ArchiveMay 2009

Seriously Good Gluten Free Cooking

Coeliac disease is triggered by eating gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, oats and rye. The only way to treat it is to totally embrace a gluten free diet and embrace is scarcely the word – when the diagnosis is confirmed – ones heart sinks at the prospect of life without the yummy foods that we look forward to. Certainly one’s diet has to change but there is no reason to despair. Once the basic elements are understood it’s a question of investing in a new store cupboard of basic ingredients and some reliable recipes and then it should be perfectly possible to reproduce many favourite breads, cakes and puddings. It’ll take a little practice because many of the ingredients feel and react differently but it’s definitely worth the effort. Coeliacs and those with a wheat intolerance need to familiarise themselves with the disease and the sources and foods that contain gluten. A lot of foods and drinks may contain gluten without you even realising it. Some are obvious breads, pasta, flours, cereals and others like fish fingers, sausages, gravies, sauces, soy sauce, some types of mustard powder are not so obvious. These can change daily as food manufacturers alter ingredients, sometimes without notice. The Coeliac Society of Ireland and the British Nutrition Foundation monitor the situation on an on-going basis and are an essential resource and support group for coeliacs.

Several good gluten-free cookbooks have been have been written the most recent by well known Phil Vickery. In response to many requests Phil launched a range of Christmas and Winter puddings in 2006. The response was overwhelming (he has sold 10,000 to date) so he continued to experiment and his latest book ‘Seriously Good Gluten Free Cooking’ published by Kyle Cathie is the result. The book includes over 120 flavoursome dishes making the most of fresh wholesome ingredients – all completely safe for people with coeliac disease to eat. From breakfast to snacks, outdoor eating to desserts, here are dishes that many people would never have dreamed they could eat again, including the notoriously difficult area of home-made breads, scones and cakes.

Recognising that many chefs didn’t even know how to spell coeliac (pronounced ‘see-li-ac”) least of all what it was, Phil wanted to write an accessible and inventive cook book to show that gluten-free cooking could be just like and other food and to help people make the most of the special food ranges now available. With extra information on the hidden gluten in store-cupboard essentials, what results is a book that will not only revolutionise the diet of thousands of people with Coeliac disease but will be an essential and trustworthy book for anyone wanting to cut down on their wheat intake.

‘Healthy Gluten Free Eating” that I co-wrote with Rosemary Kearney in 2004 is still available at all good book shops. This book has over 100 really, really delicious recipes and key nutritional and lifestyle recommendations, cooking and shopping tips.

I chose a few recipes from Phil Vickery’s ‘Seriously Good Gluten Free Cooking’ book for you to enjoy.

Salt and Pepper Eggs on Rice Waffles

For the Waffles

Oil, for greasing

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

250ml milk

250g brown rice flour

Pinch of salt

½ teaspoon gluten-free baking powder

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

For the Eggs

4 rashers streaky bacon, sliced into strips

1 teaspoon vinegar

4 large, very fresh eggs

Cracked black pepper

Sea salt

Handful of fresh basil leaves, shredded

Oil and preheat the waffle maker. Using an electric whisk, blend the eggs, vegetable oil and milk together

Combine the rice flour, salt baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl. Gradually wish the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until you have a smooth, thickish batter.

Pour one quarter of the batter into the base of the hot waffle iron and cook for about 3 minutes, depending on your waffle iron. When the waffles are done, place them in a warm oven, until you are ready to eat. Repeat with all the remaining mixture.

If you don’t have a waffle iron, use the batter to make four pancakes. Preheat a little oil in a large frying pan and spoon the batter into the pan to make four even-sized pancakes. Cook on one side until golden brown and then flip the pancakes to cook the other side.

Fry the bacon strips in a non-stick pan, until crispy. Next poach the eggs: add the vinegar to a pan of simmering water and carefully crack in the eggs. Poach for about 2 minutes; the yolks should still be soft.

Scoop the eggs out with a slotted spoon, and pop each one on top of a warm waffle. Season with cracked black pepper, a touch of salt on the egg (but not too much the bacon is salty too!) and scatter over the crispy bacon and the basil.

Breakfast Fruit Seed Bars

100g sunflower seeds

100g sesame seeds

100g pumpkin seeds

100g semi dried cranberries

100g semi dried blueberries

100g gluten free porridge oats

2 tablespoons soft brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 x 397g tin condensed milk

150g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4

Line a 24cm square baking tin with baking parchment

Place the seeds, fruit, oats, sugar and spices in a large bowl and mix well

Put the condensed milk and butter into a bowl and place over a pan of gently simmering water. Melt together until well blended and hot. This will take about 15 minutes

Stir the butter into the fruit and seeds and mix really well

Spoon the mixture into the tin and pack down lightly with the back of the spoon

Bake for about 20 minutes, until slightly golden. Remove from the oven, cool and cut into bars.

Chestnut and Roasted Onion Bread

5 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, finely chopped

3 teaspoons sugar

1 x 7g sachet dried yeast

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

400ml warm water

300g chestnut flour

100g potato flour

½ teaspoon gluten-free baking powder

1 medium egg lightly beaten

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Oil for greasing

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4

Oil a 900g loaf tin

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a frying pan, then add the onions and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Cook down, stirring occasionally until lightly golden. This will take a few minutes. Once cooked set aside to cool.

Add the yeast, xanthan gum and the remaining olive oil to the warm water and stir until dissolved. Combine the flours, remaining sugar, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper in a large bowl and mix well. Add the egg and stir. Next, add the liquid yeast mixture to the bowl and mix well.

Pour into the prepared tin and cook for 30 minutes, or until well risen and lightly browned. Remove and cool slightly, turn out and slice when ready.

Chickpea, Cherry Tomato and Rice Noodle Soup

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon finely chopped red chilli

1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger

1 small red pepper, finely chopped

½ small leek, finely chopped

100g button mushrooms, very finely slice

Juice of 2 large limes

750ml boiling water

1 x 10g gluten free vegetable stock cube

50g rice noodles

100ml coconut milk

150g canned chickpeas, well rinsed

12 cherry tomatoes, quartered

4 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander

50g iceberg lettuce, finely shredded

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the garlic, chilli, ginger, pepper, leek, mushrooms, lime juice, water and crumbled stock cube in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place the rice noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 10 minutes to soften, and then drain well.

Add the coconut milk to the mushroom stock, bring back to the boil and season to taste. Add the chickpeas and warm through.

Evenly divide the cooked noodles, cherry tomatoes, coriander and lettuce between 4 bowls. Then ladle in the hot soup and serve.

Gluten Free Pizza Base

1 teaspoon sugar

300 ml lukewarm water

2 x 7g sachets dried yeast

300g gluten-free flour

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 level teaspoon gluten free baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

Topping ingredients of your choice!

Dissolve the sugar in half the warm water, stir in the yeast, mix well and set aside for 5 minutes for the yeast to start work and froth.

Place the remaining dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, add the yeast mixture and oil and mix well, adding the remaining water a little at a time. Mix through until you have smooth, fairly wet dough.

Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6

Divide the dough in to two balls. Transfer one dough ball onto a sheet of baking parchment. Cover with a second sheet of parchment on top and flatten the dough out between the papers, to form a 20cm. repeat to make another base.

Transfer the bases onto baking trays. Bake the pizza for 8 – 10 minutes and then remove to add the toppings of your choice.

Return the pizzas to the oven, with the toppings and bake for a further 15-20 minutes until bubbling and golden. Serve hot, straight away.

Gluten-Free Pastry

225g gluten-free flour mix

100g butter or margarine, chilled and cut into small cubes

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Pinch of salt

1 medium egg

Oil or butter for greasing

Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5. Grease a 23cm round tin. Put all the ingredients, except the egg, into a food processor and mix until you have fine bread crumbs. Add the egg and pulse until the mixture comes together. You may have to add a few drops of cold water. Tip out onto a work surface and knead into a smooth, soft dough.

Shape the dough into a squat sausage, cut out circles and use to press into the base and sides of the tin – use a little rice flour on your hands to stop it from sticking. Line the pastry case with baking parchment and baking beans. Bake for 15 minutes.

Plain Scones

300g gluten free flour mix (see Fool Proof Food)4 teaspoons gluten free baking powder

1 tablespoon caster sugar

2 teaspoons xanthan gum

100 g unsalted butter

2 medium eggs

125ml milk


Butter for greasing

Flour for rolling out

1 beaten egg for glazing

Strawberry jam and clotted cream to serve

Preheat the oven to 220c/Gas 7

Lightly grease a baking tray

Sift all the dry ingredients and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Lightly rub the butter into the flour mix. Make a well in the centre of the mixture.

Beat the eggs and milk together and add to the well in the flour and butter. Mix to a soft dough.

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface; press out with the palm of your hand, to about 2cm thick, and then cut out 12 rounds using a 6cm cutter. Gently place on the baking tray and brush with a little beaten egg.

Bake until well risen and golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire cooling rack. Eat the scones nice and fresh, sliced and spread with jam and cream.

Fudgy Almond Cake with Mint Syrup and Frosting

200g unsalted butter

200g gluten-free dark chocolate broken into pieces

5 medium eggs, at room temperature, separated

Pinch of cream of tartar

240g caster sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

200g ground almonds

50g chickpea flour

For the syrup

100g caster sugar

4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

For the frosting

500g mascarpone

50g honeycomb, chopped

100g clear honey

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Line a 24cm round, 7cm deep, loose bottomed cake tin with baking parchment.

Place the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt over a pan of simmering water. Once melted, take the pan off the heat but leave the bowl over the pan to keep the mixture warm.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a bowl and whisk until thick and foamy. Then add half the sugar, and whisk again until creamy and thick

Add the rest of the sugar and whisk until very stiff, but still a creamy consistency. Stir the egg yolks, vanilla extract, almonds and chickpea flour into the warm chocolate and butter, and then straight away add half the meringue, mixing well.

Finally, add the rest of the meringue and fold in.

Spoon into the lined tin and bake for 45 – 50 minutes, or until well risen and firm. Remove from the oven and cool slightly in the tin; it will collapse a little. Make several holes over the surface of the cake with a skewer.

Meanwhile, place the sugar, 100ml water and the mint in a small pan and boil until the sugar has dissolved, then spoon the syrup over the cake and leave to soak in, cool completely.

Fool Proof Food

Gluten-Free Flour Mix

300g fine cornmeal (maize) or chestnut flour

500g brown rice flour

200g cornflour

Mix all the flours together very thoroughly or put into a food processor and pulse until mixed. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Thrifty Tip

Place used milk cartons around the base of young trees and shrubs to protect the bark from the mower, strimmer or hungry hares.


Taste of Dublin 2009

Ireland’s largest food festival – Taste of Dublin – is back for four days of sizzling chef demos, over 100 artisan producers displaying their products and live entertainment. Darina and Rachel Allen are part of the celebrity chef line-up which includes Neven Maguire, Clodagh McKenna and Anthony Worrall Thompson. Pick up tips from each of their unique live cookery demonstrations from 11th – 14th June at the Ineagh Gardens, Dublin 2. or telephone (01) 210 9290

Clandeboye Estate Yoghurt

On a recent trip to Belfast I got to taste Clandeboye Yoghurt again, made from the rich milk of pedigree Holstein and Jersey cows. All the yoghurt is made by hand in their small artisan dairy with no added milk powder, cream or thickening agents and has a wonderful natural flavour that earned them a Gold Award 2008 Great Taste Awards and Best New Product 2007 Northern Ireland Food and Drink Awards. Visit

Fund Raising Day at Ballymaloe Cookery School Gardens.

Today all proceeds from ticket sales (€6 for adults, €3 for children) into Ballymaloe Cookery School Gardens will be donated to St John the Baptist Primary School in Midleton, Co Cork, to raise funds for their sports hall.

Chinatown Comes to Cork

The CX Oriental Cash and Carry (opposite Colaiste Stiofain Naofa) stocks just about everything you need for Chinese cookery; including fresh Asian greens, galandal, Chinese sausages, green papayas, won ton wrappers, steamers and woks…telephone (021) 4320860

Armagh Apple Blossom Festival 2009

Armagh Apple Blossom Festival – Bramley Seedling 200th Anniversary

Happy birthday Bramley Seedling. This year all of us cooks and chefs celebrate the bicentennial of our favourite cooking apple. Bet you didn’t know that it is two hundred years since, as a young girl Mary Anne Brailsford, planted an apple pip in the family’s Nottinghamshire garden. One of those pips emerged as a vigorous seedling around 1809.

A local butcher Matthew Bramley later bought the cottage and garden. His apple tarts must have caused a stir because local nurseryman Henry Merryweather came looking for a cutting from the tree. Matthew agreed, on condition that the slow growing apple would bear his name – hence the name Bramley Seedling – beloved of home cooks and chefs alike. Recently I travelled all the way to Ulster to celebrate with the Bramley Apple Growers who came together to put on a big celebratory bash during apple blossom season, you can’t imagine how lovely it was to drive through the Armagh country side when the orchards were in full bloom covered with pink and white blossom. There were beautiful old trees with gnarled branches, carefully pruned to allow light into the centre, still producing apples after 40 years, but also newly planted orchards to meet the upcoming demands.

Apples have been cultivated in Armagh for more than 3000 years, so the Bramley is just a blow in, in comparison to some of the others. Many of the orchardists are third or fourth generation growers. So the knowledge and growing skills have been passed from generation to generation. In recent years with help and guidance from Loughgall Research Station, apple growers have tweaked the Bramley to ensure that it keeps its shape during cooking for the bakery trade. I was nostalgic for the old Bramley which dissolved into a fluff when stewed or oozed out of its skin when it was roasted or baked. For those of you who are lucky enough to still have these old trees in your garden, prune them carefully and so preserve them well for posterity. Meanwhile one can buy the Armagh Bramley virtually year round, thanks to the efforts of the Armagh Bramley growers who store them carefully and sell them proudly through the length and breadth of Ireland. The growers have helped to highlight the need to protect apple orchards which can only be done by educating young people. Pamela Black and I did several cookery demonstrations with Bramley Seedlings in every recipe. The weather was mostly horrendous yet people poured in to support the Apple Blossom Festival. Nearly 7000 people attended the event which had attractions for growers, suppliers, retailers and there was a strong presence of Armagh Beekeepers Association to highlight the bee crisis. Bees are dying all over the world; some of the causes that have been cited are pesticides particularly those containing the active ingredient Imidacloprid, broadband (the signals are thought to disorientate bees) and GM (Genetically Modified) plants. The jury is still out.

Here are some simple and delicious recipes using Bramley Seedling apples.

Roast Rack of Spring Lamb with Fresh Mint Chutney

Serves 4-6

Many butchers will prepare a rack of lamb for you.

In Season

2 racks of Spring lamb (6 cutlets each)

salt and freshly ground pepper


fresh mint chutney


sprigs of fresh mint

Score the fat. Refrigerate until needed.

Preheat the oven to 220°C\425°F\gas mark 7.

Sprinkle the racks of lamb with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast fat side upwards for 25-30 minutes depending on the age of lamb and degree of doneness required. When cooked, remove lamb to a warm serving dish. Turn off the oven and allow the lamb to rest for 5-10 minutes before carving to allow the juices to re distribute evenly through the meat.

Carve the lamb and serve 2-3 cutlets per person depending on size. Serve with fresh mint chutney.

Fresh Mint Chutney (see Fool Proof Food)

Bramley Apple and Sweet Geranium Jelly

Makes 6-7 pots

6 lbs (2.7kg) crab apples or Bramley Seedlings

4 1/3 pints (2.7l) water

6-8 large sweet geranium leaves (Pelargonium Graveolens)

2 lemons, unwaxed organic


Wash the apples and cut into quarters, no need to peel or core. Windfalls may be used, but make sure to cut out the bruised parts. Put the apples in a large saucepan with the geranium leaves, the water and the thinly pared rind of the lemons, cook until reduced to a pulp, approx 30 minutes.

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; allow 1 lb (450g) sugar to each pint (600ml/21/2 cups) of juice. Warm the sugar in a moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4 for about 10 minutes.

Squeeze the lemons, strain the juice and add to the preserving pan, add a few more geranium leaves if the flavour is still very mild. Bring to the boil and add the sugar. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat and boil rapidly without stirring for about 8-10 minutes. Remove the geranium leaves. Skim, test and then pour the jelly into sterilized jars, put a sweet geranium leaf in each jar. Cover and seal immediately.

Bramley Apple Tart

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.

Serves 8-12


8 ozs (225g) butter

2 ozs (50g) castor sugar

2 eggs, preferably free range

12 ozs (300g) white flour, preferably unbleached


1 1/2 lbs (675g) Bramley Seedling cooking apples

5 ozs (150g) sugar

2-3 cloves

egg wash-made with one beaten egg and a dash of milk

castor sugar for sprinkling

To Serve

softly whipped cream

Barbados sugar

tin, 7 inches (18cm) x 12 inches (30.5cm) x 1 inch (2.5cm) deep

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/regulo 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 2 hours otherwise it is difficult to handle.

To make the tart

Roll out the pastry 1/8 inch (3mm) thick approx., and use about 2/3 of it to line a suitable tin. Peel, quarter and dice the apples into the tart, sprinkle with sugar and add the cloves. 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, approx. 45 minutes to 1 hour. When cooked cut into squares, sprinkle lightly with castor sugar and serve with softly whipped cream and Barbados sugar.

Bramley Apple and Elderflower Fool

Serves 4 -5 approx.

1 lb (450g) Bramley Apples

3 – 4 Elderflower heads

4 ozs (110g) sugar

8 fl ozs (250ml) softly whipped cream

Garnish with elderflower heads and leaves

Peel and core the apples, cut into chunks and put into a saucepan. Add the sugar, elderflower heads and water, cover and cook on a gentle heat, stirring every now and then until the apples dissolve into a fluff. Rub through a nylon sieve or liquidise. Bramley apples can be very sour at the beginning of the season, taste and add a little more sugar if it seems too tart.

When cool, fold the softly whipped cream into the apple puree. Garnish with elderflowers.

Notes on Fruit Fools

Rhubarb and blackcurrants are strong in acid, so they must somehow be well diluted. Cooking in stock syrup and then stiffening them again with a little gelatine is one way. Otherwise, one must use a great deal of cream and egg white. The amount of cream used in a fool is up to one’s own taste. I personally do not like them to be too rich.


: Chill all fools for at least 6 hours before serving.Variation

Apple and Elderflower yoghurt

Puree the apple and elderflower as above, substituting the softly whipped cream for 8 fl ozs (250ml) organic natural yoghurt

Roast Apples with Amaretto Cream

Serves 4

4 large Bramley seedling apples

50g (2oz) butter

50g (2oz) caster sugar

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons golden sultanas

150ml (1/4 pint) water (optional)

150ml (1/4 pint) cream

1 – 2 tablespoons amaretto

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.

First core the apples and score the skin across the equator. Mix the butter with the sugar, lemon zest and sultanas. Spoon the butter mixture into the apples. Stand the apples in an ovenproof baking dish and add the water.

Roast for 30 – 45 minutes. The apples should be just beginning to burst – this is vital so hold your nerve, they should look fat and squishy. Meanwhile whip the cream and add amaretto to taste. Serve the apples straight from the oven with the amaretto cream and dust with icing sugar.


Stuff the apples with homemade mincemeat

Stuff the apples with cinnamon sugar

Roast apples unadorned. Proceed as above but omit fruit & zest, serve with freshly whipped cream and soft brown sugar. Divine.

Apple Fudge Cake

Serves 10

My daughter-in-law Penny gave this recipe to my other daughter-in-law Rachel and I am so happy she did.

2 large cooking apples, such as Bramleys

2oz (50g) dark brown sugar

Cake Batter

6oz (175g) butter

6oz (175g) light brown sugar

6oz (175g) self-raising flour

4 eggs

Fudge Sauce

4oz (110g) butter

4oz (110g) light brown sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

You will also need a 10 inch (25cm) sauté pan or a spring-form tin.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4

Butter the sides of the tin and line the base with a disc of greaseproof paper. Peel and cut the apples into eights and arrange in a single layer in the tin (this will be the top of the cake when it’s cooked). Sprinkle over the 2oz (50g) dark brown sugar.

Put all the cake batter ingredients into a food processor and whiz to combine. Pour it over the apples and sugar. Cook in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until the cake is spongy in the centre. Wait for it to cool for 2 minutes before turning out.

Next make the fudge sauce. Combine and melt the butter, sugar and lemon juice. Stir and pour over the cake when it’s cool.

Taken from “Rachel’s Favourite Food” by Rachel Allen

Fool Proof 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

50g (2oz) onions

20-50g (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.

Thrifty tip

Save and freeze the water you have cooked your vegetables in to add to stocks and soups later – it will contain lots of vitamins and minerals.


Gluten Free Food Festival at O’Connells in Ballsbridge

Rosemary Kearney who is co-author with Darina Allen of Healthy Gluten Free Eating, will be joining the chefs at O’Connells in Ballsbridge, at the Ballsbridge Hotel, Lansdowne Road, Dublin to create a gluten free menu for lunch and dinner on Saturday 23trd May and lunch on Sunday 24th May. To book telephone 01 6655940.

Laying Hens

David Tyrell from Midleton, Co Cork has nine different breeds of laying hens for sale including Aracuanas and Cuckoo Marans (the only eggs that you won’t catch salmonella from because the egg shell does not have pores like other eggs) You can buy them as day old chicks right up to point of lay. Why not pick up a hen house at the same time – he has hen arcs that house six to eight hens that can be moved around small gardens or a stationary house and run for about 20 hens. David advises to get pure bred hens as they are better layers than the hybrid breeds. 087 0655646,

Super Foods – Daphne Lambert

For those who have an interest in food and a concern about food issues, the last Thursday of every month is worth marking in your diary – Cork Free Choice Consumer Group will have a speaker at the Crawford Art Gallery from 7:30pm to 10:00pm. The subject can be as varied as ‘Water, Grown your Own Vegetables, Vegetarian Food, Herbal Medicines, Bees, German Cuisine, French Cuisine, Grow your own Fruit and Nuts, Cheese Production and Bread’ It is always food related and is without exception worth making an effort to attend.
The Cork Free Choice Group aims to support and promote producers of high quality food in Co Cork, especially small specialist and traditional producers, to put them in contact with interested consumers and to create more awareness of availability and production methods. For more information contact 021-7330178
Sometimes there is a standing room only, as with recent “How to grow Year Round Vegetables” it was oversubscribed, over 50 people had to be turned away. Such is the burgeoning interest in vegetable gardening and self sufficiency.
On other occasions it is not full as with the recent brilliant talk by Daphne Lambert on “Plant Foods for Health and Vitality” (it was a beautiful evening perfect for gardening)
I was one of the fortunate ones who made it. Daphne Lambert is the owner of Greencuisine – A Healing Food Centre  in Herefordshire, UK, and is an award winning chef, nutritionist and author of “Little Red Gooseberries – Organic Recipes from Penrhos”  ISBN-13: 9780752838441. She also contributed to “A Slice of Organic Life” edited by Sheherazade Goldsmith ISBN – 13: 9780756628734
According to Daphne health and vitality is far more than just food, the strength of the community, music, dance, theatre, all contribute to our sense of wellbeing but Daphne decided to concentrate on nutrition and distil it down to its most important elements.

Soil – the Fundamental Element.

All good food comes from fertile soil but nowadays we rarely get our hands dirty any more.  There are more micro organisms in a handful of rich organic soil than there are humans on earth. Our gut hasn’t changed for over 10,000 years; it’s an extraordinary eco-system. Plant life is what supports us, but nowadays our systems are being challenged with all kinds of alien foods that are difficult and in some cases impossible to digest. Daphne’s hypothesise is that we are not just what we eat but what we digest. Healthy vibrant soil grows healthy mineral rich food, minerals are spark plugs of life, we cannot survive without them, and they are required to activate 20,000 enzyme reactions in the body.
Daphne, who is a hugely successful practicing nutritionist and herbalist, says that in her experience, lack of minerals is at the base of virtually every condition she looks at. There has been a dramatic loss of minerals particularly trace elements over the last 50 years.
Sodium 49% potassium 16% magnesium 24% calcium 46%  iron 27% copper 76% zinc 59% minerals in agricultural soil worldwide have fallen by 72%  if minerals are not in the soil they will not be in the plants  and our bio-chemistry is dependant on minerals.
In the words of Lady Eve Balfour – one of the founders of the Soil Association – that the health of humans, animals and soil are one “indivisible whole” and that biological balance begins and ends with a “truly fertile soil”.

Wild plants

Wild plants contain most minerals, then home-grown organic, commercial organic and least are found in chemically grown plants. As every organic, biodynamic and good farmer knows it is vital to feed and enrich soil with humus and well rotted compost.
We need 92 minerals and trace elements for optimum health; ideally we should be getting those from our food not from bottles of supplements.

Some foods have far greater health enhancing properties than others providing us not only with the chemical components of carbohydrates, protein, fats minerals and vitamins but a living energy. Living energy is found in biogenic foods which includes sprouted seeds and freshly gathered young green leaves, these foods have the restorative power to enhance our vitality and life force Bio-active foods are raw organic vegetables and fruits these are important to help sustain a healthy life force

Bio-static foods are cooked organic vegetables, fruits, grains and eggs; they provide warmth and energy but are very limited in the subtle energies that feed our life force
Bio-acidic foods are highly processed chemical foods especially white sugar & white flour products and factory farmed meat, these foods increase toxicity in the body so disrupt and deplete our vitality and our living energy
Nettles are one of the most nourishing foods we can eat – young leaves can picked at present and can be cooked and used like spinach, made into juice or nettle tea. According to Fitz Albert Popp wild organic food supports us most physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Fermented foods

Fermented foods are another group of foods vital for health but most lacking in our Western diet. Examples of this are sauerkraut, Korean Kimchi, Nepalese gundrie, miso, and tempeh. Grain ferments include ogi, amazake and kvass.
Dairy ferments – yoghurt and keffir. The process of fermenting harnesses microorganisms in the environment produces alcohol, lactic acid and acetic acid. It preserves food, retains nutrients and stops spoilage.
Fermented foods create nutrients, microbial cultures create b vitamins and anti-oxidants. They are powerful healing foods.

Seaweeds are another vitally important food group, according to Daphne; they are “the richest source of organic minerals and vitamins as well.” We should eat a little seaweed every day for balance and energy. Seaweeds are an excellent source of calcium, iodine (lack of iodine contributes to colds and flu and in extreme cases to goitre) they is rich in potassium, manganese, zinc, boron and silicone.
Seaweed is also good for blood pressure nails, glossy hair… The algenic acid binds with heavy metals (have you still got your iodine tablets?)
Seaweeds are easy to use; Wakame seaweed has 11 times more calcium than milk and in the correct ratio. Kelp for example can be added to soups, stocks and bean stews, to increase mineral content. Nori, mainly used to wrap sushi rolls can also be snipped into salads. Dilisk or dulse so beloved on Irish coastal communities is high in iron, can be added to breads, soups, biscuits and mashed potatoes.
Carrageen Moss is probably the best known and most widely used of all the seaweeds and is, in my estimation a wonder food for children, adults and animals.
Don’t forget how important seaweed is an a fertiliser for the land so next time you are walking along the beach after a storm, fill a few bags with seaweed, take it home and use it on your vegetable patch. It doesn’t need to be composted. For more information about Daphne Lambert’s Healing Food Centre and courses visit or telephone 0044 1544 230720.

Here are a few simple, healthy and delicious recipes from Daphne Lambert.

Daphne Lambert’s Hijiki-Carrot Salad

Serves 6

110g (4 oz) carrot
50g 2 (oz) hijiki
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons tamari
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon orange juice
Salt and pepper
110g (4oz) very finely sliced Chinese cabbage
2 teaspoons of sesame seeds

Soak the hijiki in warm water for 30 minutes, drain and cover with fresh warm water and soak for a further 30 minutes and drain.
Grate the carrot and put into a bowl with the hijiki.  Blend the dressing ingredients together and pour over the carrot and hijiki and leave to marinade.
Arrange the cabbage on four plates.  Spoon the hijiki-carrot mixture on top and scatter with sesame seeds.

Daphne Lambert’s Avocado & Spiced Lentil Salad

Serves 4

110g (4 oz)
2 carrots cut into fine julienne strips
1 spring onion, finely sliced or small leek
1 clove garlic, finely diced
2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne
2 avocados
A selection of salad leaves (rocket, garden cress, spinach, cos, mizuna)

Combine the green lentils, carrot, spring onions and garlic in a bowl.  Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, curry powder, cumin and cayenne together and pour over the lentil mixture.  Cut the avocados in half, remove the stone and peel.  Divide the salad between four plates.  Place an avocado half with the hole uppermost in the middle of each salad, pile the lentils into the cavities and serve.

Daphne Lambert’s Alfalfa, Spinach & Dulse Salad

Serves 4

2 large handfuls of spinach
2 large handfuls of alfalfa sprouts
1 handful of dulse, rinsed and finely chopped
4 tablespoons pine kernels
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt & pepper
10 finely shredded basil leaves

Finely shred the spinach and put in a bowl.
Mix together the olive oil, lemon juice,  salt & pepper and mix into the spinach, add the sprouts and dulse, scatter over the  pine kernels & basil and serve

Daphne Lambert’s Sprouted Seed Salad

Serves 6

3 oz (75g) sprouted sunflower seeds
3 oz (75g) sprouted lentils
2 oz (50g) sprouted alfalfa
2 oz (50g) sprouted wheat
1 yellow pepper diced
1 red pepper diced
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 clove garlic crushed
2 teaspoons fresh ginger
2 teaspoons tamari
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 sprigs of fresh fennel

In a bowl combine the sprouts and the peppers.  Whisk the remaining ingredients together, pour over the sprouts and peppers and gently toss together.

Daphne Lambert’s Sprouted Quinoa Salad

Serves 6

8 oz (225g) sprouted quinoa
30 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
½ cucumber, diced
6 sticks celery, finely sliced
small bunch of mint, chopped

Combine all the ingredients together.  Pour over the dressing made from blending the following ingredients…

Juice & zest of 1 lime and of 1 orange
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons hemp oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper

Daphne Lambert’s Dulse & Potato Soup

serve 6

30g (1¼ oz) dried dulse
1 carrot, chopped
1 medium floury potato, diced
1 stick celery, chopped
1 leek, white part only & chopped
60g (2½ oz) butter
½ teaspoon salt

Soak the dulse for 5 minutes.  Melt the butter in a large pan and soften the vegetables over a gentle heat.  Add the stock and drained dulse and simmer with a lid on for 30 minutes.  Process in a food processor and serve in individual bowls

Ballymaloe Homemade Yoghurt

Making one’s own yoghurt is a very satisfying and easy thing to do. This recipe will yield about 2 1/2 pints of yoghurt.

2.3l (4 pints) milk
300ml (1/2 pint) double cream
250g (9 ozs) live yoghurt

Place milk in large saucepan and bring to the boil.  Turn down to a gentle simmer and reduce by a third, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat and transfer contents to another container. Add the cream and stir well. Allow to cool. When the milk has cooled to the point that you are able to hold your finger in it for a count of ten, add yoghurt and stir well. It is important that the milk is not too hot when the bacteria are added, because it will be killed. Leave to stand overnight or until set in a warm place.  The longer the mixture is kept warm the better because the bacteria love a little bit of heat.  The yoghurt should thicken at lower temperatures but it may take longer to do so.  A classic place is in the airing cupboard but covering in cling film and wrapping in towels helps a lot. It keeps in the fridge for up to a week/ten days.

Food Proof Food

Nettle Tea

Bring fresh cold water to the boil.  Scald a china tea pot, take a handful of fresh nettle leaves and crush them gently. Wear gloves for this. The quantity will depend on how intense an infusion you enjoy.  Put the crushed leaves into the scalded teapot.  Pour the boiling water over the leaves, cover the teapot and allow to infuse for 5 – 10 minutes.  Serve immediately. Combine fresh spearmint and lemon balm leaves with the nettles for a fresh flavour.

Thrifty Tip

Mince up leftover cold cooked roast beef or roast lamb in a food processor and freeze to make a shepherds pie at a later date. All the better if you also have some left over gravy to freeze to add to the pie.


Super Sprouts
Patrick and Ronite Ganiger sell eight varieties of organic sprouts: mung beans, aduki beans, green lentils, brown lentils, puy lentils, sunflower seeds, chick peas and soya beans. Sprouts are one of the super foods; the vitamin content can be up to 6 times higher in sprouts than in the mature plant. Combine all eight types of sprouts for the ultimate vitamin boost, toss them into salads, whizz them up in the liquidiser with fruit or lightly cook them in stir fries or soups. Buy them at Mahon Point Farmers Market every Thursday, Kinsale Farmers Market on Tuesdays and at Cork City Farmers Market on Saturdays. Enquiries: 023 69151.


Seaweeds are widely available from Healthfood Shops, Sea Breeze and Clearspring are both recommended brands.

Teagasc publishes A Guide to Vegetable Growing
Stephen Alexander, a vegetable specialist for Teagasc has written a booklet ‘A Guide to Vegetable Growing’ that is packed full of information on how to grow vegetables in small areas, Mr Alexander said, “People should be aware they can take a large amount of food from a very small area and this can save the average family a great deal of money annually” The booklet is available from the website

Food Writing Course

There will be a unique chance to learn about the art and craft of food writing from Ireland’s “leading food critic” John McKenna during the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry in July. The five day food writing workshop will introduce aspiring food critics, cookbook would-be writers and those with an interest in writing about food to the strong literary tradition within food writing. The cost of the course is €175 and takes place from Monday 6th – Friday 10th July from 9.30am to 12.30pm. To find out more have a look at or 027 55987

Children’s Party Food

Just last week I over-heard a conversation of two young mums who had children’s birthday parties looming. This year one of them had decided to cook a few goodies herself – she would make chocolate rice krispies and maybe a few fairy cakes but wondered what else she could try herself. I was thrilled to suggest a few simple party treats that can be whipped up easily, particularly if you have a stand alone food mixer. Herein lies the problem, if you have to heat or whisk everything by hand, making cakes, biscuits and meringues can certainly seem like hard labour. If however you invest in a good stand alone food mixer and maybe a food processor as well, then you’ll find you can whip up all sorts of confections in minutes. I am totally anti gadget but they are worth every penny they cost, these pieces of equipment.
There’s terrific value to be had at the moment and although you may balk at the initial cost of several hundred Euros it will eliminate the hard labour and revolutionise your cooking. There are terrific bargains to be had at present. All sorts of things are possible when – as my builder says – “if you have a bit of gear”.
Suddenly it becomes fun rather than a dreaded chore.
Here are a few simple recipes.


1 lb (450g) flour
1 level teaspoon breadsoda (Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda)
1 level teaspoon salt
350-400mls (12-14 fl ozs) Buttermilk to mix
olive oil
topping of your choice

1 Swiss roll tin10 x 15 inch (25.5 x 38cm)

First fully preheat your oven to 230C/450F/gas mark 8.

Sieve the dry ingredients into a large wide bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a floured board, knead lightly for a few seconds, just enough to tidy it up.

Brush the tin with olive oil.  Roll the dough out thinly to fit the large Swiss roll tin or divide into 6 equal sized pieces.  Cover the dough with fillings of your choice.

Bake in a fully preheated oven for 25 minutes approx.  For individual pizzas roll out each piece of dough into a 6 inch (15cm) round approx. Spread with 2 tablespoons of topping eg.  Piperonata, then arrange 5 or 6 thin slices of Salami on top.  Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of grated Mozzarella cheese and bake in a fully heated convention hot oven for 8-10 minutes or until crisp underneath and golden and bubbly on top.  (Careful to roll the dough out thinly or it will not cook properly.)

Suggested Fillings

1.  Piperonata, Salami, Olive oil, Mozzarella
2.  Mozzarella, Tomato fondue, Basil oil
3.  Tomato fondue, anchovies, black olives, Mozzarella, basil oil
4.  Mushroom a la creme, crispy streaky rashers, grated Mozzarella cheese
5.  Tomato fondue, Mushroom a la creme, crispy bacon
6.  Piperonata, crispy bacon, Mozzarella cheese, olive oil

Jeanette Orrey’s Real Chicken Nuggets

This is a simple recipe and so much better that children eat these, made from local free-range or organic chicken, than any of the ingredients in the shop-bought chicken nugget.  One adult portion will be roughly ten nuggets. Serve with some home-made tomato sauce or relish.

Serves 6

225g (8oz) fresh white breadcrumbs (or less if dried)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 organic egg
125ml (4fl oz) milk
900g (2 lb) organic chicken breast, diced

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

Put the breadcrumbs into a bowl.  Add the garlic powder and paprika. Spread out onto a large tray.

Whisk the egg with the milk in a large bowl.  Add the chicken pieces in batches. Transfer the drained chicken pieces to the tray of breadcrumbs.  Toss to coat each piece evenly.

Arrange the crumbed chicken on a lightly oiled baking sheet.  Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until browned and crisp and cooked through.

Serve with fresh Tomato Fondue or Tomato Sauce

Chicken Wings with Sweet Chilli Sauce

Icky sticky and delicious!

chicken wings
sweet chilli sauce
soy sauce
toasted sesame seeds
fresh coriander leaves

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350F°/Gas mark 4

Put the chicken wings into a bowl.  Drizzle with sweet chilli sauce.  Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Cook for 25 minutes tossing every now and then.  Add more sweet chilli sauce and a generous dash of soy sauce, toss again.  Cook for a further 5-10 minutes, depending on size. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and lots of fresh coriander and serve.

Icky Sticky Sausages Wraps

Makes 10

10 small flour tortillas

10 good pork sausages
1-2 avocados, peeled and cut into wedges
Sweet chilli sauce
4 tablespoons soya sauce
2 tablespoons sesame sauce

Some curly lettuce

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan or roasting tin.  Cook the sausages until golden on all sides either on the pan or in a reheated oven at 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7.

Mix the sweet chilli sauce with soya sauce.  Add the sausages and toss until completely coated with the sweet sticky glaze.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

To Assemble

Warm a tortilla on both sides on a dry pan.  Put a sausage, a wedge or two of avocado and some curly lettuce onto the tortillas.  Turn up the end and roll over to make an open topped wrap.  Serve immediately.

Goujons of Fish with Yummy Dips

Goujons are narrow little strips of fish fillets cut across the grain. They are usually dipped in batter and deep-fried but can also be coated in milk and seasoned flour or cooked in flour, egg and crumbs.  Whatever the coating, it’s a great recipe to make a little fish go a long way and children love them.

Serves 6-8 as a main course

6-8 skinned fillets of sole or plaice or 1-2 medium-sized monkfish tails
olive oil or sunflower oil for deep-frying


5 ozs (150g) plain white flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-1 1/2 egg whites
sea salt
water or milk
fine bread crumbs


segments of lemon
sprigs of parsley

Suggested Dips

garlic mayonnaise (see recipe)
tomato mayonnaise (see recipe)
tomato and chilli mayonnaise (see recipe)

Choose a coating is using batter, first make the base.  Sieve the flour into a bowl, make a well in the centre, pour in the olive oil, stir and add enough water to make a batter about the consistency of double cream.  Allow to stand.

Cut the fish into 1/2 inch (1 cm) strips on the bias.  Heat the oil in the deep fryer to very hot, 200°C/400°F.  Just before serving, whisk the egg whites to a stiff peak and fold into the batter, adding a good pinch of sea salt.  Dip each goujon individually into the batter and drop them into the hot oil.  Fry until golden – 1-2 minutes approx. and drain on kitchen paper. (monk fish takes longer to cook than plaice or sole)

Serve at once on hot plates with a tiny bowl, shell or edible container full of sauce in the centre.

Garlic Mayonnaise

Add 1-4 crushed cloves of garlic, depending on size and 2 teaspoons chopped parsley to 600ml (1 pint) of mayonnaise.

Tomato Mayonnaise

Add 1 – 2 teaspoons of tomato puree to 600ml (1 pint) of mayonnaise.

Tomato and Chilli Mayonnaise

Add 1 – 2 tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce and 1 tablespoon of lime juice to 600ml (1 pint) of mayonnaise

Homemade Lemonades

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

Oranges and Lemonade

Makes 2.7l (4 1/2 pints)

4 lemons
2 orange
500ml (16fl oz) approx. stock syrup (see recipe)
1.5l (2 1/2 pints) approx. water

Sprigs of fresh mint or lemon balm

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


Makes 1.2l (2 pints)
Use 5 limes instead of the lemons and oranges in the above recipe.

Stock Syrup

Makes 28 fl ozs (825 ml)

1 lb (450 g) sugar
1 pint (600 ml) water

To make the stock syrup: 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.

Corrie’s Cupcakes

We all love cupcakes, kids, mums, grans, aunties…this delish recipe was given to me by Corrie Armstrong, originally a student at Ballymaloe Cookery School and now one of our teachers.

Makes 16 cupcakes

8oz (225g) soft butter
8oz (225g) caster sugar
3 large free-range, organic eggs
8oz (225g) self-raising flour
1 teaspoon golden syrup
1 tablespoon milk

Orange Butter Cream Icing

8oz (225g) soft butter
14oz (400g) icing sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon milk

2 cupcake trays, lined with paper cupcake cases

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/regulo 4.

Cream the butter well, add the caster sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, adding a teaspoon of flour with each addition. (Beat the mixture well before adding the next egg). Beat in the golden syrup, and then gently stir in the remaining flour. Stir in the milk and mix thoroughly.

Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases, filling them half-way. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20-25 mins, or until cooked and lightly golden. Remove cupcakes from the tray and place on a cooling rack.

Meanwhile, make the icing. Cream the butter and gradually add the sieved icing sugar. Mix thoroughly and stir in the golden syrup and milk. Pipe or spoon the icing onto the cupcakes and decorate with crystallised flowers, candied peel or chocolate decorations.

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.

Summer Fruit Salad and Wobbly Jellies

Sweet geranium (Pelargonium Graveolens) and many other varieties of scented geraniums are ever present on our windowsills here at Ballymaloe.  If you don’t have it leave it out. This recipe makes two delicious desserts, use the fruit and la little juice for a delicious grown up fruit salad. The remaining juice can bed made into irresistible wobbly jellies.

Serves 8-10

4 oz (110g) raspberries
4 oz (110g) loganberries
4 oz (110g) red currants
4 oz (110g) black currants
4 oz (110g) small Strawberries
4 oz (110g) blueberries
4 oz (110g) fraises du bois or wild strawberries
4 oz (110g) blackberries


14 oz (400g) sugar
16 fl oz (450ml) water
6-8 large sweet geranium leaves

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

Summer Berry Jelly with Sweet Geranium Leaves

Sometimes when we have a berry salad left over, particularly if there is more juice than fruit we make it into a jelly.  Use 4 teaspoons of gelatine to each 600ml (1 pint) of liquid.  You’ll need 1.2 litres (2 pints) for a large ring mould.  Turn it out carefully onto a large white china plate when it is set, fill the centre with softly whipped cream and decorate with geranium leaves.

Strawberry Popsicles

Homemade popsicles are really easy to make and have no e numbers. Experiment with lots of different fruit purees. Kids will soon let you know which ones they like best.

Makes 12 – 14

2 lbs (900g) very ripe fresh strawberries
juice of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 orange
1/2 lb (225g) castor sugar
1/4 pint (150ml) water

ice pop moulds and timber sticks

Dissolve the sugar in the water, bring to the boil simmer for 2-3 minutes, leave to cool.  Purée the strawberries in a food processor or blender, sieve. Add the orange and lemon juice to the cold syrup. Stir into the puree. Pour into pour into popsicle moulds and freeze.
Allow to soften for a few minutes, un mould and serve to lots of happy children.

Alan’s Chocolate Cake

Serves 8

6 oz (175g) flour
6 oz (175g) castor sugar
6 oz (175g) butter
3 free range eggs
1 1/2 level teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 ozs (35g) cocoa
2 1/2 tablespoons natural yoghurt

Icing and Filling

2 small bars or 1 large bar (200g) Bourneville chocolate
1 bar Dairy milk chocolate
2 small or 1 large egg

2ozs (50g) white or milk chocolate melted

2 x 7 inch (18cm) sandwich tins, greased and floured
1 paper piping bag

Mix all ingredients together in Magimix till just blended together.  Divide between the two tins.

Bake at 180ºC/350ºF/regulo 4 for 20 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

Melt chocolate in a Pyrex bowl over hot water.  When melted whisk in the eggs.  Fill and ice cake with this mixture.  Drizzle some white or milk chocolate over the top or write a message – “yummy, scrummy, keep off etc!”

Aunty Pam’s Rice Krispie Cake

Serves 12 – 16 hungry children

2 packets (180g/6ozs) jelly squirms
200g (7 oz) milk chocolate
180g (6oz) Kellogs Rice Krispies
3g (1oz) or 2 packets Smarties

Line the base of the spring form tin with a disc of parchment paper. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering but not boiling water. Gradually add the rice krispies careful not to break them up too much.
Spoon half of the mixture into the prepared cake tin, gently press down with the back of a metal spoon making sure it’s evenly distributed to all the edges. Sprinkle the smarties over the filling and top with the remaining chocolate coated rice krispies. Smooth the top of the cake with the back of a spoon. Cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight. Next day, remove from tin and invert onto a plate. Melt 50g (2oz) milk chocolate, spread over the top of the cake and arrange the wiggly worms and squirms on the top. Cut into wedges.


7 inch (18cm) spring form cake tin

Fool Proof Food

Aunty Pam’s Krispie Buns or Mini Rice Krispie Cakes

Makes approximately 48 mini cakes or 12 – 15 large muffin size

100g (3 ½ oz) milk chocolate
75g (3oz) Kellogs Rice Krispies

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering but not boiling water. Gradually add the rice krispies careful not to break them up too much. Spoon a heaped teaspoon into mini muffin cases. While they are still soft, gently press in a Smartie or Jelly Tot. For an extra surprise, pop a Smartie or Jelly Tot in the bottom and fill with rice krispie mixture. Chill in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours and serve on a pretty cake plate.


Mini muffin tray and mini muffin coloured cases.

Thrifty Tip
Keep citrus peels for beer traps for slugs.


Big sale of Rachel Allen’s Electrical Goods
Food mixers, food processors, juicers… all kinds of labour saving gadgets at special prices at Ballymaloe Cookery School Farm Shop (021) 4646 785

Pizza Parties for Children

PizzaParties is a Dublin based company that caters for parties of 6-16 children, ranging in ages from 8-16.  They will go to your home taking all their equipment with them to teach your child and their friends how to make their own pizzas from scratch using organic, homemade dough and the best quality ingredients. Each child will make and customise their own pizza which they can then tuck into and enjoy. Contact telephone: 086 0707099, Email web

Organic Egg Production

The Nano Nagle Centre is running a practical course designed for those wishing to start or expand small-scale organic egg production on Saturday, May 23rd May, 10.00am – 4.30pm. It is held on an organic egg farm in Mallow, Co Cork and covers all aspects of laying hen management from point-of-lay to end-of-lay. Cost: €60.00 includes lunch.
Tel: 022 26411 Fax:022 26953

Our Grannies’ Recipes

Our Grannies’ Recipes is a unique collection of delightful recipes from Grannies’ kitchens all over Ireland. The book is available in hardback and is edited by Eoin Purcell. Recipes were collected online via and by post from people all over the country – a collection of the county’s favourite Irish dishes that have been handed down from generation to generation. €1 from the sale of each book goes towards Age Action Ireland.  Published by Mercier Press (021) 4614456

The Seafood Lovers Cookbook – Martin Shanahan and Sally McKenna

I love when another new Irish cook book lands on my desk and this one is good news for the many Fishy Fishy fans. Martin Shanahan – chef proprietor of the legendary Fishy Fishy Café in Kinsale – has teamed up once again with Sally McKenna of Bridgestone Guide fame. This impressive duo have produced a sequel to ‘Fresh Seafood Cookery Book’, published in 2006, another gem called ‘The Seafood Lovers Cookbook’ published by Estragon, is easy to find, the real challenge is to find spanking fresh fish. For the past few years we have been frequently in despair at the quality of the ‘fresh fish’ we were offered. Problem is that as fish stocks dwindle boats are forced to travel further afield and are often at sea for 3 or 5 days. Consequently some of the ‘fresh fish’ may be five days old when it’s landed; hence ‘today’s catch’ takes on a whole new meaning. It will of-course have been iced down which helps to preserve the fish. Nonetheless it is a totally different product – nothing can hold a candle to carefully handled day boat fish, landed on the day it is caught, still stiff and glistening. This kind of fish for many people is now a ‘forgotten flavour’ coupled with the fact that most fish is whizzed off to the wholesalers and auctions, so few local people in coastal areas can manage to get fresh fish.  Unless you are fortunate enough to have access to a fisherman who will sell directly to local people and local restaurants.  If you have such a treasure in your area, support them and be prepared to pay a little more for this superior product. When fish is really fresh the less you do to it the better, simply pan grill or poach and serve with good Irish butter or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a few fresh herbs or a simple sauce.

When you buy fish, ask lots of questions, is it fresh, where was it caught, is it Irish? Fresh fish is food for the gods; stale fish is a total waste of money and a real challenge for the cook. That’s where all the fancy sauces and twiddles and bows on top come in when you have to mask a stale taint or compensate for the fact that the flavour wasn’t there in the first place.
So how can you tell when fish is fresh? The fish itself will look bright and glistening, the gills will be fresh. Fresh fish or shellfish doesn’t smell at all fishy. If you were blindfolded you would scarcely be able to work out by smelling that it was fish. When the eyes are sunken the fish could be five to six days old – time to be throwing it out – even the cat won’t be tempted. It’s worth being able to judge for yourself so you can choose the best.
With mounting evidence of the imbalance of Omega 3’s and the Omega 6’s in our diet, the need to eat fresh fish to boost our stocks of Omega 3’s has never been more urgent. I think you’ll find Martin and Sally’s contemporary and simple seafood recipes and the shopping guide to fish retailers throughout the country to be an invaluable resource. I would like to add another less well known name to the list. Local day boat fisherman, Tadhg O’Riordan of Ballycotton – comes from a long line of sustainable fishermen. His wife Brenda (086-1704085) delivers superb fresh fish and only fresh fish to the door for which we feel truly blessed and grateful.

The ‘The Seafood Lovers Cookbook’ can be sourced at or (The Seafood Lover’s Cookbook)

Squid with Chorizo

1 cup aged balsamic vinegar (3-5 year old)
¼ cup sugar
300g squid
1 fresh chorizo
wild rocket

Put the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and boil until it has reduced by half.
Cut the squid lengthways and score the inside of the squid with a sharp knife, cutting a little way through the surface, but not right through. Then dice the squid into pieces about 2½ cm square.
Pan fry the squid over a high heat along with the diced chorizo. Cook for about a minute before putting on the plate and topping with some wild rocket. Drizzle over some of the reduced vinegar. These quantities make enough for about two servings.

Shellfish Crumble

100g breadcrumbs
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
double portion of lemon butter sauce
200g white crab meat
150g fresh prawns
150g shrimps

Mix the breadcrumbs with the very finely chopped garlic and the parsley.
Make up a double portion of Lemon Butter Sauce (see page 25 for recipe). This will make a little more than you need, but Lemon Butter Sauce has a thousand other uses, so don’t fret.
When you are nearly ready to serve the crumble, divide the fish between four to six single serving oven-proof dishes. Pour some sauce over each one and scatter liberally with the breadcrumb mixture.
Cook the crumbles in an oven pre-heated to 200ºC for around 10 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are crispy (watch – they burn easily) and the mixture is hot right through.

Crab Claws in Lemon Butter Sauce

500g crab claws
275ml lemon butter sauce
parsley oil
sweet chilli sauce

Toss the crab claws in the lemon butter sauce. Drizzle over some parsley oil and sweet chilli sauce.

Rocket Oil/Parsley Oil

200g rocket or parsley
2 cups olive oil

Blanch the parsley or rocket (including stems) in boiling water for about 10-15 seconds. Refresh in a bowl of iced water. Drain and dry in a salad spinner. Blend 1 cup of oil with the herbs in a blender. Add the second cup of oil. Pour through a paper coffee filter into a jug and then bottle. Stored in the fridge this oil will keep well for a week.

Lemon Butter Sauce

275ml cream
80g butter
juice of 1 lemon
salt and white pepper

Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook over a moderately high heat until it reduces to a thick sauce.

Butterflied grilled Mackerel with Peanut Sauce

Peanut sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon boiling water
2 chillies, finely diced
juice of 1 lime
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon sugar
100g roasted salted peanuts
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon honey

4 whole mackerel
olive oil for brushing

First make the sauce. Place all the ingredients for the sauce in a food processor and pulse until the sauce just comes together.
Brush the mackerel with oil and grill under a hot grill for about 8 minutes. Serve with the sauce.

Roast Cod with parsley mash

Parsley Mash

20g parsley, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
8-10 potatoes, peeled
salt and pepper

4 portions of thickly-cut fresh cod fillets
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Blend the parsley and olive oil in a food processor. Boil and mash the potatoes and whisk in the parsley oil and season. Preheat the oven to its maximum temperature. Place an ovenproof pan on a high heat, and leave for 5 minutes until the pan is hot. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil to the pan; it should glisten and cover the base of the pan with a glossy film of very hot oil. Place the fish onto this searing heat, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Place the whole pan in the oven for a further 2-3 minutes until the fish is milky white and firm to the touch.

Salt and Chilli Squid

750g squid
50g rice flour
50g potato flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, crushed
oil for deep frying
sweet chilli sauce

Slice the squid into fine rings. Combine the flours and seasoning on a plate. Heat the oil to 170ºC.
Dredge the squid in the seasoned flour, shake off the excess and immediately deep fry. Do this in batches. Drain the squid on kitchen paper and serve immediately with Sweet Chilli Sauce.

Fool Proof Food

Fish Stock

Heads and bones of 1 ½ kg flat fish
1 carrott, scrubbed and chopped roughly
1 onion, peeled and halved
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 bay leaves
10 crushed black peppercorns
3 litres water

Put all the ingredients into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Skim the surface of the foam that will gather, and then simmer for absolutely no more than 15 minutes. Strain.

Thrifty Tip

Ask your fishmonger for fish bones – you may even get them for free – and make a fine pot of fish stock it only takes 15 – 20 minutes to make. Use for soups, stew and sauces.

Hot Tips

Ladybird Organic Farm rewards Green Bicycle Buyers

Ladybird Organic Farm in Tipperary has come up with a novel way of reducing the carbon footprint of visitors to farmers’ markets. All cyclists who come shopping on their bikes to the Ladybird Organic Farm stall at Farmers’ Markets in Tipperary get a 10% reduction on their purchases of home-grown eggs, beef and pork.

Ladybird Organic Farm is one of the heroes of organic farming and wants to reward like-minded buyers who purchase their organic eggs, gourmet beef burgers, 21-day dry-aged beef, rare breed rashers, pork shoulders and legs and farmhouse sausages. The 10% discount applies to the end of May and is, according to Stella Coffey, a way that people can help the environment while supporting local food. 052-42816

Silk Purse Evening Food and Drink Parlour

An Cruibin, celebrates its first year of existence with the official launch of The Silk Purse, on Thursday 30th April at 8pm. The restaurant, where elegance and debauchery go hand on hand, is located above the music venue The Lobby, 1 Union Quay, Cork city. To book telephone 021 4310071. For raucous, delicate, compassionate, uncouth and heady cuisine in tres chic et risque ambience.

Nude Food Another Gem in Dungarvan

Charismatic cook and Farmers Market organiser Louise Clark opened Nude Food in Dungarvan, Co Waterford in September 2008 and when we called in there last weekend the place was packed with people queuing at the door for a table. They source most of their food locally; suppliers include Arbutus Breads, Ardsallagh Cheese and Green Saffron Spices. Louise tells me her roasted Mediterranean vegetables served with hummus on the side is a best seller as is the spicy lamb burger served in a Broadway bagel. (058) 24594


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