Florian of San Marco Square, Venice fame, has just opened in Florence also.


My best new find on this trip was a classy contemporary sandwich bar calle ‘Ino’. Superb quality produce and just around the corner from the must see Uffizi and Palazzo Vecchio. Great place to buy a picnic for the plane if you can’t make it to the San Lorenzo market (open daily).
We also made a pilgrimage to two of my favourite Florentine haunts, Osteria di Benci which does the best Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a pan grilled but still bloody T-bone steak cut from the famous Chianina beef.  Follow it with a Rucola salad dressed with a few drops of local extra virgin olive oi and Tuscan white beans anointed with the same.  There will also be tripe and ribollita.  My second favourite Ils Zibbibo is owned by a woman chef Benedetta Vitali, this simple neighbourhood restaurant with its fresh unfussy food is in Via di Tersollena about 10 minutes from the centre.  Benedetta was co-founder of Cibreo another Florentine institution.  If your budget cannot quite stretch to its steep prices, Ciberino around the corner in Via de Macci also serves great food with many tasty morsels of offal, certainly not for the faint hearted.  There’s lots more, Nerbone in Greve for cows udder and spleen sandwiches and the best pot au feu you’ll find in many a long day. 


For lovers of Tuscan salami famous Falori butchers are just across the Piazza.  I could go on, but you’ll need some time for sight-seeing and sampling the local wines – lots of more information in local guides.  Here are some simple recipes I enjoyed.


Chickpea Purée with Shrimp

From Adventures of an Italian Food Lover by Faith Heller Willinger

Published by Clarkson Potter Publishers, New York


Serves 4


1 cup dried chickpeas

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 garlic clove

1 sprig fresh rosemary

16-20ozs (450g-600g) fresh shrimp, in shells

3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


Put the chickpeas in a large pot, cover with about an inch of water, mix in 3 tablespoons sea salt, and soak for at least 12 hours.

Drain the chickpeas, rinse them, and put them in a 3-quart pot.  Cover with water by about 3 inches, then add the garlic and rosemary.  Over low heat, bring the water to a boil and simmer at least 1 hour, until the chickpeas are tender.  Add ½ cup boiling water if the liquid gets too low.

Purée the chickpeas with your method of choice.  You can rub through a sieve, but the fine disk of a food mill works well, too.  Puréeing with a processor or an immersion mixer grinds up all the skins and produces a less refined soup).  Thin the soup to desired consistency (a little thicker than heavy cream is ideal) with some of the chickpea broth; add boiling water if there’s no enough broth.  Season with salt and pepper , and serve warm.

Remove the shells and black veins from the shrimp.  Put them in a streamer basket over ½ cup of boiling water in a pot, cover, and steam for 2-3 minutes, until they turn pink.

Put one-fourth of the chickpea purée in each soup bowl, top each with 4 or 5 shrimp, then add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. Serve



Ricotta-Stuffed Zucchini Flowers – Faith Heller Willinger


Serves 4-6


1cup ricotta, fresh, if possible, or sheep’s milk ricotta

12-16 fresh zucchini flowers

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Fine sea salt

1 tablespoon minced fresh basil


If your ricotta is watery, drain it in a sieve to remove excess whey. Soak the zucchini flowers in cool water, then spin-dry in a salad spinner. Removing the stamens is unnecessary.

Pack the ricotta into a pastry bag – I use a disposable one and simply cut the tip off the end.  Insert the end of the pastry bag into the zucchini flowers and pipe one or two spoonfuls of ricotta into each.

Drizzle 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a large non-stick skillet.  Place the stuffed flowers in the skillet in a single layer and place pan over the highest heat.  When the pan heats and the oil  begins to sizzle, cover and cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until the flowers are hot, steamed by the moisture of the ricotta.  Transfer to a serving dish and top with pepper and salt, minced basil, and the remaining extra virgin olive oil.



Melon Proscuitto

Serves 4-6


Eat as part of Antipasto


One ripe and juicy melon

Sea Salt

Cracked Pepper


Peel, deseed and slice the ripe melon

Arrange on a plate, Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper.

Delicious, refreshing and so easy.



Smoked Gubbeen Crostata


Faith Willinger made these crostata for us in Florence with smoked mozzarella, but they are also delish with smoked Gubbeen.


Serves 4


Extra virgin olive oil

4ozs (110g) of coarse white bread crumbs

4ozs (110g) grated smoked Gubbeen

1 non stick pan


Optional Extras

Chopped zucchini blossom

Chopped parsley or marjoram

A little chilli pepper


Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and toss in the bread crumbs and cook for 3-4 minutes or until starting to crisp. Grate the cheese into a bowl add the cooled breadcrumbs. This is delicious on its own but, if you want to add extra seasoning this is the moment.

Spread in a thin layer not more than ¾” (2cm) thick on the base of a non stick pan. Cook until pale golden on one side and flip over and continue to cook on the other side.

Cut into small wedges and serve as a nibbles with a drink or with a salad of mixed leaves and summer tomatoes.

Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli

Makes about 36, serve 6 as a starter, 4 as a main course


Ravioli, those tiny stuffed pockets of pasta, may be made ahead and kept covered for up to 3 days in the refrigerator, depending on the filling, or may be frozen.  Make sure you defrost it thoroughly before cooking.


225g (8oz) fresh pasta dough – home made or good quality bought fresh pasta


Spinach and ricotta filling

225g (8oz) fresh spinach, without stems

110g (4oz) fresh ricotta

3 teasp. freshly grated nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


110g (4oz) grated parmesan cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano (for serving)


First make the filling. 

Wash the spinach and cook in a covered saucepan on a low heat until the leaves wilt. Drain the spinach thoroughly and squeeze it dry. Allow it to cool, then chop it and mix with ricotta cheese, freshly grated nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.


Roll out the dough until paper thin and divide in half. Brush one piece of dough lightly with water and put out teaspoons of filling at 4cm (1½inch) intervals. Cover with the remaining sheet of dough, press the top piece down gently to seal each mound of filling, making sure the all the air is released.

Cut into squares with a fluted pastry wheel or stamp out squares with a ravioli cutter. Cook immediately, or if they are not being cooked the same day, transfer to floured greaseproof paper and leave for 5-6 hours to dry, depending on the filling.

Poach the ravioli in a large saucepan of gently boiling salted water for 8-10 minutes, or ‘al dente’ and drain. Serve the grated Parmesan separately.


Tuscan Brownies

We have adapted Faith Willinger’s recipe slightly


Makes 16 squares


110g (4 oz) finest quality (70 percent) bittersweet chocolate

2fl oz (50ml/ â…“ cup) extra virgin olive oil, plus more for preparing the pan

55g (good 2oz) plain flour, plus more for dusting the parchment

⅛  teaspoon of salt

2 eggs, at room temperature

175g (6oz/¾ cup) of castor sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

50g (2oz/½ cup) chopped walnuts (optional)

1 cup unsweetened whipped cream (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC/Gas4.  Line an 8-inch (20.5cm) square baking pan with a lightly oiled and floured piece of parchment paper that’s larger than the pan by 2 inches (5cm).

Melt the chocolate over hot water or in a microwave and whisk in the extra virgin olive oil.  Cool the mixture.

Mix the flour with the salt.  Beat the eggs and sugar until pale and thickened, around 5 minutes.  Add the vanilla and chocolate mixture, and combine well.  Fold in the flour and optional walnuts, then, pour into the prepared pan.

Bake for 22 to 26 minutes.  The top will be dry, though a toothpick inserted in the centre will be wet. Cool completely, then, cut into squares, using a knife with a serrated blade.  Serve with whipped cream.


Hot Tips

Youghal Medieval Weekend Family Festival– this Saturday and Sunday in the grounds of  St Mary’s College Gardens 4-8pm Saturday and 12-6 Sunday

Includes live music, family entertainment and a market – 024-20745

Congratulations to West Cork Producers Gubbeen and Ummera for winning awards in the prestigious Great Taste Awards in London –

Ummera Smoked Products from Timoleague won a much coveted Gold Great Taste Award in London for its Smoked Chicken and Organic Gravdlax.

Gubbeen Farmhouse Products were presented with four awards for their Gubbeen Cheese Oat Cakes, Smoked Streaky Bacon, Wild Venison Ham and their Unsmoked Ham which won a very prized 3 star which is through to the finals for Supreme Champion  Tel 023-46644  Tel 028-28231


2 day Gardening Course with Brian Cross at Ballymaloe House August 31st – September 2nd –  021-4652531

Special packages available


Soil Association Organic Food Festival, Bristol 6-7 September 2008

Pizza Defined

I haven’t counted for quite some time but I would guess that the cookbook library here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School must now contain in excess of 2000 books – mostly cookbooks, but also books on wine and other food related topics.   The library has grown gradually from a base of my own personal collection of nine or ten in 1983, with books on everything from traditional Irish cooking, Mexican, Japanese, Italian, Indian, baking, herbs, fish, meat, entertaining – from basic cooking techniques to weighty tomes on the science of cooking.

Some books sit virtually undisturbed on the shelves from one end of the year to the other, but then there are others that are in constant demand, eg River Café, Nigel Slater, Marcella Hazan, The Book of Ingredients, Harold McGee’s Science of Food – and then there are the books that disappear.   These are cookbooks that touch a chord and appeal so much that the ‘borrower’ can’t bear to return them.   After replacing the book several times we’ve learned over the years to eventually remove these favourites to the safety of my private stock.

I was reminded of this recently when a copy of ‘Pizza Defined’ arrived on my desk.  This little paperback by Bernadette O’Shea was originally published in 1997, when it went out of print I carefully hid my very precious only copy.  It has now been republished by Estragon Press,  there isn’t a better book on Pizza Cookery, or if there is I certainly don’t know of it.

This book, written by the indomitable Bernadette O’Shea, whose restaurant Truffles in Sligo became a magnet for food lovers during the 1990’s.   Bernadette retired from professional cooking after the publication of Pizza Defined and now cooks privately.   Her free-spirit and unique creativity live on in this delicious little book. 

It feels every bit as fresh and exciting today as it did when it was originally published.  The superb photographer Mike O’Toole and design by Nick Cann make ‘Pizza Defined’ a classic.

Basic Pizza Dough Ingredients

350ml (12 fl.oz) of lukewarm water (113F/45C)
20g (¾ oz) fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dried yeast 560g (1lb 2oz) strong white flour ¾ teaspoon salt 2¼ tablespoons olive oil 35g (1¼oz) extra flour for kneadingBernadette gives brilliantly detailed step-by-step instructions over 126 pages which guide even total novices through the process of making the dough and shaping the pizza.   I’ve just given the ingredients here so you’ll need to seek out the book to get the method which is brilliantly explained and not complicated.  When you’ve made the pizza dough the fun continues, there are lots of recipes for sauces and toppings.Pizza Defined by Bernadette O’Shea, published by Estragon Press €20.

Milleens Pizza
This is one step up from a pizza baked blind.  It doesn’t have a sauce, it doesn’t have Mozzarella, it doesn’t have any of the traditional things you associate with a pizza.When Milleens is cooked and melts, it has a buttery, slightly nutty sharp taste and the perfect pairing for that is sun-dried tomatoes, and a glut of soft herbs on top, always soft herbs: yellow marjoram, sweet marjoram, basil and oregano.  These suit the herbaceousness of one the great West Cork cheeses.
140g (5oz) basic pizza doughBasil oil or sun-dried tomato oil
85g (3oz) sundried tomatoes, excess oil squeezed out, shredded into strips85g (3oz) cream cheese85g (3oz) Milleens cheese, very finely slicedFresh herbs (marjoram, oregano, basil, yellow marjoram, lemon thyme etc.)Rosemary oil or sun-dried tomato oil

Place Pizza Tile on floor of the oven and preheat to maximum for one hour.Assembling the pizza –Stretch the dough into a 20cm (8 inch) circleBrush the surface with basil oil, or sun-dried tomato oilScatter the sundried tomatoes on top of the baseDot with cream cheese to prevent from burningCover with Milleens

Bake in the preheated oven for approx. 10 mins.

After cooking brush the outer edge of the pizza with either rosemary oil or olive oil from the sun-dried tomatoes and scatter over a generous amount of the fresh herbs.

CABBAGE PIZZA What do the Irish like? Bacon and cabbage!  What do the Irish eat? Bacon and cabbage! Or so we are told.People do love it, and it was inevitable that I would ask: can I interpret this on a pizza?  The answer was yes.  The genius of this pizza is in the classical combination of a great Parma ham with well-flavoured cabbage.  The funky idea, then, is the use of the pine nuts as both texture and for that nutty flavour which is an echo of the flavour of the cabbage, that hint of nutmeg.  The little drizzle of truffle oil, added right at the end just before serving, is there because of the prosciutto: they are made for each other.140g (5oz) basic pizza dough175g (6oz) cabbage, shredded40g (1½oz) butter3 tablespoons cream¼ teaspoon of nutmeg, grated2 tablespoons basic tomato sauce40g (1½oz) Parmesan, freshly grated

70g (2½oz) Mozzarella, grated

115g (4oz) cream cheese, crumbled

25g (10z) pinenuts

Parma ham

Truffle oil

Place Pizza Tile on floor of the oven and preheat to maximum for one hour.

To prepare cabbage

Cook and drain the cabbage and season with salt and pepper when still hot.  Add the butter, cream and nutmeg and toss to combine.Assembling the pizza Stretch the dough into a 20cm (8”) circle.  Spread the tomato sauce over the pizza 10mm (½”) in from the rim.  Sprinkle with Mozzarella, then the cabbage and dot with the cream cheese, sprinkle over Parmesan and finally the pinenuts.  Bake in the preheated oven for approx. 10 mins.  Remove from the oven and drape with thin slices of Parma and drizzle with truffle oil.


Tapenade & Grilled Red Peppers140g (5oz) basic pizza dough85g (3oz) Mozzarella, grated 2 tablespoons, black olive tapenade (see below)2 red peppers, grilled 25g (1oz) Parmesan, freshly gratedBasil oil or olive oilPlace Pizza Tile on the floor of the oven and preheat to maximum for one hour.

Assembling The Calzone

Stretch the dough into a 20cm (8”) circle. Place the filling over one half of the circle, making sure to leave a clean 10mm (½”) rim and then layer one ingredient on top of another. Begin with a layer of Mozzarella.  Cover with the tapenade, red peppers and Parmesan.  Fold the other half of the dough over the mixture and press the edges together.  Bake for approx. 20 mins in the hottest oven.  Check after 10 mins, and cover with tin foil if it browns too quickly.  Remove from the oven when cooked and brush with basil or olive oil.  Serve with pesto, or with the basic tomato sauce.


 175g (9oz, 1 cup) black olives, pitted2 tablespoons capers 2 cloves garlic, minced3 tablespoons olive oil3 tablespoons lemon juice2 anchovies

Pound all the ingredients together using a pestle and mortar until u reach the desired texture, which can be chunky of smooth.


This Provencal pizza uses both tomato sauce and Mozzarella, for those who like to always use them on a pizza.140g (5oz) basic pizza dough175g (6oz) onion confit – see recipe 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced10 olives1 clove garlic, very finely chopped2 tablespoons basic tomato sauce85g (3oz) fresh Mozzarella (optional)

140g (5oz) goat’s cheese

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

Place pizza tile on the floor of the oven and preheat to maximum for one hour.Assembling the pizza  Stretch the dough into a 20cm (8”) circle.  Spread tomato sauce over the pizza 10mm (½”) in from the rim and top with the Mozzarella.  Place the tomato slices at the outer edge of the pizza, making sure not to overlap.  Pile the confit in the centre of the pizza.  Crumble the goat’s cheese around. Arrange the olives on top and sprinkle with the thyme and chopped garlic.  Bake in a preheated oven for approx. 10 mins.

Onion Confit:
85g (3oz) butter
3 onions, peeled and thinly sliced1 large teaspoon sugar225ml (8 fl.oz) red wine50ml (2 fl.oz) sherry vinegar1 tablesp Cassis

50ml (2 fl.oz) vegetable stock (optional)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fresh thyme leaves

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a moderate heat.Add the onions, cover and cook for 10 minutes.Halfway through add the sugar, salt and pepper.Add the fresh thyme, wine, sherry vinegar and Cassis.  Give the pot a good stir and continue to cook for about 1 hour uncovered, over a low heat.


This pizza was my response to the clutch of new recipes which were part of the nouvelle cuisine in Ireland, when age-old ingredients such as black pudding were “outed”, it was one of those outed ingredients.  I remember as a child my mother making black pudding and my father frying either onions or leeks which we always ate with the pudding.  I love the look of the pizza.  I use Clonakilty black pudding and there’s nothing to beat it with beautiful, small young leeks, drizzled with a good strong rosemary oil.  I use Mascarpone because it doesn’t interfere with the flavour, shape or style of the other ingredients.140g (5oz) basic pizza dough115g (4oz) leeks, sliced Olive oilSalt and pepper2 tablespoons mascarpone 140g (5oz) black pudding, sliced25g (1oz) pine nuts

Rosemary oil

Place pizza tile on floor of oven.  Protect the base of your oven with cooking foil (if this pizza leaks it burns, prepare yourself for smoke!) Preheat the oven to its maximum temperature.

To cook the leeks  Saute the sliced leeks in a little olive oil until tender.  Alternatively toss in a little olive oil, place on a baking tray and cook in a hot oven. When cooked, season with salt and pepper, and allow to cool.

Assembling the pizza  Stretch the dough into a 20cm (8”) circle.  Gently spread on the mascarpone with your fingers, making sure to leave a 1cm (½”) rim all around.  Pile the leeks in the centre.  Circle the pizza with the black pudding slices and scatter the pine nuts in between the black pudding and the leek.  Bake in a preheated oven for approx. 10 mins.  Drizzle with rosemary oil and serve

Pizza Margherita
There is a restaurant in Naples called Da Michele, one of the oldest pizza houses, where they only bake two types of pizza.  Neapolitan and Pizza Margherita, and they are jam packed, making pizzas non-stop, all day long.   Fabulous, beautiful flavours.  I have never had a Margherita or a Neapolitan anywhere in the world which tastes anything like it.  It is distinctly, completely, a Neapolitan activity.  We can only try to emulate it, we can never do more than that.
140 g (5oz) basic pizza dough3 tablespoons basic tomato sauce 55g (2oz) fresh, hand-rolled Mozzarella torn into pieces or diced 15g (½oz) Parmesan, freshly grated1 clove garlic, very finely sliced
Basil oil
8 fresh basil leaves

Salt to taste

Place the pizza tile on the floor of the oven and preheat to maximum for one hour.Stretch the dough into a 20cm (8 inch) circleSpread the tomato sauce over the pizza, 10mm (½ inch) in from the rim.Scatter the Mozzarella slices on top of the sauce.Sprinkle on the Parmesan and garlic and drizzle with the basil oil.Bake in the preheated oven for approx. 10 mins.Serve garnished with the basil leaves.SEAFOOD PIZZA Bernadette liked to gather cockles and mussels herself, and added clams when she could get them.  She created the fennel sauce because shellfish love the flavour of aniseed

INGREDIENTS140g (5oz) basic pizza dough 85g (3oz) cockle meat85g (3oz) mussels55g (2oz) clams4 oysters2 tablespoons tomato & fennel sauce

1 tablespoon, parsley, chopped

1 clove garlic, very finely chopped

METHOD Place pizza tile on the floor of the oven and preheat to maximum for one hour.

Preparing the shellfish Steam open the cockles, mussels and clams.  Remove from their shells and toss in the parsley and garlic.  Carefully open the oysters, removing any shell.  Place in a bowl and reserve.Assembling the pizza Stretch the dough into a 20cm (8”) circle.  Spread the tomato and fennel sauce over 10mm (½”) in from the rim and place in the preheated oven for 5 mins.  Take out and top with the mussels, clams and cockles.  Continue to cook for a further 3-4mins.  Place oysters on top and serve immediately.

NOTE: The measurements given are for shellfish meat, not including shells.

Hot Tips

Clandeboye Yoghurt
This is the most exciting new food product I’ve come across in ages – delicious Greek style yoghurt made on the Clandeboye Estate in Bangor, Co Down, from a blend of Holstein and Jersey Milk from their own herd which provides a creamy texture without high fat content.   Made by hand in their artisan dairy, the milk is prepared and cultured very gently over a twenty hour period in small batches.  This helps to create the exceptional flavour and texture.    Available in Northern Ireland and Sheridans Cheesemongers in Dublin.

Gwen’s Chocolates new shop
Schull based chocolatier Gwen Lasserre has opened a new shop at 46 Main Street, Kinsale – in the centre of the old town – also a small café section serving French specialities like Croque Monsieur and Tarte aux Framboises.   Tel 087-0520796

Easy Entertaining with Rachel Allen – 15th September -due to popular demand
1 day demonstration course – two delicious 5 course menus for
Entertaining -  plus breads, petits fours, aperitifs … now booking.  Tel 021-4646785 gift vouchers available. 
National Organic Week 15-21 September for details of events
 Good Things Café, Durrus, Co Cork
Open for the season – delicious menu of local foods –
Tel 027-61426





Sweet Berry Bliss


Such a joy to have been able to feast on berries in season for the past few weeks.  If you were fortunate enough to have managed to source fruit from small producers who are growing varieties for flavour you will have had a real taste of summer.  Sadly, most commercial strawberry growers have gone over to El Santa a variety I now assiduously avoid, more often than not it disappoints particularly when heavily irrigated. I long for some growers to have the courage to grow at least a percentage of old varieties like Cambridge Favourite or Cambridge Vigour or Sovereign.
I know they are more difficult to handle, but there is a growing number of disillusioned consumers who would be prepared to pay more for a guaranteed burst of flavour.
One can of course get strawberries, raspberries and indeed red currants year round but gooseberries and blackcurrants are definitely a short seasonal treat. I adore blackcurrants and we eat them in many, many guises during the few productive weeks.  It is really worth making a few pots of jam to lather on scones or to make blackcurrant drinks to protect against colds in the winter.  Home made “Ribena” type drink is also fun and worthwhile to make as cassis.  Almost my favourite way to eat the fruit is stewed blackcurrants and cream. The fruit must be warm and the pouring cream very cold sooo divine and sooo simple.
A pear and blackcurrant compote is also very good and a blackcurrant and apple sponge pudding tends to get polished off in double quick time.
Blackcurrant Fool is may favourite fool of all and the leftovers make a delicious frozen parfait which is even better if served with blackcurrant coulis. A squeeze bottle of that is a terrific standby to have inside your fridge door to serve over vanilla ice-cream or to drizzle over a meringue roulade. 
Make haste the season is almost over so enjoy the blackcurrant harvest while you can.
Blackcurrant Coulis
8 ozs (225g) blackcurrants
1 cup syrup, 4-5 fl ozs (120-150ml) water* see below
Pour the syrup over the blackcurrants and bring to the boil, cook for 3-5 minutes until the blackcurrants burst.  Liquidise and sieve through a nylon sieve.  * Allow to cool.  Add 4-5 fl ozs (120-150ml) water.
Stock Syrup

1 lb (450g) sugar
1 pint (600ml) water
Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to the boil.  Boil for 2 minutes then allow it to cool.  Store in the fridge until needed.
Poached Blackcurrants with Icy Cold Cream
12oz ( 340g) blackcurrants, strings removed

Stock Syrup (see recipe)

Icy cold cream

Cover the blackcurrants with stock syrup.  Bring to the boil and cook until the fruit bursts – this will take about 4 to 5 minutes.  Serve with warm shortbread biscuits and icy cold cream.

Blackcurrant Fool
Serves 6 approx.

350g (12oz) fresh blackcurrants, frozen blackcurrants may be used

Stock syrup (see recipe)

Whipped cream

Cover the blackcurrants with stock syrup. Bring to the boil and cook until the fruit bursts about 4-5 minutes. Liquidize and sieve or puree the fruit and syrup and measure. When the puree has cooled, add up to equal quantity of softly whipped cream, according to taste. Serve with Jane’s biscuits.

Note: A little stiffly beaten egg white may be added to lighten the fool. The fool should not be very stiff, more like the texture of softly whipped cream. If it is too stiff stir in a little milk rather than more cream.

Alternative presentation, chose tall sundae glasses.  Put 2 fl ozs (50ml) of blackcurrant puree into the base of the glass, top with a layer of softly whipped cream, another layer of blackcurrant puree and finally a little more cream.  Drizzle a little thin puree over the top, serve chilled with shortbread biscuits.

Blackcurrant Ice Cream

Left over blackcurrant fool may be frozen – it makes a delicious ice cream.  Serve with blackcurrant coulis made by thinning the blackcurrant puree with a little more water or stock syrup.

Frosted Blackcurrant Parfait with Blackcurrant Coulis
Serves 10 approx

Pour the blackcurrant fool into a loaf tin lined with pure cling film.  Cover and freeze.  Serve cut in slices with blackcurrant coulis drizzled over the top.

Blackcurrant Jam

Makes 8-9 lbs (3.4-4 kilo) jam

4 lbs (1.8 kgs) fresh or frozen blackcurrants

2 pints (1.1 litres) water

5 lbs (2.3 kgs) white granulated sugar

Remove the stalks from the blackcurrants, put the fruit into a greased preserving pan, add the water and cook until the fruit begins to break. Put the sugar into a stainless steel bowl and heat for almost 10 minutes in a preheated oven at 150C/300F/regulo 2. (It’s vital that the fruit is soft before the sugar is added otherwise the blackcurrants will taste hard and tough in the finished jam). Add the heated sugar and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Boil briskly for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently.  Skim, test and pot. 

Serves 4-6

1½lbs (675g) cooking apples

4-6ozs (110-175g) blackcurrants, already strung

1 tablesp. water

3-4ozs (85-110g) approx. sugar

For the topping
2ozs (55g) butter

2ozs (55g) sugar

1 beaten egg, preferably free range

3ozs (85g) self raising flour, sieved

1-2 tablesp. milk

1 pie dish 1½ pint (900ml) capacity

Set the oven to 200C/400F/regulo 6.

Peel, core and slice the apples and put them in a heavy saucepan with the water, blackcurrants and sugar, cover.  Stew them gently until just soft, then tip into a buttered pie dish.

Cream the butter until soft, add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Add the beaten egg by degrees and beat well until completely incorporated. Sieve the flour and fold into the butter and egg mixture.  Add about 1 tablespoon of milk or enough to bring the mixture to dropping consistency.  Spread this mixture gently over the apple.

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the sponge mixture is firm to the touch in the centre.  Sprinkle with castor sugar.  Serve warm with home made custard or lightly whipped cream

Serves 6

6 pears, Conference, Doyenne de Comice or William

6-8ozs (175-225g) blackcurrants

4 ozs (110g) castor sugar

10 fl ozs (300ml) cold water

Put the sugar and water into a saucepan or casserole and bring slowly to the boil.  Peel, halve and core the pears being careful to keep a good shape.  Add to the syrup.  Place a greaseproof paper lid on top of the pears and then a tight fitting lid on the casserole.  Place the casserole on a medium heat.  Cook for 15-20 minutes, adding the blackcurrants after 10 minutes.  Continue to cook until pears are tender. Serve chilled in the syrup.

Cassis Recipe
Skye Gyngell from Petersham Nurseries Café made this delicious drink when she was here with us last year as our guest chef.
650g (1 ¼lb) blackcurrants

650g (1 ¼lb) caster sugar

750ml (1 ¼ pints) (1 bottle red wine)

500ml (18fl ozs) good brandy  (Skye uses Julian Temperley’s Somerset Cider Brandy available at different ages: 5, 7 & 10 years)
Place blackcurrants in a large, heavy based pan. Add the sugar, wine and brandy, stir and bring to the boil. Continue to stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Use a sieve to strain. Store in a glass jar or bottle.

Home made Ribena
This concentrated blackcurrant cordial packed with vitamin C is delicious diluted with sparkling or plain water or sparkling wine – it keeps for several months in a cool place.
1.12kg (2½ lb) blackcurrants
2.6kg (5½ lb) sugar
4L (scant 7 pint) water
225ml (8fl oz) white wine vinegar
Boil the blackcurrants and water together in a stainless steel saucepan for 15 minutes. Strain and add the sugar to the liquid. Add the white vinegar. Boil for 3 minutes. Pour into sterilized bottles and seal well.

Jane’s Biscuits – Shortbread
Makes 25

170g (6oz) white flour

110g (4oz) butter

55g (2oz) castor sugar

Put the flour and sugar into a bowl, rub in the butter as for shortcrust pastry. Gather the mixture together and knead lightly. Roll out to 7mm (¼ inch)  thick.  Cut into rounds with a 6cm (2½ inch) cutter or into heart shapes.  Bake in a moderate oven 180C/350F/gas mark 4 to pale brown, 10 – 15 minutes. Remove and cool on a rack.

Serve with fruit fools, compotes and ice creams.


Ovencraftsman Hendrick Lepel presents BUILD YOUR OWN BREADOVEN.

A 2 day workshop in Breadoven Building near Kealkil (Westcork).

During the 2 day workshop you will be learning to build and Outdoor Oven.  This unique event, held during the weekend of the 23rd and 24th of August, priced at 120Eur/Person including lunch for the 2 days, is limited to only 8 participants!
For booking & further details contact
Ovencraftsman Hendrik on 086 8838400 or email to
Gwen’s Chocolates new shop
Schull based chocolatier Gwen Lasserre has opened a new shop at 46 Main Street, Kinsale – in the centre of the old town – also a small café section serving French specialities like Croque Monsieur and Tarte aux Framboises.   Tel 087-0520796

Easy Entertaining with Rachel Allen – 15th September -due to popular demand
1 day demonstration course – two delicious 5 course menus for

Entertaining -  plus breads, petits fours, aperitifs … now booking.  Tel 021-4646785 gift vouchers available. 

National Organic Week 15-21 September  to order point of sale material to highlight any events being organized for National Organic week.

Good Things Café, Durrus, Co Cork
Now open for the season – delicious menu of local foods –

Tel 027-61426


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