ArchiveNovember 2010

A Cut Above the Rest – Pat Whelan

From New York to London butchery classes are over subscribed – most recently a two day butchery course organised by Teagaśc at Ashtown also had a waiting list.
It illustrates the exciting and fundamental changes at grass roots level and the craving for real food and almost forgotten flavours and experiences. A couple of weeks ago Ear to the Ground RTE1 – presenter Ella McSweeney butchered the two rare breed pigs she reared in her suburban garden and then proceeded with the help of 3rd generation butcher Ed Hicks to use all the miscellaneous delicious bits that normally end up in pet food.
In East Cork at least nine National Schools have edible school gardens and a chicken coop with a couple of hens so the children can learn how to look after poultry. At last there is an appreciation of the importance of a degree of self sufficiency. A growing number of parents are concerned about how disconnected even country children are from the reality of how their food is produced. It’s ever more important to bring children to visit farms, to shop at farmers markets and indeed to grow and rear some food yourself. Otherwise children reckon chips come from the freezer cabinet, milk comes out of plastic bottles and meat comes in neat little polystyrene trays from the supermarket. Mind you, butchers shops are almost as sanitised nowadays, few have a carcass or even a leg of lamb hanging any more, much of the meat is ready prepared, stuffed marinated or tossed in sweet and sour sauce so its barely recognisable – in long well-lit chill cabinets.
I am and always have been a staunch supporter of the traditional family butcher, I seek out butchers who, preferably have their own farm and abattoir and still possess the entire butchers craft, from being able to judge the condition of an animal in the field to the skill of humane slaughter, dry ageing and finally the skill of butchery. Curious customers can have chats about the breed and the feed and how the animal is raised while they wait for the order to be prepared. In Baden-Württemberg the local butcher doles out small glasses of the local wine to customers while they queue which helps to create a wonderfully convivial atmosphere and keeps everyone chatting amiably. Another iconic butcher called Dario Cecchini at Antica Macelleria Cecchini in Panzano in Chianti recites Dante and plays operatic arias for his customers while he prepares the beautiful Chianina beef he sells.
Here in Ireland we are fortunate to still have over 850 family butchers (500 of those are Craft Butchers of Ireland members) and an increasing number “are finding their voice”
Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers in Clonmel in Co Tipperary is well known for his enthusiasm and the quality of his meat. He comes from a long line of Tipperary farmers and his family have been butchers since 1960. As soon as he could toddle about he went with his dad to ‘check the cattle’. Living over the shop meant family life and business were enmeshed and the skills were learned and absorbed effortlessly as he listened to the chat and enjoyed the craic and absorbed the entrepreneurial spirit of his parents. He was hooked from an early age and learned the trade by accompanying his mother on her delivery round. As soon as he was himself old enough, he pedalled the butcher’s bike with the wicker basket in front to deliver the weekly meat to the convent and the priest.
Nowadays it’s all come full circle and he makes full use of the latest technology, Pat is a regular tweeter – – and now has a significant online meat business that guarantees delivery within 24 hours.
Pat’s family are long time Aberdeen Angus breeders but his quest for even better meat was influenced by a trip to Japan, he’s been experimenting with a Wagyu cross, which mingle with Piedmont and Hereford in the rich pastures of his 200 acre Tipperary farm.
Pat is also quite rightly passionate about creating stress free conditions for slaughter in his own on-farm abattoir.
Pork for his butcher shop is sourced from TJ Crowe another Tipperary butcher, well known to food lovers. Both were founder members in 2007 of Tipperary Food Producers Network. The latter is a collective of 30 artisan producers who showcase their local food each year with a memorable summer banquet called the Long Table Dinner.
The concept of sustainable local economies is of paramount importance to Pat and his colleagues. Can’t imagine how he managed to find time to write a book, An Irish Butcher Shop – published by The Collins Press – in the midst of it all – a terrific eclectic collection of traditional and contemporary recipes. I’ve chosen some delicious comforting recipes from Pat Whelan’s book using less expensive cuts of meat.
Pat was awarded the Good Food Ireland Enterprise and Innovation Award on November 15th 2010.
James Whelan Butchers, Oakville Shopping Centre, Clonmel, Co Tipperary
+353 52 22927 / / 

Pat Whelan’s Osso Bucco

Serves 6

8 slices beef shin, cut at least 2.5 cm/1 inch thick
plain flour seasoned with salt and pepper
85 g/3 oz butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
11⁄4 cups (10 fl oz)  white wine
1 x 220 g/8 oz can of chopped tomatoes
11⁄4 cups (10 fl oz) chicken stock
3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Coat the beef shins well with the flour. In a heavy-based pan melt the butter and add the oil. When the oil and butter are very hot, fry the beef until browned all over.
Remove the beef to a warmed plate and add the onion, celery, carrots and half the garlic. Cook until soft and aromatic. Return the beef to the pan and add the wine.
Cook uncovered for 15 minutes or so. Add the tomatoes and stock, then cover with a close-fitting lid and simmer for 11⁄2–2 hours.
Mix together the parsley, lemon zest and remaining garlic and stir in before serving.

Pat Whelan’s Braised Oxtail

Serves 6

50 g/2 oz plain flour seasoned with salt and pepper
4 oxtails, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil or 30 g/1 oz butter
(or combination of both)
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 thick bacon rashers, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
570 ml/20 fl oz red wine
1 litre/35 fl oz beef stock
bouquet garni of a bay leaf, a sprig of thyme, a sprig of parsley and a sprig of
rosemary, tied together
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup parsley, finely chopped

The casserole can be cooked on the stove top or in the oven. If you are cooking it in the oven, preheat it to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Put the seasoned flour into a plastic bag and add the oxtail pieces. Shake it well to coat the meat. Heat the oil or butter in a large heavy-based casserole and add the oxtail pieces in small batches. As each batch is browned, remove to a warmed plate with a slotted spoon and repeat until all the meat has been sealed. Add a little more oil if necessary and add the onions and cook until golden. Add the bacon and garlic and cook for 2–3 minutes. Return the meat to the casserole, pour in the wine and simmer until the liquid has reduced by about a third. Add the stock and bouquet garni to the pot and cover. Simmer gently on the stove or cook in the oven for about 2 hours. At this point add the carrots, celery and tomato paste and continue to cook for a further 2 hours or so, until the meat falls off the bone. Adjust the seasoning and sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with mashed potatoes and baked parsnips.

Pat Whelan’s Beef Stew with Dumplings

Serves 6

4 tablespoons plain flour seasoned with salt and pepper
1 kg/2 lb 4 oz braising steak, cut into 2.5 cm/1 inch cubes
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 turnip, peeled and cut into cubes
570 ml/20 fl oz beef stock
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme


175 g/6 oz plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
1⁄2 cup milk

Put the seasoned flour in a plastic bag, add the beef cubes and toss to coat.
Heat the oil over a moderate heat in a large saucepan or flameproof casserole dish and add the beef cubes. Brown well on all sides. This should be done in batches, removing the meat from the pan to a warmed plate until all the meat is browned. Add the onions and cook until they start to turn translucent and add the rest of the vegetables, stirring frequently to brown. Now return the beef to the pan and add the stock, bay leaves and thyme. Bring to the boil, stirring well. Cover tightly and reduce heat to as low as possible. Simmer for at least 2 hours.
To make the dumplings, sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and add the oil and milk. Stir until the dry ingredients are incorporated and the mixture resembles a batter. Mould the dumplings into small balls. Approximately 15–20 minutes before serving, turn up the heat, bring to the boil and drop the dumplings on to the surface of the stew. If the stew is being cooked in the oven, allow around 30 minutes for the dumplings to cook.

Pat Whelan’s Pork Spare Ribs

Serves 4

1 cup (8fl oz) soy sauce
3⁄4 cup brown sugar
1⁄4 cup (2fl oz) balsamic vinegar
1⁄4 cup (2fl oz) tomato paste
1⁄4 cup (2fl oz) orange juice
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon hot chilli powder
1⁄2 teaspoon cumin powder
pork spare ribs (allow 4 for each person)

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Combine all the ingredients except the pork and mix well. Heat in a saucepan, stirring constantly until it boils. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Lay the ribs in a flat dish, cover with the marinade and refrigerate for several hours minimum. Reserve any extra sauce.
Pour any remaining marinade over the ribs and bake for 45 minutes. Serve when cooled to room temperature.

Pat Whelan’s Kashmiri Lamb Curry

Serves 6

300 g/10 oz natural yoghurt
85 g/3 oz skinned almonds, chopped
2 teaspoons medium curry powder
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 kg/2 lb 4 oz lamb, diced into 2.5 cm/1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
juice of half a lemon
1 x 400 g/14 oz can of chopped tomatoes
300 ml/10 fl oz water
110 g/4 oz raisins
large handful of fresh coriander, chopped

In a large mixing bowl combine the yoghurt, almonds, curry powder, ginger, garlic and salt, stirring to mix well. Add the lamb to the yoghurt mixture, covering the meat well.  (You could leave this to marinate in the fridge overnight or for a few hours before cooking.)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onions with the bay leaves until golden brown, constantly moving them around the pan. Add the meat and yoghurt mixture to the pan and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add the chilli, lemon juice and tomatoes to the mixture in the pan and stir-fry for another 5 minutes. Add the water, cover and leave to simmer over a gentle heat for 60 minutes.
Add the raisins and most of the coriander and turn up the heat. Stir until the sauce has thickened. Garnish with the remaining coriander and serve with rice.
Fool Proof Food

Pat Whelan’s Spicy Lamb Meatballs

Serves 6

1 large potato, peeled and grated
1 large onion, peeled and grated
500 g/1 lb lamb, minced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (optional)
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
1 cup fresh herbs such as parsley, coriander, tarragon and mint
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 cup (4 fl oz) olive oil

Rinse the grated potato in cold water and with your hands squeeze out all the moisture. Place all the ingredients except the oil into a bowl and mix until well combined. Form the mixture into small balls and flatten them into pattie shapes. Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the meatballs in batches for about 5 minutes on each side, turning carefully.
Food Framed is a Charitable Silent Auction of Handwritten Recipes and Documents from some of the world’s greatest chefs and food writers, Richard Corrigan, Gary Rhodes, Paul Flynn, Ken Hom, Thomas Keller from the French Laundry in San Francisco, Ferran Adria from El Buli in Spain, Lloyd Grossman, Darina Allen and Ainslie Harriet. The documents will be on display from 11am to 4pm Lismore Castle Arts, Lismore, Co Waterford on Saturday December 4th 2010. You can also bid by email, contact Ken Madden 086 1712813 /  Proceeds to go to Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.

The winner of the Associated Craft Butchers of Ireland’s National Spiced Beef Competition on Friday 12th November was Jerry O’Leary from O’Leary Family Butchers, The Square Millstreet, Co Cork. Jerry’s spiced beef is made from a recipe that has been in the O’Leary family for over 80 years – 029 -701 46 – 

Mahon Point Farmers Market in Cork took home the Best Farmer’s Market Award at the recent Good Food Ireland awards,  The shortlist of nominees included Dungarvan Farmers Market, Naas Farmers Market, Kinsale Farmers Market – and Midleton Farmers Market. Mahon Point Farmers Market – every Thursday  10am to 2pm.

Ballymaloe Cookery School 2011 Course Schedule is online

To meet the growing demand from those who would like to have the choice to buy unpasteurised milk, David Tiernan’s milk is available from Sheridans Cheesemongers in Dublin, South Anne Street and Carnacross in Co Meath. Unpasteurised organic Jersey milk is also available from the Farm Shop at Ballymaloe Cookery School, Shanagarry, Co Cork daily – 021 4646785 

Those of you who crave a delicious black pudding made in the traditional way from fresh pigs’ blood should look out for Hugh Maguire’s butcher shop in Navan. I also found his white pudding soft and delicious. Hugh also makes a range of homemade sausages – we fought over the Bratwurst and his well aged T Bone steak – 01-8499919 –

Whoopie Pies

It’s just possible that Whoopie Pies may be the ‘next cupcake’- ‘Homey’ to look at, totally scrumptious to eat but mercifully less luscious icing than a cupcake – so what are they? Well let’s ask the experts – According to Claire Ptak of Violet Cakes in East London, who has just written a book on the subject,  ‘a whoopie is not a cookie, it’s not a typical cake, and it’s definitely not a pie. Whoopie Pies hail from the Amish communities of the US. School children and farmers in Pennsylvania Amish are said to have responded to finding these special treats in their lunch boxes with a resounding ‘Whoopie!’  They exist in a scrumptious parallel universe somewhere between cupcakes and ice cream sandwiches’.

I was longing to find some good recipes. Claire Ptak has written the first cook book I’ve come across on the Whoopie Pies. It comes with Jamie Oliver’s wholehearted endorsement “an absolutely gorgeous book by my favourite cake maker in the whole world”.

Claire has quite a following. If you pop over to London you’ll find her behind her Violet Cake stall at the Broadway Market in Hackney on Saturday morning selling sweet and savoury treats. There will probably be a queue three to six deep, from local kids to Stella McCartney and Keira Knightly. She has also opened a little Violet café and cake shop on nearby Wilton Way which sells her famous American style cupcakes.

Claire, originally from California has quite a pedigree, she worked as a pastry cook and eventually a pastry chef for Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley before moving to London. She also cooks occasional Secret Suppers in her East London kitchen, one of the growing number of sought after pop-up restaurants in the London area. Her friends and devotees follow eagerly on Twitter and Facebook.

Back to the Whoopie Pie. It’s not a cookie or a typical cake and despite the name definitely not a pie. In fact no one seems to be able to explain why it’s called a whoopie pie, maybe it’s just because it has a rhythmic ring to it. It’s more like a little cake sandwich with the icing in between.

Once you get hooked you’ll find that you can adapt lots of your own recipes but the original is all American. Whoopies originated in the US in the 1920’s, although no one seems to know precisely where.

Typically whoopee pies are made in 10cm (4 inch) rounds but when I ate a couple of those recently I was guilt ridden for the rest of the day. Fortunately Claire gives instructions for smaller sized ones, perfect for children’s tiny fingers or for me when I crave just a little treat.

In this cute little Whoopie bakers bible, Claire gives recipes for over 60 variations on the theme from chocolate, coconut, kirch, lemon, peanut butter and rose pistachio to special flavours like Christmas Cake Whoopie, Easter Egg whoopie and many more.  She also included her favourite brownie recipe worth the price of the book alone.  Serve with chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream and cherries in syrup; it will get you anything you want!

The Whoopie Pie Book, Published by Square Peg 2010

Claire Ptak


47 Wilton Way

E83 ED London

Broadway Market

E8 London

Claire Ptak’s Chocolate Whoopie with Fluffy Marshmallow Filling

The whoopie pie that started it all: moist, spongy, dark chocolate cake sandwiched around a fluffy marshmallow centre. Once you taste it, you’ll understand what all the fuss is about.

Filling suggestion: Fluffy Marshmallow (see recipe)

Makes about 9 large or 24 mini whoopie pies

175g (6oz/1 1/2 cups) plain flour

100g (3 1/2 oz) unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

125g (4 1/2 oz/generous 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

200g (7oz/scant 1 cup) sugar

1 large egg

225ml (8fl oz/1 cup) buttermilk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°/Gas Mark 4.

Line 2 trays with baking paper.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Stir in the salt and set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream the softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, using an electric hand whisk or a freestanding mixer fitted with the flat beater. Add the egg and mix well. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and beat until well combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients in 2 batches, mixing until just incorporated. Chill for 30 minutes before using.

Drop 18 large or 48 small scoops of batter, about 5cm (2 inches) apart, onto the prepared baking trays. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10 – 12 minutes for large whoopies or 8 – 10 minutes for mini whoopies, until the cakes are left with a slight impression when touched with a finger.

Remove from the oven to a wire rack and cool completely.

To Assemble

Spread or pipe a generous scoop of Fluffy Marshmallow filling onto the flat surface of a cooled whoopee. Top with another whoopee to make a sandwich and serve.

Fluffy Marshmallow Filling

Makes enough to fill about 9 large or 24 mini whoopie pies

3 egg whites

150g (5 oz/generous 1/2 cup) caster sugar

2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) golden syrup

pinch salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Weigh all the ingredients into a heatproof bowl (the stainless steel bowl of freestanding mixers is ideal) and place the bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Whisk continuously by hand until the sugar as dissolved and the mixture is frothy and slightly opaque (about 10 – 15 minutes).

Remove from the heat and whip the mixture on high speed in a freestanding mixer until it is white and thick and holds its shape.

Use straight away.

Claire Ptak’s Lemon Cream Whoopie with Lemon Curd Cream

Lemon imparts a lovely fresh flavour to cakes and puddings. It’s worth seeking out good-quality lemons. The large knobbly ones grown on the Amalfi coast of Italy are exceptional as are the Californian Meyer lemons.

Filling suggestion: Lemon Curd Cream (see recipe)

300g (10oz/2 1/2 cups) plain flour

1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

125g (4 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, softened

200g (7oz) caster sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

100ml (3 1/2 fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) whole milk

50 ml (2fl oz/1/4 cup) lemon juice

zest of 2 medium lemons

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

Line 2 trays with baking paper.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Stir in the salt and set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream the softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, using an electric hand whisk or a freestanding mixer fitted with the flat beater. Add the egg and mix well. In a jug combine the vanilla, milk and lemon juice. Add this to the butter mixture and mix well. Add the dry ingredients, mixing until just incorporated. Finally, fold in the lemon zest. Chill for 30 minutes.

Drop 18 large or 48 small scoops of batter, about 5cm apart, onto the prepared baking trays. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10 – 12 minutes for large whoopies or 8 – 10 minutes for mini whoopies, until the cakes are left with a slight impression when touched with a finger.

Remove from the oven to a wire rack and cool completely.

To Assemble

Spread a generous scoop of Lemon Curd Cream on the flat surface of a cooled whoopie. Top with another whoopie to make a sandwich and serve.

Lemon Curd Cream

Makes enough to fill about 9 large or 24 mini whoopie pies.

100g (3 1/2 oz/scant 1/2 cup) caster sugar

pinch of salt

zest and juice of 2 medium lemons

2 egg yolks

125g (4 1/2 oz/generous 1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

50ml (2fl oz/1/4 cup) double cream

Put the sugar, salt, lemon zest and juice and egg yolks in a medium sized, heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and warm gently through, whisking constantly. Add the butter, a few cubes at a time, stirring constantly until all the butter is incorporated and the mixture is smooth and thick. Do not overheat or the eggs will scramble. Strain to remove the zest and any eggy bits. Cover wit Clingfilm, pressing it down on the surface of the custard. Leave to cool for 20 minutes, then chill for 2 hours before using.

The lemon curd will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. When ready to use, whip the double cream and fold into the chilled custard.

Rose Pistachio Whoopie

The exotic flavours of delicate rose water, tender pistachios and sweet cherry liqueur might seem strange in a whoopie pie, but the evocation of the taste and texture of soft nougat is lovely here.

Filling suggestion: Kirsch Swiss Buttercream

Glaze suggestion: Rose Water Icing

Makes about 9 large or 24 mini whoopie pies

300g (10 oz/2½ cups) plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ tsp salt

125g (4½ oz) unsalted butter, softened

200g (7 oz) castor sugar

1 large egg

½ tsp rose water

200ml (7 fl oz/1/3 pint) buttermilk

100g (3½ oz) pistachios, finely chopped or ground, plus extra for sprinkling

100g (3½ oz) ground almonds

crushed candied rose petals, for garnishing

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line 2 trays with baking paper.

In a bowl, sift together the flour and bicarbonate of soda. Stir in the salt and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, using an electric hand whisk or a freestanding mixer fitted with the flat beater. Add the egg and mix well. Measure the rose water and buttermilk into a jug and then add half of this to the butter mixture. Slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing until just incorporated. Add the remaining buttermilk mixture until well combined and then fold in the ground nuts. Chill for 30 minutes.

Drop 18 large or 48 small scoops of batter, about 5cm apart, onto the prepared baking trays. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10–12 minutes for large whoopies or 8–10 minutes for mini whoopies, until the cakes are left with a slight impression when touched with a finger.

Remove from the oven to a wire rack and cool completely.

To assemble:

Pipe or spread a generous scoop of Kirsch Swiss Buttercream on the flat surface of a cooled whoopie. Top with another whoopie and drizzle with Rose Water Icing. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped pistachios and some crushed candied rose petals.

Kirsch Swiss Buttercream

Makes enough to fill about 9 large or 24 mini whoopie pies

225g (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened

3 large egg whites

100g (3½ oz) caster sugar

1 tbsp golden syrup

1 tbsp kirsch cherry liqueur

In a bowl, beat the butter until fluffy, using an electric hand whisk or a freestanding mixer fitted with the flat beater, set aside. In the metal bowl of a freestanding mixer, combine the 3 large egg whites with the sugar and golden syrup. Place over a saucepan of barely simmering water and whisk continuously by hand until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is frothy and slightly opaque (10–15 minutes).

Transfer the bowl of egg whites to the freestanding mixer, add the kirsch and whisk until fluffy and cooled (about 10 minutes). Once cool, start adding the creamed butter in batches, whisking well after each addition. The mixture will curdle but then come back together again. Switch to the flat beater and beat for 3 minutes more.

Use right away or store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature and beat with a flat beater before using.

Rosewater Icing

Makes enough to cover about 9 large or 24 mini whoopie pies

200g (7 oz)  icing sugar

2 tsp rose water

Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl and then whisk in the rose water until smooth. If you prefer a thicker consistency spread on top of the whoopie, add slightly more icing sugar to adjust.

Oatmeal Cookie Whoopie

All the flavour of an oatmeal cookie but with a soft whoopie texture, this makes a great summer treat when sandwiched with vanilla ice cream and frozen, or you can fill with strawberry buttercream.

Filling suggestion: Good-quality vanilla ice cream or Strawberry Buttercream

Makes 24 bite-sized ice cream whoopie sandwiches

180g (6½ oz) plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp salt

225g (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened

200g (7 oz) light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

200g (7 oz) jumbo oats

75g (3 oz) sultanas (optional)

good-quality vanilla ice cream, for the filling

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line 2 trays with baking paper.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon. Stir in the salt and set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and light brown sugar until light and fluffy, using an electric hand whisk or a freestanding mixer fitted with the flat beater. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla, mixing well. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add the oats and sultanas and mix until incorporated. Chill for 30 minutes

Drop 48 small scoops of batter, about 5cm apart, onto the prepared trays. Bake in the middle of the oven for 8–10 minutes, until the cakes are left with a slight impression when touched with a finger.

Remove from the oven to a wire rack and cool completely.

To assemble:

Spread a generous scoop of slightly softened vanilla ice cream on the flat surface of a cooled whoopie. Top with another whoopie, gently press together and place in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.

Strawberry Buttercream

50 ml (2 fl oz) unstrained strawberry purée (about 80 g unhulled strawberries)

90 g (3¾ oz) soft butter

500-700 g (18 oz-1½ lb) icing sugar, sifted

½ tsp pure vanilla extract

½ tsp lemon juice

Rinse and hull the strawberries, then puree them in a food processor. In a bowl, cream together the butter and 300 g icing sugar with an electric hand whisk or on a low speed in a freestanding mixer fitted with the flat beater.  Gradually add the vanilla, lemon juice and strawberry puree.  Gradually mix in another 200 g icing sugar on a low speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture has a light and fluffy texture and the sugar has dissolved.  Add more sugar if the mixture seems too soft (the amount needed varies according to the air temperature and acidity to the fruit). Use right away or store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 7 days. Bring it to room temperature before using and beat on a low speed to make it creamy again.

Foolproof Food

Chocolate Buttercream Icing

8ozs (225g) soft butter

1 lb (450g) icing sugar, sieved

1 tablespoon coca powder, sieved

1 tablespoon hot water

Cream the butter and add the icing sugar.  Mix the cocoa powder and hot water together and beat into the mixture.  Use as a filling for biscuits or cake.


Another good news story – O’ Connells restaurant is back! Tom O’ Connell has reopened his restaurant at 133-135 Morehampton Road, Donnybrook – formerly the famous Madigans pub. As the news spreads fans are flocking back to relive the taste of the simple artisan foods Tom features on his menu. This time Lorcan Cribbin formerly of Bang heads up the kitchen team and cooks fresh fish and dry aged Irish meats on the traditional Catalonian Chargrill now all the rage in London too. 01 665 5940

Tara Bán Goat Cheddar – Terrific to meet enthusiastic young farmers keen to add value to their produce. Diarmaid Gryson from Tara in Co Meath recently won Young Innovator of the Year in the FBD Macra Na Feirme Awards and a Gold Medal in the Best New Cheese category judged by Juliet Harbutt at the British Cheese Awards in Cardiff. Tara Bán Goat Cheddar made from the milk herd of 140 goats. The family also supply delicious unhomogenised goat milk and are experimenting with ice cream and yoghurt. Telephone: 046 902 6817. They are available from local Farmers Markets and some Supervalu shops in Co Meath.

Don’t miss Cork Free Choice Consumer Group Next Meeting. Eoin O’Mahony, well known butcher of the English Market will demonstrate and discuss the traditional and lesser known cuts of lamb and beef at the Crawford Gallery Café, Emmet Place on Thursday November 25th at 7.30pm. Entrance €6.00 including tea and coffee.

Sushi made Simple – at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Wednesday November 24th 2010. Shermin Mustafa will take the mystery out of sushi making.  She tells us which rice to buy, the secret of cooking it perfectly and then show us how to make 7 or 8 different types of sushi – a delicious healthy way to entertain which won’t break the bank. Booking Essential telephone 021 4646 785.

Pathways to Growth

Ireland’s future is unquestionably in food production. At long last we are recognising the fact that Ireland is in an enviable position in terms of natural resources – we are an island nation on the edge of Europe with 400 million affluent consumers on our doorstep. We’ve got acres of fertile soil, plenty of water, a long growing season, a thriving artisan and specialist food production industry, plus a green clean image.

The Harvard Business School report commissioned by Bord Bia on ‘Pathways to Growth’ pointed all this out and said: “Ireland has an enviable agricultural situation that almost every other country would kill for. At present we export ninety percent of our beef and dairy products much of which is produced on grass which is known to produce the correct balance of Omega 3 and 6.”

In the corridors of power, politicians are ‘tri ná ceile’ about what should be done to ease us out of the quagmire we find ourselves in but on the ground people are just getting on with it, milking their cows, cooking the dinner, going to work where they are fortunate enough to still have job…

A study by the New Economics Foundation in London found that every £10 spent at a local food business is worth £25 for the local area, compared with just £14 when the same amount is spent in a supermarket.  That is, a pound (or euro) spent locally generates more than twice as much income for the local economy. The farmer buys a drink at the local pub; the pub owner gets his car fixed at the local mechanic; the mechanic brings a suit to the local dry cleaners; the dry cleaner buys some bread, tarts and buns at the local bakery; the baker buys apples and eggs from the local Farmers Market. When these businesses are not owned locally, money leaves the community through every transaction.

Over the Halloween weekend I visited two Farmers Markets in Co Clare, one in Ennistymon and the other in Ballyvaughan. There was a terrific buzz and lively banter. Everyone had entered into the Halloween spirit; the stall holders had donned witches hats and wigs, painted their faces and decorated their stalls. Several home bakers produce reflected the festival. Scary looking cupcakes, spooky meringues and witches bread. In Ennistymon, Aloma McKay had made some witches fingers from puff pastry, a flaked almond at the tip made a very convincing looking finger nail – (they tasted like cheese straws).  She also does a great Indian curry meal and samosas having originally come from Goa in India.

Even though there were less than 15 stalls at this time of the year, one couldn’t but be impressed by the variety. Lots of local produce and home baking, I also bought a fine bag of turf and some Kerrs Pink potatoes that were grown in Ennistymon by Tom Kennedy.

Eva Hegarty Stephan had some traditional bacon, dry cured in the time honoured way and some home made sausages; close by Kate Conway was doing a roaring trade with a fine array of her gluten free baking. Mary Gray’s stall beside pumpkin carving also caught my eye. Mary’s attention to detail was evident in her delicious jams and baking and prettily wrapped hampers. She told me her cider cake is the best seller but I couldn’t resist a pot of lemon ginger marmalade and some sweet chilli jelly. Inside the hall adjoining the outdoor market Gillian O’Leary from Caherbannagh. sold her chocolate confections, pretty mendiants, hot-chocolate powder, truffles, chocolate lollipops…Gillian is a self confessed chocoholic. Her chocolate business grew out of her blog       

Kids were queuing up to paint scary masks or to have their faces painted. Close by Tom and Dorothy Barry gave seeds away for free and sold Pimenton de Padron, heirloom tomatoes, Jerusalem artichokes and some Blenheim apples – from their own orchard. They planted half an acre of old apples sixteen years ago. Aine Martin had set up a snug little cafe An Shibeen in the hall and was dispensing peppermint tea, barmbrack, brownies and Eve’s pudding. Noel

Ballyvaughan Market is also held from 10am to 2pm on a Saturday, again there were fewer stalls than in the summer time but still lots to choose from. Roshan Groves made the cutest witch bread. Deirdre Guillot sold chickweed and calendula salve and tarragon vinegar, so innovative, using wild and seasonal foods. Theresa Fahey who has seven fine sons, stood proudly behind a stall laden with homemade bagels, pretzels and winter vegetables – everything home grown on their farm. We bought local Burren Gold cheese, some French garlic and local apple juice. Stall holders told me how vital the market is to the community, both in economic and social terms “I make a few bob and it sure gets me out to meet a few people”

Philip Monks brought two fine bronze turkeys in a little pen to entice us to order ahead for Christmas, he also rears free range geese on his farm at Ballyvaughan, Co Clare.

Members of the Ballyvaughan Farmers Market and community have come together to write a cookbook. It is available from Quinn Crafts in Ballyvaughan, Fitzpatricks Supervalu in Ennistymon and Burren Smoke House in Lisdoonvarna. The proceeds will benefit the local community.

The Farmers Markets provide a badly needed income for many food producers and increasingly fishermen as well. They are unquestionably the best place to trial a product and do simple but effective market research.

We stayed at Gregans Castle near Ballyvaughan, County Clare, a second generation country house hotel on the edge of the Burren. They have recently been awarded three rosettes from AA and their Finnish Chef Mickael Viljanen also won the The Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Fine Dining and at The Food & Wine Magazine Awards in August 2009 Viljanen was rated 6th best chef in Ireland and the 2nd in the Munster region. Richly deserved awards for his exceptionally delicious food. Gregans Castle closes for the Winter but will reopen in February.

So this week some delicious recipes which use seasonal produce which would be good to make for the family or to sell at a Farmers Market.


Crab Apple or Bramley Apple Jelly

Making jellies is immensely rewarding. This is a brilliant master recipe that can be used for many combinations. A jelly bag is an advantage, but by no means essential. Years ago we strained the juice and pulp through an old cotton pillow and hung it on an upturned stool. A couple of thicknesses of muslin will also do the job. Place a stainless-steel or deep pottery bowl underneath to catch the juice. Tie with cotton string and hang from a sturdy cup-hook. If you can’t get enough crab apples, use a mixture of crab apples and windfall cooking apples, like Bramley’s Seedling, Grenadier or any other tart cooking apple.

Makes 2.7–3.2kg (6–7lb)

2.7kg (6lb) crab apples or windfall cooking apples

2.7 litres (5 3⁄4 pints) water

2 organic lemons

450g (1lb) granulated sugar to every 600ml (1 pint) of juice

Wash the apples, cut into quarters, but do not remove either the peel or core. Windfalls may be used, but be sure to cut out the bruised parts. Put the apples into a large stainless-steel saucepan with the water and the thinly pared zest of the lemons and cook for about 30 minutes until reduced to a pulp.

Pour the pulp into a jelly bag and allow to drip until all the juice has been extracted, usually overnight. (The pulp can later go to the hens or compost. The jelly bag or muslin may be washed and reused over and over again.)

Measure the juice into a preserving pan and allow 450g (1lb) sugar to each 600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) of juice. Warm the sugar in a low oven. Squeeze the lemons, strain the juice and add to the pan. Bring to the boil and add the warm sugar. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat and boil rapidly without stirring for about 8–10 minutes. Skim, test and pot immediately. Flavour with rose geranium, mint, sage or cloves as required (see below).

Crab Apple and Rose Geranium Jelly

Add 8–10 leaves to the apples initially and 5 more when boiling to a set.


Ballymaloe Green Tomato Chutney

When you grow your own tomatoes, you can’t bear to waste a single one.

This recipe will use up the end of the precious crop and add extra oomph to winter meals.

Makes 12 x 200ml (7fl oz) jars

1kg (2 1⁄4lb) cooking apples (Bramley Seedling or Grenadier), peeled and diced

450g (1lb) onions, chopped

1kg (2 1⁄4lb) green tomatoes, chopped (no need to peel)

350g (12oz) white sugar

350g (12oz) Demerara sugar

450g (1lb) sultanas

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons allspice

2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper

2 garlic cloves, coarsely crushed

1 tablespoon salt

900ml (1 1⁄2 pints) white wine vinegar


Put the apples and onions into a wide, stainless-steel saucepan and add the remaining ingredients. Stir well, bring to the boil and simmer gently, uncovered, for about 45

minutes or until reduced by more than half. Stir regularly, particularly toward the end of cooking.

Pot into sterilised jars and cover immediately with non-reactive lids.

Store in a dark, airy place and leave to mellow for at least two weeks before using.

Parsnip and Maple Syrup Cake


I found this recipe in a BBC Good Food magazine and it has since become a favourite of ours.

Serves 8

175g (6oz) butter, plus extra for greasing

250g (9oz) Demerara sugar

100ml (3 1/2fl oz) maple syrup

3 large organic eggs

250g (9oz) self-raising flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons mixed spice

250g (9oz) parsnips, peeled and grated

1 medium eating apple, peeled, cored and grated

50g (2oz) pecans, roughly chopped

zest and juice of 1 small orange

icing sugar, to serve



250g (9oz) mascarpone

3-4 tablespoons maple syrup

2 x 20cm (8 inches) deep sandwich tins

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

Grease the cake tins with a little butter and line the bases with baking parchment.

Melt the butter, sugar and maple syrup in a pan over a gentle heat, then cool slightly.  Whisk the eggs into the mixture, then stir into the flour, baking powder and mixed spiced, followed by the grated parsnip, apple, chopped pecans, orange zest and juice.  Divide between the two tins and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until the tops spring back when pressed lightly.

Cool the cakes slightly in the tins before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.  Just before serving, mix together the mascarpone and maple syrup.  Spread over one cake and sandwich with the other.  Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

Beetroot and Walnut Cake


Serves 10

3 free-range organic eggs

150ml (5 fl oz) sunflower oil

50g (2oz) soft brown sugar

150g (5oz) white or spelt flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

100g (4oz) beetroot, grated

60g (2 1/4 oz) sultanas

60g (2 1/4 oz) walnuts, coarsely chopped


175g (6oz) icing sugar

3-4 tablespoons water to bind

To Decorate

deep-fried beetroot (see below)

pumpkin seeds

1 loaf tin 13 x 20cm (5 x 8inch)

Preheat the oven to 180º/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

Line a loaf tin with a butter paper or baking parchment. 

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil and sugar until smooth.   Sift in the flour and baking powder, add a pinch of salt and gently mix into the egg mixture.  Stir in the grated beetroot, sultanas and walnuts.   Pour into the prepared tin.  Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack. 

Next make the icing.

Sieve the icing sugar, beat in the water gradually to a stiff consistency. Spread evenly over the cake, allow to drizzle down the sides, leave for 5 minutes and scatter with deep-fried beetroot (see below) and pumpkin seeds.

To Deep-fry Beetroot

Peel the outer skin off the beetroot.  Using a peeler, slice thin rings of the beetroot.  Allow to dry on kitchen paper for 20 minutes.  Deep-fry until crispy.

Fool Proof Food

Brambly Apple and Sweet Geranium Sauce

1lb (450g) cooking apples, (Brambley Seedling)

1-2 dessertspoons water

2oz (50g) sugar approx. depending on tartness of the apples

2-4 sweet geranium leaves

Peel, quarter and core the apples, cut pieces in two and put in a small stainless steel or cast iron saucepan, with the sugar, water and sweet geranium, cover and put over a low heat, as soon as the apple has broken down, stir and taste for sweetness.


Time to think about ordering your Christmas turkey or goose.

Philip Monks – Ballyvaughan, Co Clare – 086 8735565

Tom Clancy – Ballycotton – 086 1585709

Dan Ahearn – Midleton, Co Cork 021 4631058 or 086 8726358

Robbie Fitzsimmons – East Ferry, Co Cork 086 2056020 or 021 4651916

Ben and Charlotte Colchester – Urlingford, Co Kilkenny 056 88 31411

Jams, jellies, hampers Mary Gray, Ennistymon, Co Clare 087 76400629

Richard Graham-Leigh bakes his melt-in-the-mouth range of handmade Patisserie Régale Cookies from a small premises near Dunmanway in West Cork using local unsalted butter and free range eggs. His roasted hazelnut and white chocolate cookies, lavender shortbread, chocolate chip and oat and raisin cookies and apricot frangipane bars are available Urru in Bandon, Scallys in Clonakilty, Fields in Skibbereen, Fallon and Byrne in Dublin… Telephone 023 8855344


Game lovers shouldn’t miss George Gossip’s Game Cookery Weekend at Ballinderry Park, Kilconnell, Ballinasloe, Co Galway, Friday 19th to Sunday 21st November 2010. George is a witty, irreverent teacher and is the best game cook I know. To book your place, or to find out more about what is in store, contact – telephone +353 90 96 96796 or  


I hear good things about Dublin City Markets new lunch time market on Harcourt Street Monday to Friday.


Autumn Warming Food

The big challenge for many a busy mum and dad nowadays is to feed the family with wholesome nourishing food on a diminishing budget. Of course it is possible, but it takes more time, energy and determination to ferret out fresh local food in season. Vegetables are by far the most important food group yet we seem to be eating less and less. Food is invariably better, fresher, less expensive and much more delicious and nutritious when it is in season. However confusion still reigns, for younger people particularly, it is incredibly difficult to work out when an item is in season. There are few hints on the supermarket shelves, where most fruit and vegetables are available from January to December regardless of flavour.

Root vegetables, many brassicas and citrus are at their best during the Autumn and Winter season. Many of the roots are both filling and satisfying eg. Swede turnips, parsnips, carrots, celeriac, globe artichokes… Kale, Savoy cabbage, sprouting broccoli and other brassicas really give us that extra pep in our step. They are all easy to prepare and cook and are terrifically versatile. A fine cabbage can cost as little as one Euro, ridiculously cheap when you realise what time and effort goes into growing it. The brassica family of which cabbage is of course a member is full of goodness and is fantastically versatile. Fortunately, few people nowadays boil cabbage for hours on end as was the practice years ago – it’s so much fresher and tastier when thinly shredded across the grain and cooked in a little sizzling butter and with a couple of tablespoons of water to create steam. Good sea salt and freshly cracked pepper is really all that’s needed but I love to ring the changes with chopped parsley and chilli flakes, or a generous sprinkling of cumin seeds and lots of fresh thyme leaves and maybe a dash of cream added are also delicious and is particularly good with game.

Cabbage also makes a refreshing salad. If you are tiring of the ubiquitous coleslaw try a mayo free version with lots of mint leaves and a few raisins or dried cherries. My absolute favourite at present is Skye Gyngell’s Autumn Coleslaw with both red and white cabbage, carrots, raw beetroot, fennel, apples and hazelnuts.

Cabbage can also be stuffed whole or the leaves can be blanched and used to make delicious parcels with a variety of fillings – minced pork, beef, lentils well flavoured with herbs, spices, nam pla, sweet chilli sauce… For a more traditional filling and though not expensive meal, I like to stuff blanched cabbage leaves with little chunks of boiled bacon, champ and parsley sauce. Half a kilo of boiled streaky bacon will make about 8 fat cabbage parcels. Comforting, thrifty food at its best. The tougher outside leaves of the cabbage don’t need to be wasted either follow the example of the Chinese and make crispy seaweed. It makes a delicious nibble and a moreish snack. Even the stalk needn’t be wasted just chop finely or grate and add to a cabbage salad or coleslaw.

Here are a few lovely homely recipes that won’t break the bank but should have your family and friends licking their lips.


Bantry Irish Stew






Serves 6-8




3 lbs (1.3kg) gigot or rack chops from the shoulder of lamb not less than 2.5cm (1 inch thick)

1lb (450g) (8 medium or 12 baby carrots)

1lb (450g) (8 medium or 12 baby onions)

1lb (450g) Swede turnip, cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) cubes




225g (½ lb) Swede turnip and 225g (½ lb) parsnips

10 -12 potatoes, or more if you like

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 3/4 pints stock (lamb stock if possible) or water

1 sprig of thyme

1 tablespoon roux, optional








1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley

1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives




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




Trim off the excess fat from the chops. Remove the bones and cut into generous 1 inch (2.5cm) cubes, you should have a minimum of 2 1/2lbs (1.1kg) lamb. Set aside. Render down the fat on a gentle heat in a heavy pan (discard the rendered down pieces).




Peel the onions and scrape or thinly peel the carrots (if they are young you could leave some of the green stalk on the onion and carrot). Cut the carrots into large chunks, or if they are small leave them whole. If the onions are large, cut them into quarters through the root, if they are small they are best left whole. Peel the turnip and parsnips if using and cut into cubes




Toss the meat in the hot fat on the pan until it is slightly brown. Transfer the meat into a casserole (add the bones also but discard later). Quickly toss the onions and carrots in the fat. Build the meat, carrots, onions, turnip and parsnips up in layers in the casserole, carefully season each layer with freshly ground pepper and salt. De-glaze the pan with lamb stock and pour into the casserole. Peel the potatoes and lay them on top of the casserole, so they will steam while the stew cooks. Season the potatoes. Add a sprig of thyme, bring to the boil on top of the stove, cover with a butter wrapper or paper lid and the lid of the saucepan. Transfer to a moderate oven or allow to simmer on top of the stove until the stew is cooked, 1-1 1/2 hours approx, depending on whether the stew is being made with lamb or hogget. (If the potatoes are small, use twice as many and add half way through cooking)




When the stew is cooked, pour off the cooking liquid, de-grease and reheat in another saucepan. Discard the bones. Thicken slightly by whisking in a little roux. Check seasoning, then add chopped parsley and chives. Pour over the meat and vegetables. Bring the stew back up to boiling point and serve from the pot, in a large pottery dish or in individual bowls.


Skye Gyngell’s Autumn Coleslaw

Serves 8 (as a main course)

This strong, crunchy, earthbound salad comprises everything that is good about autumn – apples, cobnuts, red cabbage and beetroot. My last meal on Earth would have to be some sort of salad…this might just be it! Pretty pink and white candy-striped beetroot looks amazing, but the purple or golden variety will taste just as good. If you can’t find cobnuts, use hazelnuts instead.

200g/7oz cobnuts or fresh hazelnuts, shelled and very roughly chopped

1 pomegranate, quartered

¼ red cabbage, cored OR half red and half white cabbage

1 fennel bulb

4 raw beetroot, washed

3 carrots, peeled

4 dessert apples (preferably Cox’s Orange Pippins)

small bunch tarragon leaves only, finely chopped

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

juice ½ lemon or to taste

For the Dressing

2 organic free-range egg yolks

1 tbsp honey

1 ½ tsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp cream

1 tbsp cider vinegar

1 tsp pomegranate molasses (optional)

200ml/7fl oz mild olive oil

Heat oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Spread the cobnuts or hazelnuts on a baking tray and gently toast them in the oven for 3-4 mins. Set aside to cool. Carefully extract the seeds from the pomegranate avoiding the bitter membrane. Set aside.

Finely slice the red cabbage into thin ribbons. Cut off the base of the fennel bulb, remove the tough outer layer, then slice very finely. Cut the beetroot into very thin rounds. Shave the carrots into long ribbons, using a swivel vegetable peeler. Quarter and core the apple, leaving the skin on, then slice thinly.

Place the red cabbage, fennel, beetroot, carrots, apples and chopped tarragon in a bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, drizzle over the extra virgin olive oil and squeeze over the lemon juice. Toss gently together with your hands and set aside while you make the dressing.

For the dressing, put the egg yolks into a bowl. Add the honey, mustard, cream, cider vinegar and pomegranate molasses (if using) and whisk together to combine. Season with a little salt and pepper, then pour in the olive oil in a slow stream, whisking as you do so emulsify. It should have the consistency of a very loose mayonnaise. Divide the salad among individual plates, piling it high. Drizzle over the dressing and scatter the pomegranate seeds and cobnuts around the plate to serve.

Warm Salad of Jerusalem Artichokes with Hazelnut Oil Dressing



White turnips and kohlrabi are also delicious cooked and served in this way. This recipe provides a perfect first course for a winter dinner party, and raises the Jerusalem artichoke to a more sophisticated level. Serves 4

350g (12oz) Jerusalem artichokes, very carefully peeled to a smooth shape

7g (1⁄4oz) butter

salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Hazelnut Oil Dressing

3 tablespoons hazelnut oil

11⁄2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1⁄4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar to taste

To Serve

a few oakleaf lettuce leaves

25g (1oz) hazelnuts, toasted and sliced

sprigs of chervil, for garnish

Cut the artichokes into 1cm (1⁄2in) slices. Bring 125ml (4fl oz) of water and the butter to the boil in a heavy saucepan and add the artichokes. Season. Cover and cook gently until the artichokes are almost cooked. Turn off the heat and leave in the covered saucepan until they are almost tender. Test with a skewer at regular intervals; they usually take about 15 minutes from the point at which you turn off the heat.

While the artichokes are cooking, prepare the hazelnut dressing by mixing all the ingredients together.

When the artichokes are cooked, carefully remove from the saucepan, making sure not to break them up. Place them on a flat dish in a single layer. Spoon over some of the hazelnut dressing and toss while still warm. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary.

To assemble the salad, divide the sliced artichokes between 4 plates. Put a little circle of lettuce around the vegetables and sprinkle some of the dressing over the lettuce. Garnish with the hazelnuts and chervil sprigs. Eat while the artichokes are still warm.

Celeriac, Potato and Rosemary Gratin


Serves 4-6

6 bacon rashers, chopped (optional)

420ml (15fl oz) double cream

350ml (12fl oz) milk

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped

1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 celeriac (about 500g/18oz) peeled, quartered and thinly sliced

500g (18oz) potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced



Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4.

Ovenproof gratin dish 10 inch (25.5cm) x 8 1/2 inch (21.5cm)

Grill the bacon, if using, until cooked and lightly brown, then set aside.
Bring the cream, milk, garlic, rosemary, chilli and mustard to the boil in a medium saucepan, and then turn off the heat.

Pour a little of the cream mixture onto the bottom of an ovenproof gratin dish.

Arrange a layer of celeriac, scatter with bacon, then season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Pour over some more of the cream mixture and repeat the same process, alternating potato and celeriac, finishing with a layer of potato. Cover with the remainder of cream mixture. Bake for 1-1 1/4 hours in the preheated oven until golden and the vegetables are tender when a knife is inserted. Leave to sit for 5 minutes, and then serve.

Fool Proof Food

Chinese Seaweed – Deepfried cabbage



Surprisingly, the Chinese seaweed served in many Chinese restaurants has nothing to do with seaweed; it is merely deep fried cabbage. This original way of cooking cabbage tastes absolutely delicious and once you start to eat it, just like peanuts or popcorn it becomes addictive.
Savoy cabbage



Remove the stalks from the outer leaves. Roll the dry leaves into a cigar shape and slice with a very sharp knife into the finest possible shreds.

Heat the oil in a deep fryer to 180°C/350°F.

Toss in some of the cabbage and cook for a few seconds. As soon as it starts to crisp, remove and drain on kitchen paper! Sprinkle with salt and sugar, toss and serve cold.



At last there is Irish sea salt on the market. Irish Atlantic Sea Salt is harvested from the Beara Peninsular using a very natural process that provides an ecologically sound, sustainable organic sea salt. Available at Tom Durkin’s Butcher’s in the English Market, Cork city.
Aileen and Michael O’Niell – 086 1620994 – 027 73222
South African Winemaker Dinner at Ballymaloe House
with Martin Moore, Winemaker, Durbanville Hills Wines, South Africa, in association with Edward Dillon & Co. Wine Merchants. Tuesday 16th November, 2010, 8.00pm reception, followed by dinner with wines. € 70.00. Phone 021 4652531 to book.



Brenda O’Riordan – the wife of an in-shore fisherman in East Cork started her own business, Love Fish in Ballycotton, in 2008. She collects fresh locally caught fish from day boats and delivers straight to your door. Brenda is making it possible for locals and chefs to have access to quality, fresh fish and is making a significant contribution to the local food industry in East Cork, which is why she was recently selected for an EirGrid Euro-toques 2010 Food Award. Contact Brenda 086 1704085.


Rachel Allen’s newest book Entertaining at Home is on the best sellers charts again this week. Rachel will teach a two and half day Festive Entertaining Course at Ballymaloe Cookery School on Tuesday 14th – Thursday 16th December 2010, she will show you how to make and present some wonderful Festive treats and then you’ll get a chance to try them out yourself with our team of teachers.  Phone 021 4646785


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