ArchiveMay 9, 2009

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


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