ArchiveJune 2009

Maria Elia – Modern Vegetarian

In my column I certainly give lots of recipe suggestions for meat and fish lovers but I sometimes wonder whether I do justice to vegetarians. So in this weeks column veggies are the heroes and I’ll share some inspiring recipes from a first time cook book author which truly illustrate the versatility of vegetables. You certainly don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy these recipes. Doesn’t matter whether you make your choice for ethical, religious or health reasons, I would argue that vegetables are by far the most important food group and you certainly don’t have to sacrifice your taste buds.

Seasonality and freshness are everything. For years now I’ve been encouraging people to grow something, anything, and themselves even if it’s only a few herbs or salad leaves. The flavour and convenience will be enough to infect you with the ‘grow your own’ bug and soon you’ll be swapping with friends and expanding your range.

Maria Elia is a new name to me but by all accounts is well known to others. Her passion for food started when she was little, she’d dash into her Greek Cypriot father’s kitchen after school hoping to be allowed to cook. As soon as she could she put her pack on her back and headed for Italy, America, Spain, and Australia, all these international influences are reflected in her cooking style. She was much acclaimed while she was head chef at Delfina’s in London and was voted one of the top 10 female chefs by the Independent. At present she’s making waves at the newly opened White Chapel Gallery Dining Room in London. Her first cookbook rather boringly named ‘The Modern Vegetarian’ is one of the most accessible and inspirational books of vegetarian food I’ve yet to come across. As I flicked through the pages I wanted to try almost everything I saw. How about these…

Maria Elia’s Chilled Tomato, Peach and Ginger Soup

The combination of tomato and peach is delicious. Jazzed up with warming ginger and a hint of red chilli it makes the perfect summer soup, and is one of my favourites. Serve it with some Thai basil (Italian works too), a little diced tomato and peach and a drizzle of olive oil, and you’re sure to impress!

serves 4

4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

2 large shallots (or 8 small), peeled, halved

lengthways and finely sliced

70g fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced

1kg plum vine tomatoes

8 ripe peaches

4 garlic cloves, finely sliced

1 red chilli, split in half lengthways

pinch of white sugar

sea salt and pepper

8 Thai basil leaves, torn

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the shallots and ginger and cook over a medium-low heat until ‘caramelised’ (sticky and softened) – this will take about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water (or a kettle) to the boil. Remove the core and lightly criss cross the base of each tomato with a knife. Put them in a large bowl, pour hot water over them and leave for 30 seconds. Drain and set aside. Repeat with the peaches, but leave for about 1 minute or until the skins begin to loosen. Remove and discard skins from peaches and tomatoes and set aside one of each for the garnish. Add the garlic and chilli to the shallots and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Roughly chop the tomatoes, reserving all the juices, and add to the pan. Roughly chop the peaches, discarding the stones and add to the pan. Add the sugar, sea salt and 650ml water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the garnish. Cut the reserved tomato in half, lengthways, then into quarters and remove the seeds (adding to the soup). Cut each tomato ‘petal’ into 1/2-cm dice. Repeat with the reserved peach. Refrigerate until required.

Remove and discard the chilli from the soup. Puree the soup until smooth (add a little water if too thick), season to taste, cool and then refrigerate, covered, until required.

Serve garnished with peach and tomato dice, Thai basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.

NOTE: If you are feeling adventurous you could also try garnishing with a little deep-fried ginger. You will need a long piece of ginger (I say long, as this means your fingers will be further away from the blade!), which you peel, then using a very sharp knife or mandolin, slice into wafer-thin pieces. Heat a small pan of vegetable oil until almost smoking and fry the ginger in batches until golden. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. These ginger crisps can also be made in advance and stored in an airtight container.

Maria Elia’s Halloumi, Raita, Endive Salad and Crispy Poppadoms

Add an interesting twist to halloumi with this fruity spice paste. Paneer would also work well or, if you’re a vegan, try using tofu (but make sure it’s well drained). The raita is great served with grilled aubergines, too.

serves 4

For the spiced halloumi

2 x 200g blocks halloumi cheese, each sliced

into 4 pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 poppadoms, cooked

For the spice paste


4 tablespoons mango chutney

2cm fresh ginger, peeled and grated

a pinch each of ground turmeric, paprika,

cumin, coriander

half a bunch of chopped coriander

sea salt and black pepper

For the raita


6 tablespoons Greek yogurt

6cm cucumber, peeled, deseeded and finely diced

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and grated

2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion

2cm fresh ginger, peeled and grated

pinch each of ground cumin and garam masala

juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoons chopped coriander

sea salt

For the salad


2 heads Belgian endive (white chicory),

thinly sliced

1/2 bulb fennel, finely sliced

4 Medjool dates, stoned and julienned (optional)

11/2 tablespoons shredded mint and coriander

a bunch of watercress, picked

For the dressing


juice of 1 lemon

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, preferably


salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and add the halloumi. Cook for 1 minute on either side.

Meanwhile, mix all of the spices for the paste together. Remove the pan from the heat, top the halloumi pieces with the spice mix and place under the grill. Cook for about 3 minutes to heat the halloumi through.

While the halloumi is cooking, mix together all of the ingredients for the raita and season to taste with sea salt. For the salad, mix all of the ingredients together and dress with lemon juice, olive oil and white wine vinegar. Season to taste.

To assemble, place 1 poppadom flat on each plate, top with salad, half the raita and 2 halloumi slices. Break the remaining poppadoms into 3 pieces each and stand upright in the remaining raita.

Dino’s Greek Peas – Maria Elia

Thanks to my dad, Dino, I knew I wanted to be a chef at the age of just four. My parents owned a restaurant in Richmond, and I would eagerly wait for my mum to come and collect me from nursery every day, after which we would run back to the restaurant together and I would get to see my dad. He was always busy cooking and I found it fascinating to watch him. Sometimes, I was given jobs to do, like grating Parmesan through the cylinder grater, or feeding potatoes through the rumbler. I would be in my element!

Here is the recipe for Dino’s peas, best made a day in advance so that the flavours can intensify overnight.

serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 teaspoons tomato purée

1 x 400g tin plum tomatoes, crushed by hand

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

200g peas

a small bunch of dill, finely chopped, or 11/2 tablespoons dried dill

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the onion and cook over a medium heat until softened. Add the garlic and tomato purée and cook for a further minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar and cinnamon and cook for 5 minutes. Add the peas, 3 tablespoons of water, the dill and a pinch of salt and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20–30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Adjust the seasoning. Serve warm.

Maria Elia’s Spiced Cherry Vine Tomato Sauce

If you like a bit of spice, add a pinch of chilli flakes to the recipe below. Try using this sauce tossed with spaghetti, fresh chillies and coriander for an Asian slant on a spaghetti arrabiata.

makes enough for 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

10 curry leaves

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

450g cherry tomatoes, halved

pinch of sugar

1 tablespoon tomato puree

pinch of sea salt

Heat the olive oil in a wok or frying pan until hot. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves and cook until beginning to pop. Remove from the heat. Add the garlic and ginger, and then cook over a low heat for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato purée, salt and 2 tablespoons of water and simmer over a low heat for 10–15 minutes until the tomatoes are softened and the sauce has thickened.

Maria Elia’s Coffee Bean Crème Caramel

makes 7 baby ramekins (or 4 large ones)

For the caramel

110g caster sugar

20ml water

2 tablespoons strong coffee

For the custard

225ml double cream

1 tablespoon coffee beans

1/2 vanilla pod, split and beans scraped

1 egg yolk

1 egg

65g caster sugar

To make the caramel, heat the sugar and water over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring to the boil without stirring; cook until golden. Remove pan from the heat and carefully pour in the coffee. Stir until smooth and simmer for 2 minutes, then divide evenly between the ramekins.

To make the custard, preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2. Heat the cream, coffee beans, vanilla pod and beans over a low heat until beginning to boil. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. (Put the kettle onto boil now for your bain marie.) Whisk the egg yolk, egg and sugar until pale and thick. Strain the cream mixture into the eggs, whisk and pour into the ramekins. Line a small baking tin with a tea towel, place the ramekins on top and pour in boiling water to halfway up the sides. Cook for about 20–30 minutes for small ramekins and 30–40 minutes for bigger ones, until the custard is just set.

Remove the ramekins from the water and leave to cool before refrigerating for 2 hours or overnight. To serve, run a knife around the edge of each ramekin and turn the custard out. Serve with Coffee Tuilles.

Maria Elia’s Coffee Tuilles

Tuilles are usually circular and curved in the centre, involving a rolling pin and lots of work. Here I’ve suggested spreading the mixture out, cooking, then breaking into long shards. I think they look much more dramatic this way and are a lot less fiddly.

Serves 4 – 6

40g unsalted butter

2 teaspoons instant coffee granules

40g plain flour

40g icing sugar

1 egg white

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Gently heat the butter until just melted, add the coffee and stir to dissolve. Sift the flour and icing sugar together and with a wooden spoon, beat in the egg white and the butter mixture to form a smooth paste. Chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes or overnight before using. Spread the mixture thinly on a non-stick tray or Teflon mat and cook for about 4 – 5 minutes until beginning to brown at the edges. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before breaking into long shards. Keep in an airtight container if not using straight away.


Fool Proof Food

Maria Elia’s Rosemary Popcorn

Decadent popcorn, easily made by infusing olive oil with rosemary. Fabulous to serve at a drinks party. To vary the flavour, try adding a little chilli powder to the rosemary popcorn once cooked. Or infuse the oil with sage or finely grated lemon zest instead of rosemary. You could also pop the corn, then drizzle with truffle oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Popcorn will never be the same again!

serves 4

100ml extra virgin olive oil

3 sprigs of rosemary

150g popping corn

sea salt

Pour the oil into a small saucepan, strip the rosemary leaves off the sprigs and add the leaves to the oil. Warm over a low heat for 10 minutes, and then set aside for 20 minutes or overnight to infuse. Following the directions on the popping corn packet, make the popcorn. When popped and still warm, drizzle with a little rosemary oil, sprinkle with sea salt, toss well to mix and serve.

Thrifty Tip

“Wine boxes, with their lovely embossed logos, are great for growing salad crops in. The best place to source these are from high end wine merchants as the better the wine the better the quality of the boxes” taken from ‘The Thrifty Gardener’ by Alys Fowler, published by Kyle Cathie.  



Diva Boutique Bakery and Cafe

Diva Boutique Bakery and Café in Ballinspittle near Kinsale serve really good coffee and the owner Shannen Keane freshly bakes her famous brownies daily. The roasted organic chicken with organic rocket pesto served with sweet potato chips is delicious. Shannen believes in supporting local farmers and buys most of her produce locally. Stop in on the way back from Garretstown Beach to try her ice cold strawberry lemonade. Open every day except Tuesday when Shannen sells her wares at the Kinsale Farmers Market. Telephone (021) 4778465.

Ballymaloe Cookery School Gardens and Farm

Find out what’s new on the farm and in the farm shop on Twitter (bcsfarmshop)

Cool and Spicy Summer Menu

Green Saffron has its summer menu out and it’s all about fresh, flavoursome, spicy food. Try their rose petal and lemon rice salad served with mild spiced chicken, organic leaves, jalfrezi crème with fresh lime and coriander. Their mango kulfi (Indian ice cream) is delicious and so is the lemon ginger sherbet cordial, perfect for hot summer days. Ask about their meal deals, dinner for two for a tenner. Find Green Saffron at the Farmers Markets in Kinsale on Tuesdays, Mahon Point every Thursday, and Limerick and Midleton Markets on Saturdays.

Midsummer Party

How about having a little party to celebrate Midsummer and all the beautiful fresh produce springing forth from the garden and Farmers Markets?

The first of the new season Home-guard potatoes are now bursting out of their jackets to be enjoyed with a few flakes of sea salt and a lump of good Irish butter. We’ve been enjoying broad beans for the past few weeks and eating them in every conceivable way, even using the pods for soup. If you grow your own you won’t want to waste a scrap – freshness is of paramount importance to everything but most particularly broad beans and peas which go mealy within a few hours of being picked. We love to pick them just before dinner, it only takes a few minutes and then involved everyone in the shelling as they sip an aperitif, it may not be your idea of a good time but its lots of fun and most people have never enjoyed the tactile experience of taking broad beans our of their fur lined pods, something not to be missed. The hedgerows are bursting with elderflowers and the green gooseberries are ready to pick – you’ll need to be quick because they are ripening fast, soon they’ll be too sweet for really good tarts and compotes. The combination of the two flavours is one of the most magical of the entire summer. Here I suggest an elderflower Pannacotta with green gooseberry and elderflower compote. It’s pretty served in little Moroccan tea glasses or small narrow water glasses. For main course how about a roast organic chicken with fresh peas, cream and chervil and flowery new potatoes. Follow that with a salad of summer leaves and fresh herbs and flowers.

Alternatively make a risotto and add the blanched and skinned broad beans and lots of summer savoury. If you’d prefer a cool pudding make some vanilla ice cream to serve with the gooseberry and elderflower compote both can be made ahead and each are exquisite it their own way. Buy a little prosecco to make a toast to Midsummer.

Organic Chicken Roast with Two Lemons


This recipe given to me by Marcella Hazan, is the simplest most delicious roast chicken recipe I know – no fat, no basting, and no stuffing. We use Dan Ahern’s organic chickens. (021) 4631058


Serves 4


1 x 3-4 lb (1.35-1.8kg) free range organic chicken

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 small organic lemons


Trussing needle and string


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

Wash the chicken thoroughly with cold water. Remove any bits of fat from around the vent end. Drain the chicken well and dry thoroughly with a tea towel or kitchen paper.

Rub the salt and freshly ground black pepper with your fingers over all the body and into the cavity. Wash the lemons well and dry them with a tea towel, roll on the counter and prick each of the lemons in at least 20 places with a cocktail stick or skewer.

Put both lemons in the cavity. Close up the opening with cocktail sticks or with a trussing needle and string. Don’t make it absolutely airtight or the chicken may burst!

Put the chicken into a roasting pan, breast side down. Do not add cooking fat of any kind. This bird is self-basting, so don’t worry it won’t stick to the pan. Place it in the upper third of the preheated oven. After 30 minutes, turn the chicken breast side up. Be careful not to puncture the skin.

Cook for another 30-35 minutes then increase the heat to 200C/400F/regulo 6, and cook for a further additional 20 minutes. Calculate between 20-25 minutes total cooking time for each 1 lb (500g). There is no need to turn the chicken again.

Bring the chicken to the table whole, garnished with sprigs flat parsley and leave the lemons inside until it is carved. The juices that run out are perfectly delicious, so be sure to spoon them over the chicken slices. The lemons will have shrivelled up but they still contain some juice; do not squeeze, they may squirt.

Serve immediately.


Risotto with Broad Beans, Peas, Green Asparagus and Sugar Snaps

Risotto makes a comforting delicious starter or main course

Serves 8

225g (½ lb) broad beans

225g (½ lb) peas

115g (¼ lb) sugar snaps

6 stalks green asparagus

40g (1½ oz) butter

110g (4oz) onions finely chopped

400g (14oz) Carnaroli, Vilano, Nano or Arboria rice

1.7-2L (3-3½ pints) Homemade chicken stock

80ml (3 fl oz) white wine

25g (1oz) freshly grated Parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano

salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring 600ml (1 pint) water to the boil, add salt, the broad beans and cook for 2 or 3 minutes or until almost tender, drain and refresh in cold water. Slip the beans out of their shells. Meanwhile cook the sugar snaps again in boiling salted water until al dente, then cook the asparagus for just 4 or 5 minutes and finally the peas for 3 or 4 minutes. Do this while cooking the risotto if you can keep your eye on several pots at the same time.

To start the risotto, bring the chicken stock to the boil at the back of the cooker and keep at a low simmer. Melt 25g (1oz) of butter in a saucepan, add the finely chopped onion and cook over a medium heat until soft but not coloured, and add the rice and a generous pinch of salt. Stir the rice over the heat for 2-3 minutes or until it turns translucent, then increase the heat and add the dry white wine. When the wine has evaporated, add a couple of ladles full of stock, stir and reduce the heat to medium, keep stirring and as soon as the liquid has been almost absorb, add another ladle full and so on, stirring all the time. After about 10 minutes, add the beans, peas, sugar snaps and continue to ladle in more stock as it is absorb. After about 5 minutes, taste the rice, it should be just cooked, stir in the remainder of the butter, freshly grated Parmesan and the asparagus sliced into 1¼ inch pieces at an angle. Add a little more stock if necessary, the risotto should be soft and loose. Taste and correct the seasoning. Serve immediately in hot bowls with more Parmesan to sprinkle over the top.

Green Salad with Edible Flowers


Prepare a selection of salad leaves: mild lettuce (eg. the common butterhead) as the basis of the salad and as many of the following as you care to or can put in:

finely chopped parsley, mint or any herbs of your fancy, spring onions, dice of cucumber, mustard and cress, watercress, the white tips of cauliflower, tips of purple sprouting broccoli, iceberg lettuce, cos, raddichio, oakleaf, Chinese leaves, rocket, salad burnet, and any other interesting lettuces available and add some edible flowers, eg. marigold petals, nasturtium flowers, borage flowers, chive flowers, rocket blossoms etc. one or all of these or some other herb flowers could be added. Toss with a well flavoured dressing just before serving.

This salad could be served as a basis for a starter salad or as an accompanying salad to be main course. Remember to use a little restraint with the flowers!


Ballymaloe Cookery School Summer Salad Dressing


4fl ozs (110ml) extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon English mustard powder OR1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

freshly ground pepper and Maldon sea salt

Put all the ingredients into a small bowl or jam jar. Whisk with a fork until the dressing has emulsified.


Roast Beetroot with Ardsallagh Goat Cheese and Balsamic Vinegar


Our new season’s beetroot are the size of table tennis balls by now and are so sweet and delicious; try roasting instead of boiling them for extra sweetness.

Serves 4

6-12 baby beetroot, a mixture of red, golden and Choggia would be wonderful

Maldon Sea Salt

freshly cracked pepper

extra virgin olive oil

balsamic vinegar

175g (6oz) goat cheese -Ardsallagh or St. Tola

rocket and beetroot leaves

wild garlic leaves if available

Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/regulo 8

Wrap the beetroot in aluminium foil and roast in the oven until soft and cooked through – 30mins to an hour depending on size.

To Serve


Rub off the skins of the beetroot, keep whole or cut into quarters. Toss in extra virgin olive oil.

Scatter a few rocket and tiny beetroot leaves on each serving plate. Arrange a selection of warm beetroot on top. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and Balsamic vinegar. Put a dessert spoonful of goat cheese beside the beetroot. Sprinkle with Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper. Garnish with tiny beet greens or wild garlic flowers and serve.


Pannacotta with Green Gooseberry and Elderflower Compote


Serves 6-8



600ml (1 pint) double cream

1-2 vanilla pods split lengthways

50g (2 ozs) castor sugar

scant 2 teaspoons powdered gelatine

2 tablespoons water


Gooseberry and Elderflower Compote

900g (2 lbs) green gooseberries

2 or 3 elderflower heads

600ml (1 pint) cold water

450g (1 lb) sugar



gooseberry leaves (optional)

softly whipped cream

soft brown Barbados sugar


6-8 moulds (3-4 fl ozs/75-110ml) lightly brushed with non scented oil – sunflower or arachide




First make the Pannacotta. Put the cream into a heavy bottomed saucepan with the split vanilla pods and castor sugar. Put on a low heat and bring to the shivery stage. Meanwhile, ‘sponge’ the gelatine in the water. Put the bowl in a saucepan of simmering water until the gelatine is dissolved. Add a little of the cream to the gelatine, then stir both mixtures together. Remove the vanilla pods, and then pour into the moulds. When cold, cover and refrigerate until set, preferably overnight.

Next make the compote.


First top and tail the gooseberries. Tie 2 or 3 elderflower heads in a little square of muslin, put in a stainless steel or enameled saucepan, add the sugar and cover with cold water. Bring slowly to the boil for 2 minutes. Add the gooseberries and simmer just until the fruit bursts. Allow to get cold. Serve in a pretty bowl and decorate with fresh elderflowers.



To Serve


Put a large gooseberry leaf on a plate. Carefully turn out a wobbly panna cotta onto or beside the leaf, spoon a little compote on to the plate. Put a blob of softly whipped cream to the side. Sprinkle this with soft brown sugar and serve immediately.



Ballymaloe Vanilla Ice-cream

Serves 6-8


The Ballymaloe Ice-creams are very rich and very delicious, made on an egg mousse base with softly-whipped cream and flavourings added. Ice-creams made in this way have a smooth texture and do not need further whisking during the freezing period. They should not be served frozen hard. Remove from the freezer at least 10 minutes before serving.


50g (2oz) sugar

100ml (4fl oz) water

2 egg yolks, preferably free-range and organic

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

600ml (1pint) softly whipped cream


Put the egg yolks into a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy (keep the whites for meringues). Combine the sugar and water in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir over heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, then remove the spoon and boil the syrup until it reaches the ‘thread’ stage, 106-113°C (236°F). It will look thick and syrupy; when a metal spoon is dipped in, the last drops of syrup will form thin threads. Pour this boiling syrup in a steady stream onto the egg yolks, whisking all the time. Add vanilla extract and continue to whisk until it becomes a thick creamy white mousse. Fold the softly-whipped cream into the mousse, pour into a bowl, cover and freeze.

Fool Proof Food

Garden Peas with Chervil and Cream

Really fresh peas from the garden are exquisite that it is difficult to resist eating them all raw as you pod them! Serve these with Organic Roast Chicken with Lemon.

1 lb (450g) garden peas or petit pois, freshly shelled

4 fl oz pint (150ml) water

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 sprig mint

1 oz (25g) approx. butter

2 ½ fl oz cream

1-2 tablespoons of freshly chopped chervil

Bring the water to the boil; add the salt, sugar, mint and the peas. Bring back to the boil and simmer until the peas are cooked, 4-5 minutes. Strain, reserving the water for soup or gravy. Add butter and cream and lots of freshly chopped chervil and a little extra seasoning if necessary. Eat immediately.



Thrifty Tip

Cook extra food the night before so there is enough left over to put into a lunch box to take to work or on a day trip the next day.


The Ecologist

The last print edition of the Ecologist is the July issue (on sale June 19th). After that the Ecologist will appear online and will offer even more content and up to the minute debate on the vital issues that affect our world. To sign up for the online newsletter go to

Midsummer Evening Dance

There will be a wonderful evening of music and dance with Art Supple in the Grainstore on Midsummer’s night Sunday 21st June, and Ballymaloe are offering a special rate for that night that includes an overnight stay. Phone (021) 4652531

Isaacs of Cork

Isaacs Restaurant on McCurtain Street Cork has a special treat at the moment. Dinner menu for €25.00 for a starter, main course, tea or coffee on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Try their French Country Terrine, their Seafood Chowder, grilled Ribeye Steak or their excellent Lamb Curry.

Bookings (021) 450 3805. To see their menus visit their website


Premio Award for St Tolas Cheese

St Tola’s Goats Cheese won 3rd Prize in the International section of the Premio Roma awards for Ewe and Goats Milk Cheeses recently in Rome Italy. St Tola cheeses are handmade organic cheeses with no additives or preservatives and have been made in Inagh just south of the Burren in County Clare since the early 1980’s. Phone (065)6836633 visit their website

Homebaking – George and

Apparently Britain is in the grip of a cake mania. What with Nigella, Jamie and of course, our own Rachel, everyone is baking. The Women’s Institute, spiritual home of the iced occasional fruitcake, reported that interest in their baking courses was up 60 per cent; one online retailer said it was selling a cookie cutter every 15 minutes; and the nation will be further galvanised into action with the start of a National Baking Week next October.

I suppose it’s not so surprising, really: in the current climate of gloom and doom, what more therapeutic activity could there be than baking? More people are admitting that thrifty living and self-sufficiency are not mere hardship as they rediscover the satisfaction one gleans from growing, producing and cooking your own. There was a terrific response to the ‘how about keeping a few chickens in your garden’ and ‘bake your own birthday party’ pieces. Handy DIY enthusiasts all over the country are knocking up chicken coops while others are filling the void by hatching out chickens and rearing them to point of lay. For those eager to get started with breeds suitable for free range production contact Giana Ferguson 028-28231, Sophie Miall 086-0839569, or David Tyrell on 087-9123375. Check with the Department of Agriculture and you local County Council about the regulations for keeping domestic fowl. Lovely fresh free-range eggs make great cakes.

From time to time, Grub Street publishers reissue timeless cookery classics, and I’ve been delighted to see many almost forgotten treasures back in print. Recently they re-published two little baking books by George and Cecilia Scurfield, ‘Home Baked’ and ‘Homemade Cakes and Biscuits’ into one elegant hardback ‘Home Baked’ with delightful illustrations. These were listed by Elizabeth David in a Times article in 1971 as her favourite books on bread making. The book has specific advice on equipment, flours to use, baking and rising times, correct temperatures and many gems of information the home baker will want to know.

George and Cecilia got fed up with shop-bought bread and took to creating new recipes and baking their own in the early 1950s. The result was two charming and useful books which became cookbook classics that have lost none of their appeal since their original publication in 1956 and 1963.

I’ve chosen a few recipes I think you’ll enjoy…


Gipsy Slices

2 eggs

2oz/50g sugar

2oz/50g flour

1oz/25g chocolate

1/2 oz/15g butter

Put 2 ounces (50g) grated chocolate into a saucepan with 1/4 pint (150ml) cream. Grate or break the chocolate and put it in a bowl with the butter. Put it in a warm place to soften. Put the eggs and sugar in a bowl over steam and whisk until thick and creamy. Remove from heat and go on beating until cool. Fold in the sieved flour, and finally the softened butter and chocolate. Put a piece of buttered greaseproof paper on to a baking-sheet, and spread the mixture on it about 1/2 inch thick. Bake until firm to the touch in a hot over, 400°F, Gas mark 6.

Remove paper while still hot. Cut into slices when cool and fill with the following cream:

Bring slowly to the boil stirring all the time. Allow to boil up once and then remove from the fire and pour into a bowl. Stir until cool. Chill thoroughly and then whisk gently until thick.

Real cream is essential and this is a most delicious filling. You can of course fill the slices with chocolate butter icing but they will not then be the genuine article.


Russian Rhubarb Cake

This is an unusual cake, good for people who like the taste of rhubarb but usually find it too sour.

4 large eggs

10oz/270g butter

12oz/50g sugar

12oz/50g flour

1 dessertspoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon cinnamon

14oz/400g diced rhubarb

pinch of grated nutmeg

Melt the butter without getting it very hot. Then mix all the ingredients except the rhubarb and beat vigorously. Spread the mixture over a well-greased Swiss roll tin and cover with the diced rhubarb. Sprinkle generously with sugar and bake for 45 minutes in a fairly hot oven, 400°F, Gas mark 6—lowering the heat slightly if cake looks like getting too brown. Cut into slices and remove them carefully with a spatula to cool on a cake-rack.




Orange Jumbles

4oz/110g castor sugar

4oz/110g almonds

3oz/75g butter

3oz/75g flour

juice of 2 oranges

grated rind of 1 orange

Blanch the almonds and shred them. Cream the butter and sugar together with the grated orange rind. Then mix in the flour, the shredded almonds and the orange juice. Drop the mixture in teaspoonfuls on to a greased baking-sheet leaving plenty of room for them to spread. Bake in a moderate oven, 350°F, Gas mark 4, for about 10 minutes. Allow them to cool a little before lifting with a palette-knife on to a rack to cool.


Coffee Sandwich Biscuits

3oz/75g flour

1oz/25g ground rice

3oz/75g butter

2oz/50g castor sugar

2 teaspoons instant coffee

1 teaspoon water halved walnuts (if you like)

Sieve the flour and ground rice together. Cream the butter and sugar. Mix the coffee with the water and beat into the creamed butter and sugar. Fold in the dry ingredients and mix together. Roll out thin and cut into rounds—if you use walnuts, put half a walnut on every other biscuit.

Put them on a greased baking-sheet and bake in a moderate oven, 350°F, Gas mark 4, for about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

When they’re cold put them together with the following cream:

Cream 1oz (25g), butter with 2oz (50g) icing sugar and then beat in 1 teaspoon instant coffee mixed with 1 teaspoon cream.

Hazelnut Macaroons

2 egg whites

3oz/75g castor sugar

2oz/50g hazelnuts—after the skins have been removed

Put a good 2oz (50g) hazelnuts into a hot oven until the nuts are slightly toasted and the skins come off easily. Put them in a tea-towel and rub off the skins. Then grind them.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Whisk in half the sugar and then fold in the rest of the sugar alternately with the ground hazelnuts.

Either drop teaspoonfuls of the mixture on to a greased and floured baking-sheet or pipe them into small mounds. Bake in a cool oven, 300°F, Gas mark 2, until they are just coloured—about 1 hour.


Fool Proof Food

Rhubarb and Ginger Jam

This delicious jam should be made when rhubarb is in full season and not yet thick and tough.

Makes 8 x 1 lb (450 g) jars

4 lb (1.8kg) trimmed rhubarb,

4 lb (1.8kg) granulated sugar

grated rind and juice of 2 lemons

2 ozs (50g) bruised ginger

2 ozs (50g) chopped crystallized ginger or stem ginger preserved in syrup (optional)

Wipe the rhubarb and cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) pieces. Put it in a large bowl layered with the sugar; add the lemon rind and juice. Leave to stand overnight. Next day put into a preserving pan, add the bruised ginger tied in a muslin bag. Steadily bring to the boil until it is a thick pulp. Remove the bag of ginger and then pour the jam into hot clean jars, cover and store in a dry airy cupboard.

If you like, 2ozs (50g) chopped crystallized ginger or preserved stem ginger can be added at the end.

Thrifty Tip

While rhubarb is still cheap and plentiful, cut into one inch pieces and freeze. Also make some rhubarb jam for the winter (recipe Fool Proof Food)


New Tuesday Farmers’ Market in Midleton

An exciting new mid-week Farmers Market has started in Midleton every Tuesday from 10:00am to 2:00pm outside 4Homes Superstores. There are delicious steak sandwiches, barbecued hot dogs and spicy curries to eat while you browse over thirty stalls with produce ranging from organically reared beef, ducks and chicken, freshly baked artisan breads, Irish Farmhouse cheeses, Cornish pasties, cakes, tarts, local honey, fresh fish…my mouth is watering as I write this list. Most of the stall holders are from within a 10 mile radius of Midleton.

Visit their website The original Saturday Farmers’ Market in Midleton continues to go from strength to strength and is open from 9am to 2pm in the Fair Green.

The Tannery Restaurant and Cookery School, Dungarvan

Denis Cotter of Caf̩ Paradiso Рprobably one of the most celebrated and accomplished vegetarian cooks in Europe Рwill be teaching a one day Vegetarian Cookery Course at the Tannery Cookery School on Friday 26th June 2009. Why not book a table in the Tannery restaurant after the course and enjoy an excellent meal? To see the menus and details of other cookery courses visit their website or 058 45420 for more information.

Dunmore East Festival of Food

Festival of Food, Fish and Fun is from Friday 26th to Sunday 28th June. Enjoy cookery demonstrations by guest chefs including Kevin Dundon, Eunice Power and Michael Quinn. There’ll be wine and cheese tastings, a hog roasting on the spit and catch and cook…email

London Calling

Last week we headed off to London with a group of teachers from the cookery school. We were on our school tour, a fact finding mission to check out and experience the London food scene. It’s amazing what can be crammed into two days when you are on a mission.

When we arrived on Friday evening we headed straight for one of London’s best known gastro pubs “Anchor & Hope” on the cut. Here the menu changes not once but twice daily, it’s totally seasonal, simple uncluttered food. They are particularly well known for their shared dish. A salt marsh shoulder of lamb cooked for five hours with Gratin Dauphinoise or it might be a slow cooked and stuffed duck or chicken. That night, it was roast kid with hand cut chips and home made aioli. These dishes are served to parties of 2 and 4 and 6. I’ll shock you by telling you that I started with crispy pig’s tail with aioli. It was so good and was such a hit with the customers that at seven o’clock mine was the last portion on the menu.

You can’t book at the Anchor and Hope (except no choice Sunday lunch menu) but even that doesn’t seem to dampen the punters enthusiasm. By six o’clock in the evening it was wall to wall people and they were five deep on the pavement as well. The food was hearty, delicious and unpretentious and everyone was having a brilliant time.

By 8:30am on Saturday morning we were out of our beds and on our way to Borough, London’s oldest market – it’s vital to get there early, by ten o’clock it’s like St Patrick Street on Christmas Eve. First we made a beeline for the Monmouth Coffee Shop; Anita Le Roy sells a full range of single estate coffees which are first roasted at their site in Maltby Street, Bermondsey. Big blackboards tell the story of the coffee and there is a queue all day for coffee, bread, jam and buttery pastries. Next door is Neal’s Yard dairy famous for Randolf Hoginson’s collection of British and Irish farmhouse cheese. Here we had a tasting of cows and goats mild cheese all in beautiful condition. Mike (Jones?) told us the story of each cheese whetting our appetite with tales of the lush pastures the cows graze on and the passionate and eccentric cheese makers.

Around the corner we peeped into Konditori & Cook, a cake shop that sells fabulous cakes, the sort you’d make yourself if only you had time, energy or inclination. Sweet little square ‘cup cakes’ with messages ‘hug me’, ‘I love you’, ‘mine’, ‘congratulations’, ‘sorry’…one could buy a series to spell out for example ‘Happy birthday’. There were gingerbread men with more good wishes and tons of irresistible cakes and biscuits.

In the Borough market there are lots of inspirational stalls, we ordered Pata Negra at The Brindisa shop and took our turn while the assistant hand cut slivers off the Jamon Iberico. This sublime cured ham the best of which are from the long legged Black Iberian pig, cerdo negro, which feeds on acorns in the woods of Andalucía. (I keep wondering why some Irish pig farmers don’t attempt to cure hams for the growing market for charcuterie.)

Tapas Brindisa on the edge of Borough Market does great little tapas that make a delicious tasting lunch, little squid and octopus dishes, fried pimento de padrou sprinkled with crunchy sea salt, crisp croquettes, deep fried goats cheese, salted anchovies with roasted vegetables on toasted garlic bread, crispy pork belly, sautéed chicken livers…

Then, on to Broadway market in Hackney to Claire Ptak’s stall to taste her iconic cupcakes. This market has an eclectic mix of food and craft. One stall roasts a whole pig on the spit each week and lots of chickens. Close by is another fascinating area for food lovers called Brick Lane, nicknamed the “Curry Mile”. Brick Lane Market is pure East London, which means Jewish Bagel Shops, Bangladeshi Curry Houses, Indian Sari Silks and never enough time to explore everything.

Hackney City Farm is close by an oasis for city children to see chickens, free range pigs, sheep, and donkeys and to learn how to grow vegetables and herbs.

Ottolenghi in Islington is a must, the quality of the salads and baking just knocks your socks off. Beautiful little passion fruit tarts topped with burnished soft meringue and crunchy chocolate, rose petal cupcakes and on and on. It’s just around the corner from the Financier Centre.

Dinner was at Moro in Exmouth Market, Sam and Sam Clarke and their team love to cook Spanish and Moroccan food – you’ll need to book and build in enough time to have a before dinner cocktail at Cafe Kick across the road, they make the best Mojitos and have an extensive list of cocktails.

For those who love fine hand made chocolates there are many options in London, but we visited the shop of young chocolatier Paul A Young in Camden Passage in Islington whose salted caramels alone are worth making a detour for.

Other places of interest for a foodie week-end are Marleybourne Market on Sunday morning. People queue to buy unpasteurised milk and beautiful home grown vegetables, cheese and meats from The Ginger Pig butcher shop on Moxon Street where they bake pork pies in the Aga. Here you can buy dry cured rare breed meat reared on the Yorkshire Moors. Well aged cuts are lined up on the top of the counter and the customer can choose meat that has been hung for two, three, four or five weeks and pay accordingly. It was a joy to see well hung meat and not a drop of sweet and sour sauce in sight.

Patricia Michelson’s iconic cheese shop La Fromagerie with its temperature and humidity controlled cheese rooms is next door. It’s also a market place of fresh and well sourced dry goods. Have breakfast, lunch or supper in the Café and enjoy boiled egg and soldiers.

Finally we journeyed out to Richmond to have lunch in the Petersham Café where Australian chef Skye Gyngell weaves her magic using the best of British food at its seasonal peak. A memorable finale to our action packed two days.

I have chosen some recipes from ‘The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’ (Ebury Press) for you to try, enjoy!




Ottolenghi’s Grilled Mackerel with Green Olive, Celery and Raisin Salsa


All the seemingly contradictory flavours come together here surprisingly well to create a harmonious and balanced delicacy. Mackerel, probably our favourite fish, takes the sweetness and the saltiness wonderfully well, producing a light clean result.

This simple dish relies heavily on the freshness and quality of the ingredients. Mackerel, in particular, is incredible when fresh and inedible when not, so make sure you buy the best.

Serves 4

8 mackerel fillets, pin bones removed

2 tbsp olive oil

coarse sea salt and black pepper


125g celery stalks, thinly sliced

60g good-quality green olives, stoned and thinly sliced

3 tbsp 70g good quality plump raisins

1 ½ tbsp sherry vinegar

4 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp honey

15g flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped


Stir together all the salsa ingredients. Taste it; it should be sweet, sour and salty. Season with salt and pepper and leave to sit for at least 15 minutes for the flavours to evolve. (At this point, the salsa can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours, if necessary. Before serving allow it to some to room temperature, refresh with extra chopped parsley and adjust the seasoning.)

Set an oven grill to its highest setting. Toss the mackerel fillets gently with the oil and some salt and pepper. Lay the fillets on a flat oven tray, skin side up, and place under the hot grill for 3 – 4 minutes, or until just cooked.

Serve the fish hot or at room temperature, with a spoonful of salsa on top.


Ottolenghi’s Radish and Broad Bean Salad

This is an ideal brunch dish for a warm spring day. With the Tahini sauce and bread, it makes a modest meal in itself, without them, a colourful salad – light refreshing and wholesome.

Here we come to the thorny issue of shelling broad beans. Many Arab recipes call for cooking and eating broad beans with their pods. This is recommended for young beans, early in the season, but wouldn’t work for a fresh salad like this one. Going to the next level – skinning the beans – depends on how large the beans are, how thick their skin, and how hard you want to work. Most beans, especially the ones sold frozen are perfectly fine with the skin on. So if you prefer to skip the skinning stage, cook them for a minute longer. You’ll lose a bit of the light; ‘bouncy’ texture but save yourself a lot of time.

Serves 4

500g shelled broad beans fresh or frozen

350g small radishes

½ red onion

2 tblsp finely chopped coriander

30g preserved lemon, finely chopped

juice of 2 lemons

2 tblsp chopped flat leaf parsley

3 tblsp olive oil

1 tsp ground cumin

200ml green tahini sauce (see Fool Proof Food)

4 thick pita breads

salt and black pepper

Place the broad beans in a pan of boiling water and simmer for 1 – 2 minutes, depending on size. Drain through a large colander and rinse in plenty of cold water to refresh them. Remove the beans from their skins by gently squeezing each one with your finger tips.

Cut the radishes into 6 wedges each and mix with the broad beans, onion, coriander, preserved lemon, lemon juice, parsley, olive oil and cumin. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, pile a mound of salad in one corner of each serving plate, pour tahini sauce into a small bowl and stand it next to the salad. Set a pita bread next to them.

Ottolenghi’s Roast Aubergine with Saffron Yoghurt


This is probably the archetypal Ottolenghi salad: robust contrasting flavours, vibrant and vivacious colours, fresh herbs and nuts – laid out generously to reveal all of the dishes elements.

Serves 4

3 medium aubergines cut into slices 2cm thick, or into wedges

olive oil for brushing

2 tbsp toasted pine nuts

a handful of pomegranate seeds

20 basil leaves

coarse sea salt and black pepper

Saffron Yoghurt

a small pinch of saffron strands

3 tbsp hot water

180g Greek Yoghurt

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 ½ tbsp olive oil

For the sauce, infuse the saffron in hot water in a small bowl for 5 minutes. Pour the infusion into a bowl containing the yoghurt, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and some salt. Whisk well to get a smooth golden sauce. Taste and adjust the salt, if necessary, then chill. This sauce will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Preheat the oven to 220ºC / gas mark 7. Place the aubergine slices on a roasting tray, brush with plenty of olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 – 35 minutes, until the slices take on a beautiful light brown colour. Let them cool down. The aubergines will keep in the fridge for 3 days; just let come to room temperature before serving.

To serve, arrange the aubergine slices on a large plate, slightly overlapping. Drizzle the saffron yoghurt over them, sprinkle with the pine nuts and pomegranate seeds and lay the basil on top.

Ottolenghi’s Pistachio and rosewater Meringues


If you ask someone if they’ve heard of Ottolenghi, the answer is often, ‘Yes, I know, it’s the place with the meringues’. Though we learned how to make the giant meringues at Baker and Spice, it was the multiflavoured, multicoloured ones (proudly filling our windows) that became synonymous with Ottolenghi and earned them lots of imitators, both good and bad.

To make meringues you need a good freestanding electric mixer. Making them by hand is out of the question and using a handheld electric mixer is also not very practical, as the mixture needs a long whisking time and turns too hard for most weak machines.

makes 12 large meringues

600g caster sugar

300g free-range egg whites (about 10)

2 tsp rosewater

60g pistachio nuts, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Spread the sugar evenly over a large oven tray lined with baking parchment. Place the tray in the oven for about 8 minutes or until the sugar is hot (over 100°C). You should be able to see it beginning to dissolve at the edges.

While the sugar is in the oven, place the egg whites in the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When the sugar is almost ready, start the machine on high speed and let it work for a minute or so, until the whites just begin to froth up.

Carefully pour the sugar slowly on to the whisking whites. Once it has all been added, add the rosewater and continue whisking on high speed for 10 minutes or until the meringue is cold. At this point it should keep its shape when you lift a bit from the bowl and look homogenously silky (you can now taste the mixture and fold in some more rosewater if you want a more distinctive rose flavour).

Turn down the oven temperature to 110°C/Gas Mark ¼. To shape the meringues, line a baking tray (or 2, depending on their size) with baking parchment, sticking it firmly to the tray with a bit of meringue. Spread the pistachios over a flat plate.

Have ready 2 large kitchen spoons. Use one of them to scoop up a big dollop of meringue, the size of a medium apple, then use the other spoon to scrape it off on to the plate of pistachios. Roll the meringue so it is covered with nuts on one side and then gently place it on the lined baking tray. Repeat to make more meringues, spacing them well apart on the tray. Remember, the meringues will almost double in size in the oven.

Place in the preheated oven 110ËšC and leave there for about hours. Check if they are done by lifting them from the tray and gently prodding to make sure the outside is completely firm, whilst the centre is still a little soft. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. The meringues will keep in a dry place, at room temperature, for quite a few days.


Fool Proof Food

Ottolenghi’s Green Tahini Sauce

150ml tahini paste

80ml lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, crushed

½ tspn salt

30g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped if making by hand

In a bowl thoroughly whisk the tahini, water, lemon juice, garlic and salt together. The mixture should be creamy and smooth. If it is too thick, add more water. Stir in the chopped parsley, then taste and add more salt if needed.


Pour left over smoothie mixture, apple juice, or left over drinking chocolate into ice lolly moulds to freeze for the children to enjoy on a hot Summers day.


Glebe House Restaurant

Chef Gillian Hegarty is back in the kitchen at Glebe House, in Baltimore West Cork, after a winter working in Café Paradiso in Cork city. The restaurant opening times are Wednesday to Saturday 7:00pm to 10:00pm and Wednesday to Sunday for breakfast and lunch. There are some summer gigs booked for the Amphitheater including the return of ‘The Hothouse Flowers’ on August 3rd. To book the restaurant phone or phone (021) 4646 785.

028 20232 and visit the website too…


Summer Cheese School

Spend the day learning the art of cheese making on the farm at Corleggy in County Cavan. Silke Cropp will teach this course – she has been making goat, cow and sheep cheese for years. Full day course including lunch with a glass of wine and a kilogram of the cheese you make yourself to take home costs €150.00. There are three dates with places available Sunday 9th, Sunday 16th and Sunday 23rd August 2009. Contact Silke Cropp on 049 9522930


Slow Food East Cork Mackerel Fishing Trip

Learn how to catch, gut, fillet and cook this delicious and sustainable fish. This event has limited places and is weather permitting €35.00 Slow Food Members €40.00 Non-Members. Prompt departure from Ballycotton Harbour at 5:30pm, Wednesday

17th June 2009. To book email


Thrifty Tip


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