ArchiveOctober 2012

Dunany Organic Flour

Andrew and Leonie Workman from Dunany in Co Louth are unique; they grow, mill, pack and distribute their organic spelt, rye and wheat from their farm. They’ve only been selling their produce for a year and a half and already it has developed quite a following and their fan club’s growing. Recently they came down to Ballymaloe Cookery School to tell their story at a Slow Food event. Andrew and Leonie met at agricultural college in the UK and then returned to Ireland to their family farm where they farmed conventionally for 23 years. Gradually it became more challenging as the cost of fertilisers increased and they became increasingly aware and concerned about the damage they were doing to the environment and the land.

In 2004 they embarked on a tour of organic farms in Ireland and the UK and after much soul searching, eventually picked up courage to convert to organic. They went into conversion in 2004. A couple of tough years ensued, their yields dropped by two thirds but they were still getting conventional prices and couldn’t charge the organic premium until 2006 when they were fully certified with the Organic Trust. Gradually the wildlife and birds returned to the farmlands and now there are kites, kestrels, buzzards, barn owls, sea otters and they have even spotted a pole cat once again and a natural harmony has returned to the landscape.

Initially they grew organic grain for animal feed but then prices fell in the UK so understandably their customers started to import the cheaper grain. A new direction was needed so they decided to grow rye, spelt and wheat for flour; traditionally rye was grown for thatching in Ireland, it grows 5ft tall and a field of willowy rye rippling in the breeze is a beautiful sight.  Initially it was milled in the local White River watermill in Dunleer.

However when the river was low, milling became problematic so they eventually sourced a stone mill through connections in Poland and Germany and now have a mill on the farm which grinds 50kgs an hour. Andrew and Leonie employ a couple of WOOFERS and now supply up to fifty outlets around the country. The demand is increasing as more people who have wheat intolerance find they can tolerate spelt without ill effects. Coeliacs however cannot eat spelt.  Try these easy bread recipes from Dunany.

Dunany’s Irish Soda Bread


275 g (10oz) Dunany wholemeal flour

80g (3oz) strong plain flour

1 teaspoon bread soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 egg

280ml (1/2 pint) buttermilk

50g (2oz) mixed seeds – linseed, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds


You will need 1 well-greased 450g (1lb) loaf tin.


Preheat the oven to gas mark 5, 190ºC/375ºF.


Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then beat the egg and buttermilk together and add to the dry ingredients. Mix together well until you have a wet consistency. Transfer the dough into the tin, level the top, sprinkle with seeds and bake in the centre of the oven for 50 – 60 minutes.


Turn it straight out onto the wire rack to cool.


Dunany’s Spelt Bread


700g (1 ½ lb) Dunany’s organic spelt flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon brown sugar

2 teaspoon bread soda

1 egg

400ml (14fl oz)  buttermilk

200ml (7fl oz) water


You will need 2 well-greased 500g loaf tins.


Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 200ºC, 329ºF


Combine all the dry ingredients together. Beat the egg into the buttermilk and water and mix into the dry ingredients to a dropping consistency.


Divide the mixture into the loaf tins and put into the pre-heated oven. After 15 minutes turn down the heat of the oven to gas mark 4, 150ºC, 302ºF and bake for a further 30 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.


Dunany’s Rye Bread

500g (18oz) Dunany organic rye flour

200g (7oz) strong white flour

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons bread soda

1 egg

350ml (12 fl oz) buttermilk

300ml (12fl oz) water


You will need two well-greased 500g (1lb) loaf tins


Preheat oven to gas mark 7, 220ºC- 478ºF. Mix all dry ingredients together. Beat egg into the buttermilk and add to the dry ingredients. Mix together to make a dropping consistency.

Divide mixture into 2 x 500g (1lb) loaf tins and leave to stand for 30 minutes. Place in a pre-heated oven and bake for 35 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.


Rye and Caraway Seed Bread


Make 1 loaf or 3 small loaves


12 ozs (350g/3 cups) strong white flour

5 ozs (150g/generous 1 cup) dark rye flour

3/4 oz (20g) caraway seeds

1 teaspoon salt

1 oz (25g) fresh yeast

1 1/2 ozs (45g) butter

warm water


1 loaf tin 5 x 8 inches (13 x 20cm) approx. (optional)


Crumble and mix the yeast with 1/2 pint (300ml/1 1/4 cups) lukewarm water. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl and add the liquid yeast with extra warm water if necessary to make a good soft but not sticky dough.  Add butter and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place. Punch down and shape into 2 or 3 loaves. Cover and rise again.  Alternatively bake in a well-oiled loaf tin.


Brush with egg wash, sprinkle with poppy seeds and slash the top in a cross with a sharp knife.


Bake at 230°C/450°F/regulo 8 for 40-45 minutes approx. or until the bread sounds hollow when knocked underneath. For small loaves 25 mins for a loaf in a tin.

Cool on a wire rack.


Rye and Caraway Bread Sticks


1 batch of rye and caraway dough (see recipe)


Preheat the oven to 250°C/500°F.


Divide the dough in 12g (1/2 oz) or 7.5g (1/4 ozs) balls.  Roll each piece into a 25cm (10 inch) or 12cm (5 inch) long piece.  Scatter some extra caraway seeds and Maldon sea salt on the worktop and roll the bread stick lightly.  Transfer to a heavy baking tray and continue until the tray is full.  Spray lightly with a water mister and bake for 7 – 8 minutes or until crisp and golden.  Transfer the bread sticks to a wire rack and continue until all the bread sticks are baked.


Debbie Shaw’s Beetroot and Walnut Cake

Walnuts are a great source of omega 3 and omega 6 essential fats. Beetroot is a powerful liver and gall bladder detoxifier and can assist in the elimination of kidney stones. In addition it helps build healthy blood and keeps it clean. It has a high mineral content including calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and manganese. The leaves are also very nutritious and can be put in salads.

Serves 8-10

125g  (4 ½ oz) fine wholewheat Dunany spelt flour
125g (4 ½ oz) white Dunany spelt flour
1 generous rounded teaspoon of baking powder
1 pinch of salt
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground allspice
125g (4 ½ oz) of Xylo Sweet (available in Ballymaloe Cookery School Farm Shop)
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
260g (9 ½ oz) of beetroot, peeled and coarsely grated (wear plastic gloves)
50g (2oz) of walnuts, chopped
200ml (7floz) sunflower oil
4 free range organic eggs


Crème Fraiche icing (optional)

225g (8oz) Low fat crème fraiche (or low fat cream cheese if unavailable)
50g (2oz) sieved icing sugar
zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gasmark 4.  Oil and line an 20.5 cm (8”) round or square tin, on the base and the sides with parchment paper.

Sift the flours, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and stir in the ground cinnamon, allspice, Xylo Sweet and grated beetroot.  Next stir in the chopped walnuts. Beat the eggs, maple syrup and oil together and stir gently into the dry ingredients until they are combined.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the pre-heated oven for 50 minutes or until a skewer when inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool and make the icing.  Whisk the crème fraiche and icing sugar together with an electric beater. Add the lemon juice and rind and spread on top of the cake with a palette knife.


Darina’s Book of the Week

The Food Children Eat by Joanna Blythman. Recent announcement that advertising junk food is banned during children’s programs on TV is to be welcomed but it’s only part of the solution to the drastic deterioration in the national diet and the overall cost to the exchequer and tax payer of the growing obesity problem. And it starts with our children so how can we produce children who prefer a mandarin to a gummy bear? The avalanche of clever marketing of supposedly healthy food causes a nightmare scenario for parents who want to escape the junk food treadmill. Despairing parents of new-borns and toddlers will find award winning journalist Joanna Blythman’s book The Food our Children Eat inspiring, informative and best of all empowering.  It’s published by Harper Perennial for Circa and in my opinion is a ‘must have’

Follow Joanne’s excellent food blog


Hot Tips

Savour Kilkenny Food Festival is on until Monday 29th October. Lots of really exciting and interesting events to attend and participate in including Café Challenge today at 4.15pm in the Demonstration Marquee. Watch a café being built before your eyes and learn what it takes to make a really good café. Blathnaid Bergin is the Restaurant Advisor and she will challenge teams led by Kilkenny’s own restaurant industry superstars to build a café in 60 minutes. Will it be more Fawlty Towers than the Ritz? To see all the cookery demonstrations and events


Sophie Kooks

Without question Farmers Markets are one of the very best places to trial a food product. Set up a pretty stall, then offer your customers a taste of your creation with a smile– watch the reaction, if they buy, great but more importantly wait and see if they come back for more next week. This is by far the best market research – it’s free and better still you get lots of direct feedback and suggestions for ways to tweak it and maybe even some new flavours.

Young food entrepreneurs Sophie Morris and Graham Clarke started this way with their Kooky Dough, they mixed, chopped and wrapped till the early hours, took a deep breath and set up a stall at the Stillorgan Farmers Market. The reaction was instantly positive, now two years later their cookie dough is made in large quantities and sold not only right across Ireland but also in Tesco and Waitrose in the UK, Monoprix in France and at Spinney’s Supermarkets in the United Arab Emirates – another brilliantly successful fresh food story.

Sophie, an energetic and beautiful 28 year old is another of ‘my babies’ she did a 12 Week Certificate Cookery Course here at Ballymaloe Cookery School in April 2008.

After she’d studied economics and social studies at Trinity, she met Graham Clarke her boyfriend and business partner, they famously turned down the investment offers on Dragon’s Den and decided to go it alone.

They both work like crazy to keep on top of their business which had gone into orbit. Despite the work pace Sophie is determined to make nourishing a home cooked meal everyday which she believes is the key to staying on top of her hectic lifestyle and guess what, in her precious ‘spare time’ she has written her first cookery book with people just like herself in mind busy people who love food and are determined to pull together a nutritious satisfying meal using basic ingredients which are in season and are readily available at the corner shop. Most of Sophie’s meals can be cooked in half an hour or so they are super fresh and fun. How about some of these ideas to whet your appetite.

Sophie Kooks – Quick and Easy Feelgood Food is published by Gill and Macmillan.


Sophie Morris’s Lentil Shepherd’s Pie


My mum taught me this variation on traditional shepherd’s pie years ago and it is absolutely delicious. I’ve cooked it for many people who were initially sceptical but later won over and in total agreement that you definitely don’t miss the meat when eating it. Lentils are filling, nutritious and economical – a must-have for your store cupboard.


This pie freezes really well so you can make a big batch and keep the leftovers.


Serves 4–6

olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 carrots, grated

1 celery stick, finely chopped

400g (14oz) puy lentils, rinsed and drained (green or red lentils also work well)

1 x 400g (140z) can chopped tomatoes

2 heaped tablespoons tomato purée

600ml (1 pint) chicken or vegetable stock, simmering

1 teaspoon chilli powder or 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

a sprig of thyme

salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the Mash


1.2kg (1 ¾ lb) floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper, peeled and halved

50g (2oz) butter

50ml (2fl oz) milk


Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Heat a lug of olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery and cook gently for about 10 minutes, until softened. Add the lentils, tomatoes, tomato purée, stock, chilli powder and thyme. Stir well and season. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 40–50 minutes, until the lentils are softened. You may need to add more stock (or boiling water) throughout cooking if all the liquid is absorbed before the lentils are cooked.

Meanwhile, make the mash. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan with just enough cold water to cover them. Add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Boil for 15–20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and easily broken with a fork. Drain them in a colander and leave for 2–3 minutes, until the steam has evaporated. (Always drain potatoes really well or you’ll end up with watery mash.) Put the drained potatoes back into the dry saucepan and mash thoroughly with a potato masher. The harder you work the mash, the fluffier it will become! Once the lumps are gone, add the butter and mash again. Add the milk, stirring until combined. Season to taste.

Once the lentils are cooked, remove the sprig of thyme and pour the mixture into a deep ovenproof dish, leaving room for the mash topping. Arrange the mash evenly on top of the lentil mixture and bake the pie in the oven for 20 minutes or until nicely browned.

Serve on warmed plates, with a green salad on the side.


Sophie Morris’s Easy Kofta Curry


‘Kofta’ is the word for meatballs in the Middle East and South Asia. This beef kofta recipe with its warming curry sauce is a really simple one and so quick to prepare. Lamb kofta is also really nice, so you can swap the beef for minced lamb if you like.


Serves 4–6


700g (1 ½ lb) lean minced beef

a thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 teaspoons chilli powder

salt and freshly ground pepper

olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

600ml (1 pint) passata (crushed, sieved tomatoes) or 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes

2 heaped tablespoons medium curry powder (or mild, if you don’t want much spice)

1/2 teaspoon sugar


Place the minced beef in a bowl along with the ginger, garlic and chilli powder. Season and mix with your hands until well combined. Roll the mixture into rounds about the size of golf balls and set aside.

Heat a few lugs of olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Fry the onion for 4–5 minutes, until softened. Add the passata, curry powder and sugar and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, season and leave the sauce to simmer over a low heat while you fry the koftas.

Heat a few lugs of olive oil in a large frying pan. Fry the koftas for 2–3 minutes, turning them until lightly browned all over. (You might need to do this in batches.) Carefully place the cooked koftas into the passata sauce and simmer very gently for 15–20 minutes, turning the koftas occasionally during cooking, until they have set and the sauce has reduced nicely.


Serve on warmed plates with basmati rice and a dollop of natural yogurt.


Sophie Morris’s Sirloin Steak Salad with Asian Greens


Asian flavours work really well in salads, making them very refreshing. The dressing used in this salad is so tasty – it’s one that works really well in lots of other salads, too.

Serves 4


For the Dressing


2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

3 tablespoons soy sauce

juice of 1 lime

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons sugar

a handful of raw peanuts (optional)

4 x 150g (5oz) sirloin steaks, removed from the fridge 15 minutes before cooking

salt and freshly ground black pepper

olive oil

1 bunch of asparagus (about 12 spears)

1 head of broccoli, broken into small florets

100g (3 ½ oz) French beans, tails removed

4 handfuls of mixed baby salad leaves

a handful of fresh coriander leaves, roughly torn

a handful of fresh mint leaves, roughly torn


First prepare the dressing. Mix the chillies and garlic in a small bowl. Add the soy sauce, lime juice, olive oil and sugar. Mix well, taste, tweak the flavours to your liking and set aside.

Now roast the peanuts, if using. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and add the peanuts to the dry pan. Stir them for about 5 minutes, until they’re roasted. They will start to turn brown and the red skins will turn crisp and start to come away from the nuts. Empty the nuts into a clean tea towel, wrap it around them and rub the towel with your hands to remove the skins from the nuts. When most of the skins are gone, roughly chop the nuts and set aside.

Now cook the steaks. Heat a grill pan or frying pan over a high heat. Lay the steaks on a chopping board and trim off any excess fat. Sprinkle pepper on both sides of each steak, rub lightly with olive oil and, just before placing in the pan, sprinkle both sides with salt. Cook for 2–3 minutes each side for rare. Allow to rest on a plate for 5–10 minutes, then slice the steaks thinly.


Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Bend each asparagus stalk until it snaps. Each stalk will break in a different place, giving you different lengths of spears. Keep the spears and discard the woody ends. Add the asparagus spears, broccoli and French beans to a large pan of boiling salted water, ensuring they are completely submerged. Boil rapidly for 4–5 minutes, until the vegetables are just cooked and retain a little bite. Drain in a colander.

Arrange the salad leaves and herbs in a large serving dish. Just before serving, add the cooked vegetables, drizzle over the dressing and toss well. Scatter the steak slices on top and sprinkle with the peanuts. Serve immediately.


Sophie Morris’s Asian Mango Salad


This is such a colourful salad and it looks really gorgeous on the plate. It’s a great starter to pair with an Asian main course, as it leaves you wanting more of those yummy Asian flavours. The crunchy, sweet, tangy, spicy combination in this salad is simply amazing.

Serves 4

For the dressing

juice of 2 limes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

a handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

75g ((3oz) raw cashew nuts

2 ripe mangos, peeled and cut into thin strips
a handful of French beans, tailed and halved lengthways
1 red pepper, finely sliced
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
a handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped

Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt. Mix well and set aside.

Heat a small pan over a medium heat and add the cashews. Toast them for a few minutes, tossing regularly, until golden. Remove the cashews from the pan, leave them to cool, and then roughly chop them.

Place the mango, French beans, pepper and onion in a serving bowl. Pour over the dressing and toss well to coat evenly. Just before serving, sprinkle over the mint and cashews.


Sophie Morris’s Hazelnut Swirl Cookies


At Kooky Dough, we spend a lot of time experimenting with fun recipes using cookie dough. It’s such a versatile ingredient and you can use it to make some really extravagant baked treats and desserts.

This recipe is probably my favourite thing to do with cookie dough. The Nutella oozes out of the warm cookies and they’re just irresistible! The cookies are super-quick to make if you cheat and use ready-made cookie dough; but if you want to make them from scratch, this recipe shows you how.


Makes 10–12 big cookies
300g (10 ½ oz) plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon bread soda (bicarbonate of soda)
225g (10oz) butter, at room temperature
225g (10oz) caster sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a jar of Nutella

Sift the flour, salt and bread soda into a bowl.

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric beater, until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract and mix until combined. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture a little at a time, until it’s fully combined and the mixture becomes a soft dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board and shape it into a rough square. Wrap it in cling film and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line a few baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove the dough from the fridge, discard the cling film and tip the dough onto a large sheet of lightly floured parchment paper. Lay a fresh sheet of cling film on top of the dough and use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a rough rectangular shape of 1–2cm thickness. If you don’t have a rolling pin, you can shape the dough using your hands over the cling film. Once the dough is shaped, discard the cling film.

Dip a knife into a mug of hot water, then into the jar of Nutella (this will help loosen the Nutella). Spread Nutella generously on top of the dough, leaving a 1 cm edge untouched all around.

Using the parchment underneath the dough as a guide, roll the dough into a tight log (ensuring the parchment paper doesn’t catch). Cut the log into 1 cm slices (or thicker if you like).

Arrange the cookie dough slices on the lined baking sheets. Ensure they are well spaced, so that they have room to spread out in the oven.

Bake for 10–12 minutes, until lightly golden. The Nutella swirls will look amazing at this stage!

Leave the cookies to cool on the trays for a few minutes, before transferring them to a wire rack.

Enjoy with a cup of tea, or dig out the vanilla ice cream for a yummy dessert!




Some of you may be familiar with Bob Flowerdew a presenter on BBC 2 Gardener’s World and a regular panel member of BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time. A set of his excellent gardening books ‘Bob’s Basics’ published by Kyle Cathie have just arrived at the Garden Shop at Ballymaloe Cookery School. You can buy the entire attractive set of six hard back books – practically a complete organic gardening reference library – or just one. Also available in the shop are organic vegetables, picked fresh every day from the glass house, fresh free range organic eggs and delicious, unctuous Ballymaloe Cookery School yoghurt – Don’t forget Saturday Pizza’s…021 4646785.


The Field Kitchen run by Clancy Potts and Mick Hayes at the Blackbird Pub in Ballycotton, East Cork serve really delicious American style burgers – we asked Clancy what makes the burger ‘American’…“caramelised grilled onions and loads of cheddar or blue cheese with a slather of mayonnaise, oh and really good quality meat”. They get their meat from Clifford’s Butcher in Castlemartyr and their pan-fried fresh fish straight from Trevor Macnamara’s boat in Ballycotton served with fresh hand cut chips. Open from 6pm Friday and Saturday and 5pm on Sunday. Contact Clancy Potts – : 086 230 8193.

A visit to Michelle Obama’s Vegetable Garden at the White House – Washington DC

Ever since Michelle Obama planted a vegetable garden on the South Lawn of the White House in March, 2009 she has been a big hero of mine.  This action has sent a really strong message about the importance of fresh food and the joy of growing your own to families across America.  It has raised the profile and awareness of local and sustainable food both at the White House and nationally to an unprecedented level.

In a country where 2/3 of the population are either over-weight or obese and 1 in 3 children (1 in 2 if your skin colour happens to be black) have diabetes, this message is particularly badly needed. In the US a country of 210 million people, 40 million have no health care so it’s a timely reminder that ‘our food can be our medicine’ but not if it’s mass produced and denatured.

On a recent trip to Washington DC, I had the opportunity to visit the vegetable garden. We had an early start on Monday morning to be at the gates of the White House by 9.30am. First, I forgot my passport so we had to whizz back for that, then when we arrived our names didn’t appear to be on the list, and there was NO chatting up the security guys! Frantic texting and phone calls, eventually we discovered the time had been changed to 10.15am.

After several other dramas, we managed to contact Hannah, private assistant to the First lady. Chef Bill Yosses came and rescued us and we were admitted, phew! It would have been such an anti-climax to get that far and then be turned away politely but VERY firmly.

The vegetable garden is great, much smaller than I had imagined, for some reason I thought it was several acres but in fact it’s just 980 square ft.

Beautiful soil, a very impressive selection of really healthy produce, they even had a sea kale plant and several heirloom varieties of seed from past President Thomas Jefferson’s Garden at Monticello including a beautiful purple flowering hyacinth bean that I’d love to grow. No beets though – President Obama doesn’t care for them.

Bill Yosses who is pastry chef and Cris Comerford executive chef of the White House showed us around, I was tagging along with a group of food writers who were having a conference in Washington DC that weekend. No sign of the first family, everyone was at the Democratic conference in Charlotte where Michelle gave a cracker of a speech.

It’s definitely not just a PR exercise. According to Bill, the main raison d’être for the veggie patch was that Michelle really wanted to have fresh nourishing food for the family and it is also used as an educational tool for local school kids, but Michelle herself also gets her hands in the soil from time to time and insists on hands-on assistance from the family – how great is that?

They have an impressive composting system and a bee hive but not a hen in sight, so I was trying to encourage Bill Yosses to get hens, lots of great food scraps from the White House kitchens to feed them, the manure could go on to the compost heap to make the soil more fertile, a brilliant holistic system, kids would love them…plus the President could ‘go to work on an egg’ every day!

He’s totally on for it but it not that simple at the White House apparently…

Here are a few recipes inspired by the produce in Michelle Obama’s garden.



Broad Bean, Mint and Ricotta Bruschetta


For 2 bruschetta

110 – 175g (4 – 6 oz) podded broad beans

extra-virgin olive oil, about 4 tablespoons

zest of 1 lemon and a little juice, freshly squeezed

10 fresh mint leaves roughly chopped

flaky Maldon sea salt and black pepper

2 thick slices sour dough bread

a small garlic clove

3 tablespoons fresh ricotta


Put the broad beans into boiling salted water for 3 – 4 minutes, remove and plunge into cold water, then drain and skin them. Put the beans in a small bowl and dress them with extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest, a little freshly squeezed lemon juice and most of the chopped mint. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Toast or grill the slices of bread on a hot pan grill. Rub each slice with the cut side of a garlic clove. Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil. Season the fresh ricotta with salt and pepper to taste, then spread on to the hot, garlicky bread. Top the broad beans with the remaining chopped mint and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.



José Pizzaro’s Crisp Deep Fried Aubergine Fritters with Honey



This is another really good, easy tapas dish. The delicious subtle flavour of the soft aubergines comes through the crispy coating and the sticky honey make this a heavenly dish.


Serves 4 – 6


300g (10 ½ oz) aubergines, cut into 7 – 8mm thick slices

110g (4oz) plain flour

5 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for deep-frying

150ml (5fl oz cold water

2 free-range eggs whites

clear honey, for drizzling

fine sea salt


Sprinkle the aubergine slices lightly on both sides with salt and set aside for 30 minutes. Sift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the centre and add the oil and the water. Gradually beat together to make a smooth batter. Set aside to rest, along with the aubergines.


Pat the aubergine slices dry with kitchen paper. Pour 1cm of olive oil into a large deep frying pan and heat it to 180°C/350°F/Mark 4.


Whisk the egg whites into soft peaks and fold them into the batter. Dip the aubergine slices, a few at a time, into the batter, add them to the hot oil and deep-fry for one minute on each side until crisp and golden. Leave to drain briefly on kitchen paper and serve immediately while they are still hot and crisp, drizzled generously with honey.


José Pizzaro’s Roasted Squash with Dried Chilli, Honey, Cinnamon and Pine Nuts


This can be a side dish for any grilled fish or meat. I serve it with Iberico pork cheeks or any game stew. It’s also delicious on its own.


Serves 4 – 6


1.5 kg (3lb 5oz) unprepared squash (butternut, onion or kabocha)

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 fat garlic clove, finely chopped

½ teaspoon crushed dried chillies

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

25g (1oz) pine nuts

50ml (2fl oz) clear honey

sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Mark 6. Halve the squash through the stem end, scoop out the seeds, peel and then cut into 2.5 – 3cm (1in to 1¼in) thick wedges.

Put the oil into a roasting tin with the garlic, crushed dried chillies, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Mix well together. Add the wedges of squash to the tin and turn them over a few times in the oil mixture until well coated. Sit them on their curved edges and roast them in the oven for 20 minutes.

Spread the pine nuts onto a baking tray and roast them in the oven alongside the squash for 5 – 6 minutes, giving them a stir now and then until they are all golden. Remove and set aside.

Remove the squash from the oven and brush the wedges with some of the honey. Return to the oven and toast for a further 15 minutes, brushing with more of the honey and then the caramelised juices every five minutes until the squash is tender and slightly caramelised. Brush one last time with the juices from the pan, pile onto a serving plate and scatter over the pine nuts.


Honey Mousse with Lemon Verbena Peaches


Serves 6 – 8


2 eggs

3 teaspoons of gelatin

3 tablespoons of water

1 pint of whipping cream

175g (6oz) of best quality honey

1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier


For the Lemon Verbena Peaches


4 large ripe and juicy peaches

1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 tablespoon finely chopped lemon verbena or lemon thyme leaves

1 tablespoon lemon juice


Beat the eggs in a small bowl until it froths slightly. Sponge the gelatin in the cold water and then dissolve gently over a low heat.

Whip the cream to the soft peak stage. Add the honey to the dissolved gelatin and stir until smooth, if necessary keeping the gelatin over a low heat. Cool this mixture until it starts to thicken slightly. Add the beaten egg to the cream and then mix with the honey mixture. Finally add the Grand Marnier to taste. Chill for a couple of hours to set.

Shortly before serving, peel the peaches.

Put the peaches into a Pyrex bowl. Cover the peaches with boiling water and leave for 30 seconds, then remove and drop into iced water. The skins should now peel away easily, halve them, remove the stones and cut the flesh into thin slices. Put them into a bowl with sugar, lemon verbena or lemon thyme leaves and lemon juice and mix together gently. Allow to macerate for at least 15 – 20 minutes.

Serve with honey mousse.


Hot Tips


Broken Crow Theatre Company bring Madame Chavelle back to Ballyvolane House Friday 26th and Saturday  27th  October 2012 at 7.30pm. Susan who works in the office, went to this performance in 2010 and pronounced it one of the most entertaining and enjoyable evenings she’d experienced. Guests enjoy a delicious three-course meal and watch the play that takes place right in front of you in the dining room.  The play is set in 1919 when three lost souls arrive at Ballyvolane House. They seek an audience with the mysterious Madame Chavelle – played by Paula McGlinchey. Each one has a tale to tell and an answer to find, but can she really do all she claims? Can she really speak with the dead? Stay the night after the play if you dare… to book phone 025 36349 email


Glamorous Secret Pop Up Suppers with Gillian Hegarty and Sarah Gornall at Kilcolman Rectory. Gillian will cook a delicious four course meal for a maximum of 24 people so it will be very special, she uses fresh vegetables and fruit from the garden and can cater for coeliac and vegetarians.  Kilcolman Rectory is situated between Bandon and Clonakilty, just off the main road. Booking is essential, phone 0238822913 –


Learn to make soda bread in Caroline Rigney’s kitchen. Don’t miss the Curraghchase Slow Food Celebration tomorrow Sunday 14th October 2012, 12.00 noon till 5pm. Events include – pig and poultry keeping walk and talk, bee keeping demo and talk, reaping, binding, threshing and bailing – saving the harvest – the old way. Corn and wheat grinding, organic vegetable growing advice from Manna Organics, cookery demonstration by Andrew Carey and a butter making demonstration, (with Jo Flynn of Free Range Kids) Two Tamworth pigs will be roasted over aged beech wood on the front lawn. 087 2834754  Email:


Longboat Quay – Florida

I’m in Florida, it’s hot on Longboat Quay – over 27 degrees centigrade – even though it’s late afternoon. The long white sandy beach is almost deserted, there’s a pleasant breeze which the locals tell me is the tail end of hurricane Isaac. It’s whipping up little waves on the warm sea, a few people are bathing but I’m lying back enjoying the cormorants and pelicans diving for supper. Every now and then there’s a terrific racket obviously a shoal of tiny fish under the water. Along the shore are sandpipers, terns, allies, oystercatchers and avocets all lined up in the same direction like gentlemen in tuxedos. Two white egrets are hopping along the water’s edge snaffling up sand hoppers. The birds are so tame one can walk up close to them and they scarcely move.

I’m here in Florida to keep a long overdue promise I made almost a decade ago to Marcella Hazan the doyenne of Italian food  and her husband Victor before they left Italy to spend their retirement in Florida. Years can pass quickly full of good resolutions, life intervenes but real promises can haunt you until they are fulfilled, so here I am and what a joy to find Marcella and Victor a little older of course but just as beautiful as ever. Marcella has been a huge influence on my life. I went to her cooking classes in Bologna in the late seventies before I opened Ballymaloe Cookery School and later brought back a TV crew to film Simply Delicious in Italy at her apartment in Venice. Her books Classic Italian Cookbook and The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking are the yardstick by which others are measured.

Last night we met for supper in a local restaurant overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, we chatted and reminisced and today Marcella cooks me lunch in her apartment overlooking the beach on the Gulf of Mexico. Marcella is in the kitchen when I arrive –frying tiny quartered artichoke hearts slowly in extra virgin olive oil, there’s a bowl of shelled and deveined white Gulf shrimps close to the cooker. When the artichokes are tender they are spread on the base of a gratin dish, next a layer of white shrimps, then slices of mozzarella and little dabs of butter. The little crispy bits of artichokes scraped from the pan are sprinkled over the top, “all flavour” – Marcella speaks despairingly of those who fail to see the flavour in sediment juices and crispy bits. I see glimpses of the grumpy teacher with the twinkle in her eye that we all so loved.  Of course it’s super delicious and followed by strawberries dressed at the table with a little 25 year old Aceito Balsamico and I remember, it was Marcella who over 30 years ago introduced me to balsamic vinegar and its magical powers to transform something mundane into something altogether exquisite.

Florida was not high on my list of must see places but I’m so glad I eventually made it to Longboat Quay to see the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico and to keep my promise to two of the most inspirational people with whom my path has crossed in life.


Marcella Hazan’s Chicken Roast with Two Lemons

This is the simplest most delicious roast chicken recipe I know – no fat, no basting, no stuffing.

Serves 4

1 x 3-4 lb (1.35-1.8kg) free range chicken

salt salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 small lemons


Trussing needle and string


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

Wash the chicken thoroughly with cold water. Remove any bits of fat from around the vent end. Drain the chicken well and dry thoroughly with a tea towel or kitchen paper.

Rub the salt and freshly ground black pepper with your fingers over all the body and into the cavity. Wash the lemons well and dry them with a tea towel, roll on the counter and prick each of the lemons in at least 20 places with a cocktail stick or skewer.

Put both lemons in the cavity. Close up the opening with cocktail sticks or with a trussing needle and string. Don’t make it absolutely airtight or the chicken may burst!

Put the chicken into a roasting pan, breast side down. Do not add cooking fat of any kind. This bird is self-basting, so don’t worry it won’t stick to the pan. Place it in the upper third of the preheated oven. After 30 minutes, turn the chicken breast side up. Be careful not to puncture the skin.

Cook for another 30-35 minutes then increase the heat to 200C/400F/regulo 6, and cook for a further additional 20 minutes. Calculate between 20-25 minutes total cooking time for each 1 lb (500g). There is no need to turn the chicken again.

Bring the chicken to the table whole, garnished with sprigs flat parsley and leave the lemons inside until it is carved. The juices that run out are perfectly delicious, so be sure to spoon them over the chicken slices. The lemons will have shrivelled up but they still contain some juice; do not squeeze, they may squirt.

Serve immediately.


Marcella Hazan’s Penne with Cauliflower, Garlic and Oil


One of the basic mother sauces for pasta is aglio e oilio, garlic and oil. From it has been spawned a multitudinous brood of sauce where we find most varieties of vegetables. An example is this one, featuring cauliflower.

In this family of sauces additional flavourings such as parsley, hot pepper, and anchovies may be used, although not all need to be present. They are almost invariably sughi in bianco, ‘white’ sauces – that is, without tomato. They are supposed to be served without grated cheese, and that is how I prefer them. But one may do as one pleases, and choose to have either pecorino or Parmesan cheese, depending upon whether one wants the sauce more or less sharp.


For four to six


1 head cauliflower (about 680g (1 ½ lb)

8 tablespoons olive oil

2 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine

6 flat anchovy fillets, chopped

¼ teaspoon chopped red pepper


450g (1lb) penne or other macaroni

2 tablespoons chopped parsley


Strip the cauliflower of all its leaves except for a few of the very tender inner ones. Rinse it in cold water, and cut it in two.

Bring 4 – 5 litres (7 to 8 ¾ pints) water to the boil, and then put in the cauliflower. Cook until tender, but compact – about 25 to 30 minutes. Test it with a fork to know when it’s done. Drain and set aside.

Put the oil, garlic and chopped anchovies into a medium-sized sauté pan. Turn on the heat to medium, and sauté until the garlic becomes a golden brown colour. Stir from time to with a wooden spoon, mashing the anchovies.

Put in the boiled cauliflower, and break it up quickly with a fork, crumbling it into pieces no bigger than a peanut. Turn it thoroughly in the oil, mashing part of it to a pulp.

Add the hot pepper and a liberal amount of salt. Turn up the heat, and cook for a few minutes more, stirring frequently. Then turn off the heat.

Bring 4 – 5 litres (7 – 8 ¾ pints) water to the boil, add a liberal amount of salt, and as soon as the water returns to the boil, put in the pasta. When cooked al dente, tender but firm to the bite, drain it well and transfer it to a warm serving bowl.

Very briefly re-heat the cauliflower and pour all the contents of the pan over the pasta. Toss thoroughly. Add the chopped parsley. Toss again, and serve at once.


Italian Apple Fritters


3 apples of any firm but not sour, cooking variety

50g (2oz) caster sugar

2 tablespoons rum

the peel of 1 lemon grated without digging into the white pith beneath

250ml (8fl oz)

75g (2 ½ oz) plain flour

vegetable oil



Peel and core the apples, and cut them into slices about 1cm/ (3/8 in) in thick.

Put the caster sugar, rum and grated lemon peel into a bowl together with the apple slices. Turn the slices once or twice and let steep for at least 1 hour.


Use the flour and water to make a pastella batter. Put 250ml (8fl oz) water into a soup plate and gradually add the flour, shaking it through a strainer and with a fork constantly beating the mixture that forms. When all the flour has been mixed with water the batter should have the consistency of sour cream. If it is thinner add a little more flour, if it thicker, a little more water.


Pour enough oil into a skillet to come 1cm (1/3 in) up the sides and turn the heat to high.

Take the apple slices out of the bowl and pat them dry with kitchen paper. When the oil is very hot, dip them in the batter and slip as many of them into the skillet as will fit loosely. Fry them to a golden brown on one side, then turn them and do the other side. Transfer them to a cooling  rack to drain or to a platter lined with kitchen paper. Repeat the procedure until all the remaining slices are done. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve while hot.



Marcella Hazan’s Strawberries in Balsamic Vinegar


Serves 6


Marcella Hazan first introduced me to this unlikely sounding combination, it takes a certain amount of courage to try it but believe me it makes strawberries taste exquisitely intense. Aceito Balsamico the aristocrat of Italian vinegars varies enormously, it is precious and expensive, buy the best one you can find and use it sparingly.


2 lbs (900g) strawberries

3-5 tablespoon castor sugar

1-2 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar (Aceito Balsamico)


Shortly before serving, remove the hulls from the berries and cut in half lengthways. Sprinkle with sugar and toss gently. Just before serving add the balsamic vinegar and toss again. Serve immediately.

N.B. this recipe is not successful with wine or malt vinegars.




Hot Tips


Great salads – everyone seems to be talking about the delicious Middle Eastern style salads at Jack Crotty aka Rocket Man’s stall Mahon Point Farmers Market. Also yummy takeaway breakfasts – granola and fruit salad with sumac, honey and thyme yoghurt, all homemade – how about that.


Slow Food Event – Artisan Millers Leonie and Andrew Workman from Dunany Farm, County Louth will tell the story of their organic flour milling and heritage wheat varieties. There is also a short cookery demonstration using spelt flour. At Ballymaloe Cookery School on Tuesday 9th October 7pm. Slow Food Members €6.00 Non Slow Food Members €8.00.  Booking Essential 021 4646785 or E: All Proceeds to support the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project.


Dates for your Diary


Wild & Slow 2012, a unique Slow Food festival that celebrates everything that is good about Irish food: fresh, local, traditional and wild. It’s a yearlong event – follow this on their website – culminating in November at Brooklodge, Macreddin Village, Co Wicklow 11- 12th November 2012.


Savour Kilkenny Festival of Food – Save the days – 25th – 29th October 2012 – lots of interesting and exciting events planned



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