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 –

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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