ArchiveJuly 14, 2012

Summer Food

My editor asked me to write a piece on Summer food this week! What on earth am I supposed to write? This would normally be so easy, lots of salads, a few sizzling barbecue dishes, homemade ice creams, granitas, jugs of fresh lemonade and big bowls of Summer berries.

Maybe a picnic by the beach or in a wildflower meadow on the old tartan rug, what a lovely image that conjures up. The reality this year would probably be sodden food and a miserable picnic even for hardy adventurers like me who like to picnic though out the seasons.

Well nothing for it but to look on the bright side and you never know, perhaps the sun will be scorching the stones as you read this.

Even if it is drizzling you can light the barbecue in the garage doorway, hang up a bit of bunting, open some fizz and just have fun.

Here are some of my favourite Summer recipes for the barbie, a butterflied leg of lamb or a boned out shoulder (cheaper) doesn’t take more than 45 minutes to cook and will feed 12-15 people with lots of salads and a few tasty relishes. You can embellish it with generous quantities of gutsy fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary or anoint it with a spice mix and a generous drizzle of extra Virgin olive oil.

Lamb chops, ask for chump chops (they are meatier) chicken thighs (they are tastier) steaks (flank is both cheaper and tastier by far) and sausages all cook in minutes and can be tarted up with flavoured butters, mustards and a few complimentary sauces.

A good big gratin of potato is a brilliant idea for a barbecue; I particularly love a gratin of potato with some Ballyhoura mushrooms or this version with rosemary.

They both go brilliantly with grilled food and can be made the day before and reheated until the top is bubbly and golden.

Make a great big bowl of green salad and look out for those beautiful misshapen, multi-coloured heirloom tomatoes, make sure they are really ripe and then make a beautiful tomato and cucumber salad with lots of fresh mint or basil.

And for pudding- Summer fruit salad with sweet geranium leaves, It’s the perfect time of the year to make this when all the berries are ripe and blackcurrants and red currants just burst deliciously in your mouth. This recipe was in my very first Simply Delicious book when I had brown hair and red glasses, its ‘just as delicious as ever and one of our very favourite Summer puds, light and fruity, it will slip down perfectly after you’ve over indulged.


Mexican Spiced Pork Chops with Pineapple Salsa


Serves 8


8 free-range and organic pork loin chops with a nice layer of fat (2.5cm (1 inch) thick)

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon marjoram

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon runny honey

4 tablespoons olive oil


Salt, black pepper


Pineapple, Chilli and Lime Salsa (see recipe)


Mix the garlic, marjoram, cumin, coriander, black pepper, cinnamon, vinegar, orange juice, honey and olive oil together in a Pyrex measuring jug.  Pour mixture over chops, turning several times to coat thoroughly.  Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Season the chops with salt. Grill pan or barbecue over medium-hot coals until fully cooked but still juicy, 8-10 minutes per side.  Season the chops with salt. Serve hot with Pineapple, Chilli and Lime salsa.


Pineapple, Chilli and Lime Salsa


Serves 8


1/2 fresh pineapple, cored and finely diced (use less canned if you are in a hurry)

1 fresh red chilli, seeded and finely chopped

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander or mint

grated zest of 1 lime

3 tablespoons lime juice

salt and sugar


Mix the pineapple with the chilli, onion, coriander or mint, lime zest and lime juice in a bowl.  Add salt and sugar to taste.  Cover and let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature to allow flavours to blend.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Gratin of Potatoes with Rosemary and Bay Leaves


Serves 4


about 300ml (10fl oz) each of single cream and milk

2 sprigs rosemary and a couple crushed bay leaves

900g (2lb) potatoes, peeled and fairly thinly sliced

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

salt and freshly ground black pepper


20cm (8in) square gratin dish


Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6


Put the milk and cream into a heavy saucepan, add the scrunched bay leaves, finely chopped rosemary and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Bring to the shivery stage on a medium heat,  turn off the heat and allow to infuse.


Meanwhile peel and slice the potatoes into 3mm (1/8 inch) thick slices approximately.  Rinse the potato well to remove some starch, add to the herby infused liquid with the crushed garlic.  Bring to the boil on top of the stove (to take the rawness away).


Then pour into a buttered gratin dish, cover with parchment paper.


Bake in the preheated oven for 45-60 minutes. Uncover and brown before serving in a hot oven or under the grill.


Butterflied Leg or Shoulder of Lamb with Moroccan Flavours


We make this amazing recipe at the cookery school – this will feed 10 people easily, if they are having no other meat or fish.  But with a selection of accompaniments it would probably feed 25.  You can, of course, halve the recipe.  Leg or shoulder or pork works well for this too.


1 leg of lamb, about 3kg (6 3/4 lb) in weight, butterflied

Or a shoulder of lamb boned



2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon cardamom seeds

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder

2 tablespoons harissa

1 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic or white wine vinegar

3 garlic cloves, grated or crushed


Cucumber and Radish Raita (see recipe)


Heat a pan.  Add the cumin seeds, and cook for a few seconds, then add the peppercorns and cardamom seeds.  Remove from the heat and crush coarsely.  Mix with all the other marinade ingredients.  Place the lamb in a large shallow dish or in a clear plastic bag.  Pour the marinade over and rub into the meat.  Leave for 24 hours if possible, rubbing the marinade into the meat every so often.


Drain the lamb from the marinade and place quite far (20cm (8in)) from the coals.  It will take about 55–60 minutes to cook.  Baste with the marinade a few times while it’s cooking.  Rest the meat for 10 minutes, then carve.  You can also roast this, in all its marinade, in an oven preheated to 200C/400F/gas 6.  It will take about 1–1½ hours.  Baste it with the marinade regularly.  Again, rest the meat before carving.


Cucumber  and Radish Raita


Makes 16fl oz (450ml)

10fl oz (300ml) yoghurt

½ cucumber, deseeded and finely diced

2 tbsp chopped coriander or mint

salt and pepper

6 – 8 sliced or quartered radish – depending on size.


Put the yoghurt into a bowl, add the cucumber, coriander and some salt and pepper to taste. Add the sliced radish and taste and correct seasoning


Note: You could also grate the whole cucumber for this, but first sprinkle it with a pinch of salt and let it drain sitting in a sieve over a bowl for 10 minutes to get rid of excess juices.




Bananas wrapped in Streaky Bacon


Kids love to make these and people of every age seem to enjoy them.



Thin streaky rashers.


Peel the bananas and cut into chunks about 2 – 2 1/2 inches (5cm – 6.5cm) long (depending on the width of the rasher).


Wrap each piece in bacon and secure with a ‘soaked’ cocktail stick, toss the bananas in fresh lemon juice if prepared ahead. Cook on a grid on the hinged barbecue 4 – 6 inches (10cm – 15cm) from the hot coals for 6-10 minutes depending on the size, serve immediately.


Summer Fruit Salad with Sweet Geranium Leaves


Sweet geranium (Pelargonium Graveolens) and many other varieties of scented geraniums are every present on our windowsills here at Ballymaloe.  We use the delicious lemon scented leaves in all sorts of ways, occasionally we use the pretty purple flowers also to enliven and add magic to otherwise simple dishes.  The crystallized leaves, all frosty and crinkly are wonderful with fresh cream cheese and fat juicy blackberries.

I discovered this recipe which has now become a perennial favourite quite by accident a few Summers ago as I raced to make a pudding in a hurry with the ingredients I had at that moment.


Serves 2-4


1 oz (30g) Raspberries

1oz (30g) Loganberries

1 oz (30g) Red currants

1 oz (30g) Black currants

1 oz (30g) small Strawberries

1 oz (30g) Blueberries

1 oz (30g) Fraises du bois or wild strawberries




14 oz (400g) sugar

16 fl oz (450ml) water

6-8 large sweet geranium leaves


Put all the freshly picked berries into a white china or glass bowl.  Put the sugar, water and sweet geranium leaves into a stainless steel saucepan and bring slowly to

the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Boil for just 2 minutes.   Cool for 4-5 minutes then pour the hot syrup over the fruit and allow to macerate for several hours.  Remove the geranium leaves.  Serve chilled, with softly-whipped cream or Vanilla Ice-cream or alone.  Garnish with a few fresh sweet geranium leaves.


Summer Berry Jelly with Sweet Geranium Leaves


Sometimes when we have a berry salad left over, particularly if there is more juice than fruit we make it into a jelly.  Use 1 teaspoons of gelatine to each 150ml/¼ pint of liquid.  Pour into glasses or white china bowls, serve with softly whipped cream and decorate with geranium leaves.




Don’t miss this Summer’s Long Table Dinner in the Ballymaloe Cookery School glasshouse on Thursday 2nd August (last year it was a sell-out) Hosted by Darina Allen and Mme.Véronique Guibert de La Vaissière of Mas de Daumas Gassac Wines. Menu from the organic farm and gardens by Rory O’Connell inspired by ‘Savours and Flavours of Mas de Daumas Gassac’ matched with the Grand Cru wines of Mas de Daumas Gassac. Proceeds will go to East Cork Slow Food Educational Project.  Advanced booking essential.

Kilcolman Rectory is a charming little Georgian B&B in Enniskeane West Cork, they do really good breakfast with homemade breads and preserves, fruit from the garden and locally sourced produce. If you are just passing through you can visit their gardens, they serve cream teas too – – +353 (0)23 – 8822913

Irish Examiner Food Festival – Darina Allen is doing a free cookery demonstration followed by a book signing in Fitzgeralds Park at 2:30pm on Saturday 21st July.


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