Father’s Day


 The way to everyone’s heart is as ever through their tummy, it’s Fathers Day tomorrow so lets show our love and appreciation and celebrate with a slap up meal for our bestest Dad – what’s his favourite?

In a quick vox pop around here nine out of ten licked their lips at the mention of a juicy roast beef with all the trimmings – lots of crispy roast potatoes and gravy. Several asked for a bubbly cauliflower cheese or French fried onions and surprise, surprise, apple tart was the top favourite pudding! It even beat lemon meringue pie into second place. Also mushroom soup which several people said they’d like to start with.

If little ones would like to help how about some choccies. These fruit and nuts are made in minutes provided you can resist eating them yourself – a little added crystallised ginger makes them even more delicious – Happy Father’s Day.

Mushroom Soup


Serves 8-9

Mushroom soup is the fastest of all soups to make and surely everyone’s favourite. It is best made with flat mushrooms or button mushrooms a few days old, which have developed a slightly stronger flavour.

450g (1 lb) mushrooms (flat mushrooms are best)

110g (4 ozs) onions

25g (1oz) butter

salt and freshly ground pepper

25g (1oz) flour

600ml (1 pint) milk

600ml (1 pint) homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock

Rinse the mushrooms quickly under cold running water. Chop the onion finely. Melt the butter in a saucepan on a gentle heat. Toss the onions in the butter. Cover and sweat until soft and completely cooked. Meanwhile, chop up the mushrooms very finely.* Add to the saucepan and cook on a high heat for 4 or 5 minutes. Meanwhile bring the stock & milk to the boil in a separate pan. Stir the flour into the onions and mushroom mixture and cook on a low heat for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, then add the hot stock and milk gradually, stirring all the time. Increase the heat and bring to the boil.  Taste and add a dash of cream if necessary. Serve immediately or cool & reheat later.

Tip:  If you can’t be bothered to chop the mushrooms finely, just slice and then whizz in a liquidizer for a few seconds when the soup is cooked.  Be careful not to overdo it, this soup should still have a coarse texture. Stalks may also be used. Mushroom soup freezes perfectly.

Watchpoint: Bring the milk to the boil otherwise it may curdle if added to the soup cold.

Traditional Roast Rib of Beef with Horseradish Sauce, Gravy and Yorkshire Pudding


Few people can resist a roast rib of beef with Horseradish sauce, Yorkshire pudding, lots of gravy and crusty roast potatoes. Always buy beef on the bone for roasting, it will have much more flavour and it isn’t difficult to carve.

Prime rib or wing Rib of Beef on the bone (well hung)

Salt and freshly ground pepper


Serves 8-10

1 pint (600ml) stock (preferably homemade beef stock)

Roux (optional)

Horseradish Sauce (see Examiner Saturday 4th May 2011)

Yorkshire Pudding (see recipe)

Ask your butcher to saw through the upper chine bone so that the ‘feather bones’ will be easy to remove before carving.  Weigh the joint and calculate the cooking time (see below). Preheat the oven to 240C/475F/regulo 9.  Score the fat and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Place the meat in a roasting tin, with the fat side uppermost.  As the fat renders down in the heat of the oven, it will baste the meat.  The bones provide a natural rack to hold the meat clear of the fat in the roasting pan.  Put the meat into a fully preheated oven, after 15 minutes turn down the heat to moderate 180C/350F/regulo 4  until the meat is cooked to your taste.

 There are various ways of checking.  I usually put a skewer into the thickest part of the joint, leave it there for about 30-45 seconds and then put it against the back of my hand, if it still feels cool, the meat is rare, if it is warm it is medium rare, if its hotter

its medium and if you can’t keep the skewer against your hand for more than a second then you can bet its well done. Also if you check the colour of the juices you will find they are clear as opposed to red or pink for rare or medium.

If you own a meat thermometer that will eliminate guesswork altogether but make sure the thermometer is not touching a bone when you are testing.

Beef is rare at an internal temperature of 60C/140F

        medium        “          “         70C/155F

        well-done     “          “         75C/165F

When the meat is cooked it should be allowed to rest on a plate in a warm oven for 15-30 minutes before carving, depending on the size of the roast. The internal temperature will continue to rise by as much as 2-3C/5F, so remove the roast from the oven while it is still slightly underdone.

Meanwhile make the gravy. Spoon the fat off the roasting tin.  Pour the stock into the cooking juices remaining in the tin.  Boil for a few minutes, stirring and scraping the pan well, to dissolve the caramelised meat juices (I find a small whisk ideal for this). Thicken very slightly with a little roux if you like.  Taste and add salt and freshly ground pepper if necessary.  Strain and serve in a warm gravy boat.

Carve the beef at the table and serve with Horseradish sauce, Yorkshire pudding, gravy and lots of crusty roast potatoes.

Roasting Times:

Since ovens vary enormously in efficiency and thermostats are not always accurate and some joints of meat are much thicker than others, these figures must be treated as guidelines rather than rules.  The times below include the 15 minute searing time at a high heat.

Beef on the bone:

Rare        10-12 minutes per 1 lb (450g)

Medium      12-15 minutes per 1 lb (450g)

Well-done   18-20 minutes per 1 lb (450g)


 Beef off the bone:

Rare        8-10 minutes per 1 lb (450g)

Medium      10-12 minutes per 1 lb (450g)

Well-done   15-18 minutes per 1 lb (450g)

Yorkshire Pudding


Simply irresistible with lots of gravy, I cook individual ones which I’m sure would be very much frowned on in Yorkshire but if you want to be more traditional cook it in a roasting tin and cut into squares.

Serves 8-10 approx.

4 ozs (110g) flour

2 eggs, preferably free range

1/2 pint (300ml) milk

1/2 oz (15g) butter, melted

Sieve the flour into a bowl, make a well in the centre of the flour, drop in the eggs.  Using a small whisk or wooden spoon, stir continuously, gradually drawing in flour from the sides, adding the milk in a steady stream at the same time.  When all the flour has been mixed in, whisk in the remainder of the milk and the cool melted butter.  Allow to stand for 1 hour.

Grease hot deep patty tins with pure beef dripping or oil and fill half full.  Bake in a hot oven 230°C/450°F/regulo 8, for 20 minutes approx. 

French Fried Onions


Serves 6

1 large onion


seasoned flour 

good quality oil or beef dripping for deep-frying

Slice the onion into 1/4 inch (5mm) rings around the middle. Separate the rings and cover with milk until needed. Just before serving heat the oil to 180°C/350°F. Toss the rings a few at a time in lightly well seasoned flour. Deep-fry until golden in the hot oil.

Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot.

Lemon Meringue Pie


This is the yummiest lemon meringue pie I have tasted.

Serves 6

4 ozs (110g) white flour

2-3 ozs (50-75g) butter

pinch of salt

1 egg yolk (keep white aside for meringue)

2 tablespoons cold water approx.

Lemon Curd


4 ozs (110g) castor sugar

2 ozs (50g) butter

finely grated rind and juice of 2 good lemons

2 eggs and 1 egg yolk (keep white aside for meringue)


Make meringue with

2 egg whites, preferably free range

4 ozs (110g) castor sugar

7 inch (18cm) round tin preferably with a pop-up base

First make the pastry.

Sieve the flour with the salt, cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour with the fingertips. Keep everything as cool as possible; if the fat is allowed to melt the finished pastry may be tough. When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, stop.

Whisk the egg and add the water. Take a fork or knife, (whichever you feel most comfortable with) and add just enough liquid to bring the pastry together, then discard the fork and collect it into a ball with your hands, this way you can judge more

accurately if you need a few more drops of liquid. Although rather damp pastry is easier to handle and roll out, the resulting crust can be tough and may well shrink out of shape as the water evaporates in the oven. The drier and more difficult-to-handle pastry will give a crisper shorter crust.

Cover with cling film and chill for half an hour if possible, this will make it less elastic and easier to roll out. Line the flan ring and chill again for 15-20 minutes, line with paper and fill with dried beans. Bake blind for 25 minutes, 180°C\350°F\regulo 4. The pastry case must be almost fully cooked.  Remove paper and beans, paint with a little lightly beaten egg white and put back into the oven for 5 minutes approx.

Meanwhile make the lemon curd.

On a very low heat melt the butter, add castor sugar, lemon juice and rind and then stir in well beaten eggs. Stir carefully over a gentle heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Draw off the heat and pour into a bowl (it will thicken as it cools.)  Fill the pastry case with the lemon curd mixture.

To make the meringue – whisk the egg whites in a perfectly clean dry bowl, until they begin to get fluffy, then add 2 ozs (50g) castor sugar and continue to whisk until they form stiff peaks, fold in the last 2 ozs (50g) castor sugar and then either pipe or spread over the lemon mixture with a spoon. Turn the oven down to 130°C/250°F/Gas Mark 1/2 and bake for about 1 hour until the mixture is crisp on the outside. Serve warm or cold. Alternatively cook at 210°C/410°F for 7 minutes.

Note: do not whip the egg whites and make the meringue until you are ready to use otherwise if it sits around it will loose volume.


Choccie Fruit and Nuts


Makes 35 approximately

225g (8ozs) best quality dark chocolate

110g (4ozs) plump raisins

110g (4ozs) hazelnuts

25g (1oz) crystallised ginger

Put the hazelnuts into a moderate oven, 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 15 – 20 minutes or until the skins loosen.  Remove from the oven and rub off the skins in a tea towel.  Return the skinned hazelnuts to the oven and toast until golden.  Cool and cut in half.  Cut the crystallised ginger in 3mm (1/8 inch) dice.  Melt the chocolate carefully in a bowl over simmering water or in a very low oven.  Stir the toasted hazelnuts, raisins and crystallised ginger into the chocolate.  Cover a tray or baking sheet with silicone paper and drop little heaps of the mixture neatly onto the paper from a small teaspoon.  Don’t make them too large because this mixture is quite rich.  Tidy them up a little if necessary. 

Allow to set hard in a cold place, preferably not in the fridge or they will loose their sheen.  When set, peel them off the paper and put them into brown chocolate paper cases.  Pack them into a pretty box or basket.

You will find a delicious Apple Tart recipe on the Ballymaloe Cookery School website.



The Avoca Garden Café in Wicklow was awarded Bord Bia’s Just Ask! Restaurant of the Month, June 2011. Visit Avoca Garden Café this month and catch the end of Wicklow’s Garden Festival from Saturday 11th to Sunday 19th June; it features thirty-two beautiful private gardens, each with their own unique theme and design. www.wicklowgardens.com

Stephen Pearce recently opened a tea-room at his pottery workshop in Shanagarry, Co Cork. They have installed an Astoria espresso machine and make the best cup of coffee I have had in ages. Colleen Curtis from California bakes gorgeous fresh cookies, brownies, muffins… The caramelised apple muffins and lemon curd muffins are to die for! Colleen also makes a fresh pot of soup daily that they serve with homemade focaccia. They are open 7 days a week, 10am – 6pm Monday through Saturday 12pm – 6pm Sunday -021 4646807 www.stephenpearce.com


The Naked Table project comes to Ireland – on Saturday 25th June people from across Ireland will make a Charles Shackleton designed table from locally harvested Irish Oak during a day long event at the Fruitlawn Garden, Abbeyleix, Co Laois. In the evening the tables will be placed end to end in the 80ft long hornbeam tunnel where a feast of local produce will be served. This is part of the Fruitlawn Garden Open Weekend from Saturday 25th to Sunday 26th June 2011. www.nakedtable.com

Sushi gets the ‘thumbs up’ from cardiologists and nutritionists – not least because it is based mainly on fresh fish, seaweed, vegetables and rice, but it is also low in fat and high in minerals. Learn how to make Sushi with Shermin Mustafa at Ballymaloe Cookery School on Wednesday 6th July from 1:00pm to 5:00pm. 021 4646785.

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


Past Letters

  • Recipes