ArchiveAugust 2012

National Potato Day

Today is National Potato day. Well, you may not necessarily be euphoric or even particularly interested but I’m certainly going to celebrate our most famous Irish vegetable. I love potatoes but not just any potatoes. The red skinned Rooster is supposedly Ireland’s favourite potato but funnily enough not mine. Give me Home Guard or British Queens any day. Later in the season I also seek out Sharps Express and Scary Champions. For those who like a waxy potato, fingerlings like Ratte and Pink Fir Apple make delicious potato salads. For flavour and texture, main crop Golden Wonder and Kerrs Pinks are hard to beat. I know they are trickier that the red skinned variety to cook but I still love the floury Irish potatoes that burst out of their jackets just before they are fully cooked.

The Ballycotton area has long been famous for its potatoes but there are just three commercial growers left now – John Kennifick from Maytown, Michael Ivers from Ballyandreen and Willie Scannell from Ballytrasna. Willie sells his Home Guard, British Queens, Kerrs Pinks and the main crop Golden Wonders at Midleton Farmer Market. Get there early, you’ll be lucky if they are not sold out by 11:30am. It’s hard to beat a really good potato for nourishment and sheer value for money. They are packed with nutrients, vitamin C (twice as much as an orange) vitamin B, potassium, iron and twice the amount of fibre as brown rice.

Even a total novice in the kitchen can cook potatoes in a variety of simple ways. Three star chefs can have fun incorporating potatoes into their award winning menus. They take on other flavours brilliantly, spices and fresh herbs and ethnic ingredients add extra magic.

As organic farmers we grow a small quantity of 8 to 10 blight resistant potato varieties every year, fertilised in the traditional way with seaweed gathered from Shanagarry Strand after a storm. Not all blight resistant varieties are delicious some like Sarpo Mira tends to be a bit wet and soapy in some soils. This year has been horrendously difficult for potato farmers, with the combination of rain and ideal conditions for blight.

The recent decision by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to grant permission to Teagasc to do trials of GM (Genetically Modified) potatoes in the open has been welcomed by many in the farming industry and caused concern among others who have reservations about the Genetic Modification of food and the impact of the decision on Ireland’s image of a clean green Ireland.

Thus far Ireland is a GM free Ireland but as one pragmatist remarked to me ‘you can only lose your virginity once’

Should the trials be successful, will the general public many of whom have shown a distinct reluctance to embrace GM foods flock to buy GM potatoes. How will this affect our food export?

Earlier this year in response to the deep unease and sense of helplessness ordinary citizens feel around this topic, Kaethe Burt O’Dea and a number of others started a project called SPUDS who distributed blight resistant seeds to approximately 300 growers – large and small – across the country. Over the next five months they will record their progress in growing and tending to these potatoes and at harvest time they will document the yield and taste of their crop. This community based research will be analysed and be then published in early 2013 around the country.


Potato and Sweetcorn Chowder


A satisfying and filling soup made in a short time.  This could be a supper dish if eaten with a few scones and followed by a salad.


Serves: 4-6

In season: all year


2-3 medium potatoes, parboiled for 10 minutes, drained, peeled and finely chopped

450g (1 lb) sweetcorn kernels

30g (1 oz) butter

170g (6 oz) approx. onion, finely chopped

300ml (10 fl oz) home-made chicken stock

300ml (10 fl oz) milk

salt and freshly ground pepper

250ml (8 fl oz) light cream or creamy milk


roasted red pepper dice or crispy bacon dice

sprigs of flat parsley


Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the onion and potato and sweat until soft but not coloured.  Gradually add in the stock and milk, stirring all the time, and bring to the boil.  Simmer for a few minutes, add the corn, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, cover and cook gently for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.  Add the cream and heat through gently without boiling.

Serve in hot bowls with a little dice of roasted red pepper or crispy bacon and parsley on top.

Note: If the soup is too thick, thin it out with a little chicken or vegetable stock.


Hot Potato Cakes with Crème Fráiche and Smoked Salmon


Serves 8

In season- year round


900g (2 lb) unpeeled ‘old’ potatoes eg. Golden Wonders or Kerrs Pinks

30g – 55g (1-2 oz) (30-55g) butter

55g (2 oz) flour

1 tablespoon chopped parsley, chives and lemon thyme, mixed, (optional)

salt and freshly ground pepper

creamy milk

seasoned flour

bacon fat, clarified butter or olive oil for frying

crème fraiche

8 generous slices of smoked salmon or smoked trout

chopped chives



Cook the potatoes in their jackets, pull off the peel and mash right away, add the flour and herbs. Season with lots of salt and freshly ground pepper, adding a few drops of creamy milk if the mixture is altogether too stiff. Mix well. Taste and correct the seasoning. Shape into potato cakes 2.5cm (1 inch) thick and then cut into rounds. Dip in seasoned flour.

Fry the potato cakes in clarified butter until golden on one side, then flip over and cook on the other side, 4-5 minutes approx. they should be crusty and golden.  Serve on very hot plates.

Put a blob of creme fraiche on top of each potato cake. Top with slivers of smoked salmon and sprinkle with chives. Serve immediately.


Crusty Potatoes with Ginger and Garlic


In parts of India they eat almost as many potatoes as the Irish, but they don’t just boil or roast them – many are deliciously spiced.  This recipe given which was given to me by  Madhur Jaffrey is one of my favourites.


Serves 4-5


12 lbs (675g) ‘old’ potatoes -  Golden Wonders or Kerrs Pinks

Piece of fresh ginger, about 2 x 1 x 1 inch (5 x 2.5 x 2.5cm), peeled and coarsely chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

3 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

5 tablespoons

sunflower or peanut oil

1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds (optional)


Boil the potatoes in their jackets until just cooked.  Drain them and let them cool. Peel the potatoes and cut them into :-1 inch (2-2.5cm) dice.

Put the chopped fresh ginger, crushed garlic, water, turmeric, salt and cayenne pepper into the container of a food processor, blend to a paste.

Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium flame. When hot, put in the fennel seeds. Let them sizzle for a few seconds (careful not to let them burn) add in the spice paste. Stir and fry for 2 minutes. Put in the potatoes. Stir and fry for 5-7 minutes over a medium-high flame or until the potatoes have a  nice, golden-brown crust. Sprinkle with chopped parsley or coriander. Serve on their own, perhaps with Cucumber and Yoghurt Raita or as an accompaniment to grilled or roast meat.


Spicy Aubergine Stew with Potatoes, Mushrooms and Chickpeas


( Taken From Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian)


Serves 4 – 6


4 tablespoons vegetable oil

a large pinch of ground asafoetida

1½ teaspoons cumin seeds

3 dried red chillies

2 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed

340g (12ozs) potatoes, peeled and cut into 2.5 – 4cm (1 – 1½ in) chunks

340g (12 oz) long, slim aubergines (Japanese or Italian), cut across into 2.5 – 4 cm (1 – 1½) chunks

340g (12 oz) large white mushrooms, cut into halves or quarters to match size of other vegetable pieces

¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground coriander

250ml (8 fl oz) tomata passata

2¼ teaspoons salt

85g (3oz) fresh coriander, very finely chopped (leaves, stems and roots)

400g (14 oz ) drained cooked chickpeas (see below)


How to cook dried chickpeas:

For 250g (9oz) dried chickpeas, use 1.5 litres (2½ pints) water.  Put the soaked chickpeas and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Turn the heat to low, cover and cook gently for 1 – 3 hours, or until the chickpeas are very tender.  Salt, about 1½ teaspoons, may be added in the last half hour of cooking unless the recipe tells you to put it in later.



Put the oil into a large, wide pan and set over high heat.  When hot, put in the asafetida and cumin seeds.  Let them sizzle for 10 seconds.  Put in the whole red chillies.  As soon as they swell and darken – a matter of seconds – put in the garlic and potatoes.  Stir and fry for 1 minute.  Put in the aubergine chunks, and stir and fry for 2 minutes.  Put in the mushrooms, and stir and fry for another 2 minutes.  Now add the turmeric and ground coriander.  Stir once, then pour in the tomato passata and 1 litre (1¾ pints) water.  Add the salt, fresh coriander and chickpeas.  Bring to the boil.  Cover, turn the heat to low and cook gently for 35 – 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.  Serve hot.


The Great British Cheese Festival 2012 from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd September, at Cardiff Castle – fantastic atmosphere with a huge selection of cheese including Irish Farmhouse Cheese to try, taste and buy. Masterclasses, demos and live music.

Several exciting new stalls have popped up at the Midleton Farmers Market…


Local fisherman, Michael Barrett has Fresh lobsters and crabs in season nestled on a bed of seaweed: Tel 0876000438


Siobhan, daughter of Jane Murphy who makes the multi-award winning Ardsallagh Goat Cheese has started her own cheesy business under the name of Carrig Foods – Timo’s Irish cheddar in block and grated, Aged Parmesan pieces and grated and a cute little collection of Irish Farmhouse cheeses perfect for a picnic. Tel: 021-4882338.


Don’t miss Lucy Deegan’s Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms, Shitake Bacon, crispy and totally delicious as a nibble or over salads. There’s also porcini dust, porcini oil, wild mushroom ketchup, seriously mushroomy mushroom soup, a great little business offering lots of temptations both at Midleton and Mahon Point Farmers Markets – Tel: 0868100808


Tempting Tipperary Organic Ice Cream in many flavours – also a new addition – great with Rose Cottage Berries. New seasons blueberries have just arrived and there’s much much more…


Midleton Farmers Market is on every Saturday from 9:00am to 2:00pm

Mahon Point Farmers Market is on every Thursday from 10am to 2pm

Ard Bia Cookbook

The word lovely comes up over and over again in the Ard Bia cookbook. Lovely extras to serve with cheese or lovely extra to serve with the perfect steak. Perfect poached egg and lovely extras, it’s got a comforting homely ring to it which I love – in fact I really loved a lot about the new Ard Bia cookbook. The zany photos, the clean layout and design, the line drawings, and the eclectic collection of Ard Bia classics that so many of Aoibheann Mac Namara’s loyal fans will love to have. Yet, I doubt it will keep them at home, they’ll still want to go to Ard Bia one of Galway’s most enduring and best loved restaurants.

The cookbook represents a day in the life of Ard Bia, favourite breakfast, lunch, mid-afternoon snacks, supper and dinner dishes. The book also includes some thoughts on a cheese course – the secret of some of Ard Bia’s much hankered after juices and finally the Pantry section. I particularly loved these chapters (there are 4) with herb sugars, pickles, vinaigrettes, a variety of hummus, chutneys, relishes, pickles, cordials, jellies and some thoughts on foraging.

I only ate once at Nimmos but I have never forgotten the beautifully simple but truly lovely food, a celebration of fresh local produce, spiced up with imagination and a sure hand.

Here are some of the dishes and juices we’ve enjoyed so far.


Buttermilk and Poppy-Seed Pancakes


Our poppy-seed pancakes are legendary. The secret is the buttermilk –

a much under-rated natural ingredient which gives a nice tartness. It also

helps to plump them up, providing the natural acids needed to kick-start

baking soda into releasing carbon dioxide gases. You could try replacing the

poppy seeds with fresh seasonal berries – juicy ripe blackberries work

well in the autumn, or try frozen berries at any time of year.


2 eggs

80ml / 2.7fl oz milk

350ml / 12fl oz buttermilk

350g / 14oz plain flour

35g / 1.2oz caster sugar

2 tbsp poppy seeds

1 heaped tsp baking soda

120g / 5oz melted butter

(plus extra knobs of butter to cook,

depending on the pan)


Tastes great with:

syrup of choice (we love Highbank Orchard syrup)

seasonal fruit compote

honey-nut yoghurt


Serves 4–6


Beat the eggs, milk and buttermilk together. Combine the flour, sugar, poppy seeds and baking soda, and mix thoroughly into the egg mix. To do this you can beat in a blender or food processor until incorporated. If you’d rather do it by hand, make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in half the liquid, stirring with a wooden spoon to draw in the flour until it is well combined, before adding the remaining liquid. Finally, stir the melted butter through

the batter. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until ready to use.

Heat a decent-sized griddle or non-stick pan over a high heat. If you have a pancake pan, all the better. Depending on the quality of your pan you may or may not need to add a knob of butter – try it without first to test it out. Spoon a ladleful of pancake batter into the middle of the pan and allow it to form a drop-scone shape. Cook on the first side for three to four minutes or until the base of

the pancake turns golden brown. Flip to cook the second side until a nice golden brown; the pancake should be cooked through at this stage.

You can either serve each pancake when it is ready, or stack them in a just-warm oven until ready to serve. We like to serve these with honey-nut yoghurt and elderberry syrup, but you could serve them with any kind of fruit and yoghurt, crème fraîche or even ice-cream, if that’s the kind of breakfast your morning is calling for!


Torn Lamb Shoulder with Sumac and Pomegranate


Sumac is a Middle Eastern spice with a lemony tang, traditionally used when lemons are out of season. It brings a high note to the slow-cooked lamb deep base flavours and the earthy artichoke purée.


600g / 1½lb shoulder of lamb (off the bone),

trimmed and chopped into large pieces

3–4 tbsp oil (vegetable, sunflower or rapeseed)

1 litre / 2 pints stock (lamb stock is ideal – ask your butcher for bones, or use beef, chicken or even vegetable stock)

2 lemons, juice and zest

5 spring onions, roughly chopped

1 tbsp sumac

1 pomegranate, seeds only

1 tbsp rose salt (optional)

To serve:


tabouleh, quinoa or couscous flavoured yoghurt

Tastes great with:

Jerusalem artichoke purée (in the winter)

Serves 6 as a starter, or 4 as a

main course

Preheat oven to 180°C/350ºF/gas mark 4.


In a hot pan, brown the pieces of lamb in batches with a little oil and place in a deep baking tray. Add the stock, spring onions, lemon juice and zest. Braise for at least 90 minutes, until the meat is falling apart. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the stock. Tear the meat apart into small chunks. You can prepare the lamb in advance, as it will keep in the fridge for a day or two. Be sure to retain the rich stock. You will need a little of it to reheat the lamb and you can use the remainder as

a base for other rich wintry dishes, such as the lamb tagine or venison stew or reduce it down to make a gravy or jus to serve with a Sunday roast Prepare the artichoke purée When ready to serve, preheat a grill to hot. Sprinkle sumac over the torn lamb and drizzle with a little stock to keep it moist. Heat through under the grill.

To serve, place a generous spoonful of artichoke purée into each serving bowl and place the lamb on top. Finish each serving with a scattering of plump pomegranate seeds and a pinch of rose salt, if using. If serving as a main course, you could accompany it with flatbreads, tabouleh, quinoa or couscous and a flavoured yoghurt.


Ricotta Tart

A Paolo classic and a favourite amongst the staff, who have been known to eat it for breakfast.


You need to make this tart.


225g / 9oz plain flour

150g / 6oz soft butter

75g / 3oz caster sugar

1 lemon, zest only

1 egg (optional, for a richer shortbread)

For the tart filling:

250g / 10oz fresh ricotta cheese

1 egg

30g / 1oz sultanas

30g / 1oz pistachios, chopped

1 orange, zest only

50g / 2oz sugar

2 drops vanilla extract

Fills a 24cm tart tin

Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4. Lightly grease a

24cm tart tin with a removable base.


To make the shortbread pastry, combine the flour, butter, sugar, zest and egg, if using, and beat with a wooden spoon or in a food processor until it forms a soft dough. If opting for the egg-free version, a few drops of water may help bind the dough, depending on the condition of the flour. Take care not to overwork the dough. Lay out a piece of parchment on your work surface and dust sparingly with flour. Form the dough into a ball, flatten and roll out with a lightly floured rolling pin to a thickness of about 6mm, turning the parchment to move the dough.

Carefully transfer the pastry to the greased tart tin, pressing down into the corners and edges. If the pastry breaks, just press it back together and patch with an extra piece of pastry to ensure a good seal. Line with a piece of parchment, fill with baking beans and bake blind for about 10–15 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the filling, beating the ricotta, egg, sultanas, pistachios, orange zest, sugar and vanilla together to combine well. Once the pastry has baked to a light golden brown, remove the parchment and beans, and pour in the ricotta filling. Return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool before gently easing the tart out of the tin.


Beetroot Hummus

500g / 1lb beetroot

salt and pepper

olive oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped

2 tsp ground cumin

1–2 tbsp pomegranate molasses, to taste

1 tbsp tahini

½ lemon, juice only

Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6.


Rinse the beetroot and trim the leaves if still on (but don’t be tempted to top and tail the bulb or the colour will leach). Pat dry and toss in oil in a large baking tray. Season and bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes or

until the beets are soft but not shrivelled. Allow to cool before peeling (the skin should rub away easily), trimming the root and stalks and chopping roughly. In a food processor, blend the beetroot, garlic and cumin to a smooth paste. Add a tablespoon of pomegranate molasses along with tahini and lemon juice, stirring or pulsing to combine thoroughly. Check the seasoning, adding more pomegranate molasses, lemon juice or salt if you feel it’s needed.


Muhumara is a hot pepper dip originally from Aleppo, Syria. It is served as a dip with bread, as a spread for toast and as a sauce for kebabs, grilled meats and fish.



250g / 9oz roasted red peppers

1 red chilli

50ml rapeseed oil

75g / 3oz toasted walnuts

2 garlic cloves

25g / 1oz dried breadcrumbs

20ml pomegranate molasses

1 tsp ground cumin

½ lemon, juice only

chopped fresh coriander, to taste


Combine everything except the oil in a food processor and blend whilst slowly adding the oil. The final consistency should be like hummus, so more or less oil may be needed.


Beetroot, carrot, apple and ginger juice

1 medium carrot, washed and/or peeled

1 medium apple, cored

2cm piece of ginger, peeled

1 small beetroot, washed (optional)

½ lemon (optional)


Juice the carrot, apple and ginger. This alone is delicious (and looks gorgeous) or you can add a small beetroot for extra oomph. If you find all those vegetables a bit intense, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon to cut through it. Drink immediately.


Cucumber, Apple, Mint and Lime Juice

This refreshing juice is light and zingy and the perfect thirst quencher after a Summers walk.


2 apples, cored

1 handful of mint

½ cucumber

1 lime


Juice the apples, mint and cucumber. Squeeze a lime and mix it in. Drink immediately.



Congratulations to Barron’s Bakery in Co Waterford for their book Our Daily Bread, a History of Barron’s Baker which got second place in the international Gourmand World Cookbook awards in the bread section.


Courses at Nano Nagle Centre, Ballygriffin, Mallow

Organic Kitchen Garden Course with Noreen O’Brien starts on Wednesday 19th September from 10am to 1am – a series of ten mornings up to April 2013 – the subjects covered include plant rotation, mulching, seed sewing, organic pest control…

Thursday 4th October from 10am – 1pm – Preserving Course – Come and Make and Take Home – jams, jellies, chutneys…022 26411 to book –

Kitty Travers La Grotta Ices

Kitty Travers loves ice cream. When she was little, her mum found her rummaging in a bin at the circus licking ice cream wrappers totally oblivious of the clowns and trapeze.

Now Kitty sells her exquisite hand-made ice creams, sorbets and granita from a little refrigerated ice cream van in London. Her company La Grotta Ices was named Best of the Best in the British Street Food Awards.  More recently Kitty was chosen by Ferguson Henderson as one of the young culinary stars of the future in the uber-cool Coco Cookbook published by Phaidon where 10 chefs including Ferran Adria, Gordon Ramsay, Alice Waters and Rene Redzepi choose their most exciting up and coming chefs. Not bad for someone who doesn’t even own a restaurant, but then again the list of places she’s worked reads like a Who’s Who of the foodie world.

She started her career in London at the French bakery Poilaine and at Villandry, not as a cook but as a waitress and learned French from the Gallic brigade. As luck would have it, when her Gran died she left her some money so she forked out 10 grand for a six month professional chef programme at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. This led to a stint at one of Mario Batali’s restaurant Otto in New York under the pastry chef Meredith Kurtzman, where she learned to make ice cream from the super fresh ingredients from Union Square Green Market and later she worked with Gabrielle Hamilton at Prune in the East Village who advised her to go back to London and get a job with St John, she landed a job at a St John Bread and Wine with head baker Justin Piers Gellaty where she had the dream job of choosing (and making) the daily dessert menu.

Throughout it all, she continued her quest for best, always tasting and experimenting at every possible opportunity, she couldn’t pass an ice-cream parlour anywhere.  She travelled all over Italy and France and while she was at  the American Academy in Rome, she’d cycle her little bike around gelaterias in her spare time, she found a little bar doing little pots of espresso granita with Chantilly cream on top – divine.

That summer she came back to London, bought a little van and La Grotta ice cream was born. She sells at Maltby Street Farmers Market in Bermondsey – that’s where I first met her -and at festivals and society weddings.  She spreads the word on twitter and facebook.

I was enchanted by her bewitching personality as well as her sublime ice-creams, granitas, and sorbets. Last time I was in London I visited her Ice Cream Shed where she hand makes all her products.  More recently she came to teach a course at Ballymaloe Cookery School, it was fantastic – if you missed it this year watch out for her name on our brochure next year or check out Welbeck Estate School of Artisan Food where she teaches regular classes. There’s one on the 15th September and another on 21st October, check the details on the website

Here are some of the ice cream and granitas that Kitty made while she was with us – a portable Kenwood Sorbetiere works brilliantly and costs up to €85.00.

Kitty aged several of her ice creams in a fridge overnight, the difference in texture and flavour was dramatic.



Kitty Travers Corn Flour Ice-Cream


This ice cream is inexpensive to make and sounds dull but it was delicious and is one of the best recipes to take on flavours. Kitty also made a tarragon and lovage and celery leaf ice cream, both delicious.


Makes about 800mls/1 litre (1 3/4 pints) when churned.


Makes 10 Scoops


750ml (25fl oz) milk

1 vanilla pod

3 tablespoons corn flour

100g (3 1/2oz) sugar


Heat the milk and split vanilla pod together in a saucepan until it is barely breaking a simmer. Mix the corn flour and sugar in a bowl, whisk in the hot milk in a steady stream then return all the mixture to the saucepan and continue cooking over a low heat, stirring constantly until it reaches a temperature of 85°C/185°F.


Plunge pan into a bath of ice water and cool to 10°C/50°F within 30 minutes – stirring occasionally.  Refrigerate the mixture for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.


Strain through a chinois, pressing with the back of a ladle to remove the vanilla pod, emulsify for 30 seconds with an immersion blender and churn in ice-cream machine until frozen.


Scrape the ice-cream into a freezer box, cover with waxed paper and a tight fitting lid, and freeze hard to keep for up to 1 month.



This recipe can be adapted and made with any number of culinary herbs or flowers eg Tarragon/Spearmint/Rose Petals/Marigold/

Honeysuckle/Cherry Blossom…


Simply replace the vanilla pod with 40-50g (1 1/2 – 2oz) fresh herbs or 20g (3/4oz) dried herbs such as lavender or thyme.


Bring the milk to a simmer and add the herbs, submerge and cover with cling film then allow to steep for 10 minutes (dried herbs) or 20 minutes (soft herbs and flowers) before straining and continuing with the recipe from the start, using the perfumed milk and omitting the vanilla.


Kitty Travers Sunrise Sorbet


Makes about 1 litre/Serves 10


350g (12oz) strawberries

1 unwaxed orange boiled for 1 hour & cooled

freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon

200mls (7fl oz) sugar syrup (see recipe)


Dip the strawberries in a big basin of cold water to wash, then lay on clean tea towels or paper towel for a few minutes to dry.


Place the strawberries in large mixing bowl and cover with the sugar syrup and lemon juice for 1 hour and allow to macerate (this can also be done overnight.


Quarter the orange; add it to the strawberries and purée altogether with a stick (immersion) blender. Sieve through a fine mesh chinois to remove pips. Push the purée through sieve with the back of a ladle with a lunging motion.


Check the BRIX and if necessary adjust to 20% either by adding more sugar syrup – 1 tablespoon at a time to bring it up – or extra water to bring it down.  Allow to chill.


Churn in an ice-cream maker or sorbetiere for 35-45 minutes then scrape the sorbet out into a freezer box, cover with waxed paper to minimize exposure to air and freeze.


Sugar Syrup


The basic sugar syrup below can also be used for homemade lemonades as well as for fruit salads and compotes. It keeps for months in a fridge, or a shorter time if unrefrigerated.


Makes 825ml (28fl oz)


450g (1lb) sugar

600ml (1 pint) water


Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then leave it to cool. Store in the fridge until needed.


Kitty Travers Raspberry and Rose Geranium Ice-Cream


Makes about 1 litre or 10 big scoops


300g (10oz) raspberries

180ml (6fl oz) whole milk

180ml (6fl oz) double cream

6-8 Rose Geranium leaves

4 egg yolks

100g (3 1/2oz) sugar

pinch of salt

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice


In a saucepan, heat the milk and cream together to a simmer.  Rinse the geranium leaves and drop them into the simmering milk to submerge, then remove pan from the heat.  Cover with cling film and leave to steep in a basin full of cold water for about 15 minutes.


Meanwhile cook the raspberries very lightly with a tablespoon of water for about 5 minutes or until they collapse when stirred.  Push them through a fine sieve or chinois to remove all the pips.  Chill the purée until later.


Re-heat the perfumed milk and cream until barely simmering.


Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and salt together vigorously until pale and creamy.


Pour hot milk over yolks in a steady stream to temper, whisking constantly and then return all mix to pan.


Cook out over a low heat stirring constantly until the temperature reaches 85°C/185°F.


Plunge the saucepan into an ice bath, stir every now and again to cool to room temperature (within half an hour)


Mix with the raspberry purée & refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and whizz with a stick (immersion) blender for 30 seconds to emulsify before churning.


Once frozen scrape into a lidded freezer box, cover with a piece of waxed paper or cling film to limit exposure to the air and hard freeze.


Kitty Travers Peach and Basil Sorbet


Makes about 1 litre or 10 scoops


4 large ripe peaches

150mls (5fl oz) simple sugar syrup (see recipe)

30mls (1 1/4fl oz) water

freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon

40-50g bunch of basil


Bring the sugar syrup and water to a simmer. Rinse the basil. Submerge the basil in the syrup the moment that it breaks into a boil.  Remove the saucepan from the heat instantly, cover the pan with cling film and place in a sink full of cold water. Allow the basil to steep in the liquid for about 12-15 minutes.


Strain the basil from syrup, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible.  Reheat the syrup bringing back to a simmer.  Slice the peaches in half over the saucepan (so any juices drip into the syrup).  Carefully drop the peach halves into the simmering syrup and allow to poach lightly until tender for about 8 minutes.


Allow peaches to cool then slip off the skins and purée the flesh along with the lemon juice using a stick (immersion) blender until very smooth.


Push puree through a fine sieve or chinois to remove any fibres, then churn in an ice-cream machine until frozen.


Scrape out sorbet into a lidded container, cover with waxed paper and store in a deep freeze until required.




Kitty Travers Nectarine Leaf Ice-Cream


Makes 10 Scoops


4 ripe nectarines

freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon, unwaxed if possible

250ml (9fl oz) milk

250g (9fl oz) double cream

200g (7oz) sugar

4 egg yolks

20 nectarine leaves


Halve the nectarines, collecting any juice.  Remove the pit, and quarter them, then cook them lightly with a tablespoon of water for about 8 minutes or until just tender.  Cool then purée with the lemon juice; push the purée through a fine sieve or chinois to remove the skin and any fibres. Keep aside until later.


Bring milk and cream to a simmer in a stainless steel saucepan and stir occasionally to avoid scorching.  Pick the nectarine leaves from the branch, rinse them then as soon as the milk hits a simmer, submerge the leaves in the hot liquid.  Cover the saucepan with cling film and then put it in a sink full of iced water and allow the leaves to steep for exactly 10 minutes before straining.


Re-heat the milk and cream mixture to a simmer. As it heats, whisk the sugar into the egg yolks to combine.  Pour the hot milk into the yolk mixture to ‘temper’ the yolks, then return all the mixture to the pan and slowly cook out to 86°C/186°F stirring constantly and briskly.


As soon as mixture reaches 86°C/186°F, plunge pan into a sink full of iced water. Cool until ice-cream base reaches room temperature. Stir in the nectarine purée then cover and refrigerate overnight to ‘age’ the base.


Blitz the base with a stick (immersion) blender to emulsify then pour the mixture into an ice-cream machine and churn until frozen. Scrape out into a suitable lidded container.  Cover with waxed paper to avoid exposure to air and store in the freezer for up to 1 month.


The nectarines in this recipe can be substituted for 600g of any other soft fruits, or a different herb.  Puree the fruit first then strain to remove any pips.

Interesting flavor combinations might include the following:

Raspberry + Lemon Verbena/ Blackberry + Rose Geranium/ Apricot + Almond/ Gooseberry + Elderflower/ Blackcurrant + Mint/ Mango + Lime Zest/ Nectarine + Basil…





Isaac’s Restaurant on McCurtain Street in Cork are now serving Brunch every Saturday from 10:30am to 2:30pm. Their ala carte menu includes Bloody Marys, freshly squeezed orange juice, homemade granola, Kilbegan Organic Oats Porridge with soft brown sugar and cream, organic yoghurt, fresh seasonal fruit, Irish Farmhouse cheeses, Eggs Benedict, Full Irish…021 450 3805 –


Date for Your Diary


A Taste of West Cork Food Festival – Skibbereen – West Cork – Monday 10th to Sunday 16th September, 2012.


Summer Theatre

Homemade crisps, summer fruit popsicles, praline ice cream cones, at the interval in the Grain Store. Rave reviews for Tuesdays with Morrie last week so don’t miss 47 Roses written and performed by Peter Sheridan. Early dinner 6pm at Ballymaloe House and play €65.00. Theatre tickets €20.00 – Booking 021 4652531.


Camilla Plum

My friend Camilla Plum from Copenhagen has been staying with me for the past few days. She lives about forty five minutes outside the city on a beautiful organic farm called Fuglebjerggaard. Apart from vegetables and soft fruit orchards they have 160 sheep, grow their own wheat barley and rye, and the freshly milled flour is used for bread and the barley malted to make beer. Both are sold in the farm shop on the farm as well as the preserves, herb salts and sugar and spice mixes that Camilla makes.

Over 100 different varieties of chilli are grown, seeds are saved and Camilla, who is a beautiful natural cook, writes cookbooks and also does TV series. Don’t ask me how they do it all but while she’s been staying with me I got a glimpse, she wanders through the farm and gardens and into the greenhouse and comes back into the kitchen with baskets and bags of herbs, vegetables and fruit and turns them into delicious ‘totally Camilla’ things. When we went for a drive through country lanes to the beach, we stopped to pick white fluffy meadowsweet for cordial; she found me another plant called Houttuynia Cordata. It has distinctive variegated green, red and yellow splashed leaves and is delicious in salads or used as herb – it tastes a bit like coriander.

When we drove through Shanagarry village midmorning on Sunday, we bought some freshly picked redcurrants from the GIY (Grow it Yourself) and OOOBY (Out of Your Own Backyard) members selling their surplus fresh produce along the wall close to the Shanagarry Design Centre. It’s a brilliant idea and greatly welcomed by the local community who are delighted to be able to buy garden produce and some preserves, freshly baked cakes and spotted dog at very reasonable prices.

Back in the kitchen once again Camilla popped the redcurrants into a glass jar, stirred in sugar and gave me a taste of what is called ‘Shaken Fruit’ in Denmark. It was so fresh and delicious and keeps for months or longer, I can imagine it is delicious with lamb or venison but also with goat cheese, rice pudding, carrageen…

For supper, she spatchcocked a couple of chickens early in the afternoon, sprinkled with lots of chopped tarragon, lemon thyme, elderflower and chilli salt and extra-virgin olive oil over the skin. They were simply roasted and served with roast new potatoes with capers and goats cheese – divine.

A foray into the greenhouse produced lots of little misshapen but very ripe tomatoes, so these were squished into Kilner jars with a couple of sprigs of basil and a glug of extra-virgin olive oil. Camilla makes hundreds of jars of these preserved tomatoes at home and uses them in sauces, salads and on bruschetta and pizzas all winter. They cooked slowly in the cool oven of my ancient aga overnight.

Camilla makes it all look so simple, like so many natural cooks she scarcely measures but judges by eye and feel and taste. I did my best to record and measure as she cooks and here are the results.


Camilla’s Preserved Tomatoes


Makes 2 Kilner jars


675g (1lb 8ozs) approximately very ripe tomatoes

5-6 basil leaves

3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon of Maldon sea salt

2-3 cloves of garlic


2 x 2 pint sterilised Kilner glass jars with lids.


Cut the big tomatoes – leave small ones whole. Stuff them in the Kilner jars and press tight. Add the extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon herb or Maldon sea salt, cloves of garlic and a sprig of basil. Close and seal the jars and bake at 110ºC/225°F/Gas Mark 1/4 until tomatoes are soft (3-4 hours) or until the tomatoes have softened and are cooked.

Keeps forever!


Fresh Bay Leaf Salt


Camilla Plum used coarse grey salt from Trapani


125g (4 1/2oz) Sel de Guérande (1/2 packet of Maldon sea salt)

young fresh bay leaves – 2 fistfuls – stalks removed

3 cloves of garlic, crushed


Destalk the bay leaves; transfer the leaves to a food processor.  Whizz with the crushed garlic and half the salt.  When juicy and green turn out onto a plate. Add the remainder of the salt. Dry on a flat platter – 4-5 days.  Store in a glass jar or jars.


Use with beef, roast potatoes, either add at the beginning with extra virgin olive oil or sprinkle over at the end for a fresh bay taste.


Nordic Cucumber and Dill Salad


Makes enough for 6-8


2 large fresh cucumbers

5 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 fistfuls of dill plus soft stalks chopped


Slice the cucumbers thinly –put into a bowl, add the cider vinegar, sugar, salt and chopped dill.


Toss well, leave for at least an hour.  Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary.


Serve with fish, lamb, chicken…



Shaken Berries


A Nordic way of preserving Summer fruits.


Redcurrants, blackcurrants, lingonberries, white currants, ripe gooseberries…are delicious preserved in this way. They keep forever!

Eat with cheese, venison, pork, melon…


Fresh ripe redcurrants (preferably organic)

60% fruit to 40% sugar or more to taste.


Put the fruit into a glass Kilner jar or jars, add sugar and stir well so the berries are bruised. Cover and keep in a cool place or refrigerator.


Strawberry and Rose Petal Jam


Makes 2 -3 pots


1kg (2¼lb) strawberries

1 litre (1¾ pints) of rose petals from fragrant old roses

450g (1lb) sugar

Freshly squeezed juice of ½ to 1 lemon


Put the strawberries in a wide stainless steel saucepan and cook over a brisk heat until the juices run and the fruit breaks down. Add the rose petals and hot sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar, bring back to the boil and continue to cook for 5 – 8 minutes until it reaches a set. Add the freshly squeezed lemon juice. Test for a set by putting about a teaspoon of jam on a cold plate, leaving it for a few minutes in a cool place. It should wrinkle when pressed with a finger. Remove from the heat immediately. Pour into sterilised jars and store in a cool place.


Verbena, Chilli, Ginger and Lemon Thyme Sugar


1 handful Moroccan mint

3 big handfuls fresh lemon verbena, leaves stripped off the stalks

1 inch knob of ginger chopped

2 tablespoons lemon thyme

2-3 Kaffir lime leaves if available

1/2 chilli

1 fistful of lemon basil

250-450g (9oz – 1lb) sugar


Put the leaves into the food processor; add ginger and lemon thyme leaves plus a couple of kaffir lime leaves if you have them. Add 110g (4oz) of sugar, whizz until blended, add rest of sugar and whizz another second, one can add less or more sugar.


Spread out on a tray or platter.  Leave to dry for 5-6 days even a week or use immediately.


For a hot drink

Pour boiling water over about a tablespoon of the Verbena Sugar in a glass, add lemon juice to taste.


For a cold drink

Add flat or sparkling water and lemon juice, add some rum if you fancy.




Darina’s Book of the Week

No Need to Knead – Handmade Artisan Breads in 90 Minutes by Suzanne Dunaway. Suzanne uses no preservatives or additives of any kind, her ingredients are simply flour, water, yeast and salt – and, passion.You’ll find recipes for focaccia, ciabatta, pane rustico and pizza as well as breads from around the world such as baguette, sourdough flapjacks, blini, muffins, corn bread, brioche, African Spiced bread, kulich and kolaches. In addition many of the basic bread doughs are fat-free, sugar-free and dairy-free making then perfect for people on strict dietary or allergy regimes. Published by Grubb Street Press.

Charity Event – The Ballymaloe Cookery School Gardens will be open in aid of The Lismore Music Festival on Thursday, 9th August from 2.30pm – 5.30pm – Tickets are €12.50, includes afternoon tea – children and OAP’s half price.


Learn how to prune your Apples, Pears, Plums, Cherry trees into Ornamental Fans and Espaliers with with Susan Turner at Ballymaloe Cookery School on Monday 13th August 9:00am to 2:00pm. Both decorative and functional – it’s a great way to grow a wide variety of fruit in a limited space. You’ll learn how to grow apples and pears as cordons, espaliers and step-overs. Fan trained peaches, plums, cherries, apricots and figs. 021 – 4646785 or


Past Letters