ArchiveDecember 15, 2012

Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre and some Thrifty Recipes

Just back from the 2012 edition of the international Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre, Slow Food’s biannual event which brings together small-scale farmers, artisan producers, fishermen, experts, academics, chefs and young people from over 160 countries. A mind blowing event and an increasing important forum of exchange between producers, consumers and experts on a variety of food issues from biodiversity, food waste, animal welfare, seed saving and patenting of seed. Edible Education and school gardens, land grabbing…indigenous people and local food sovereignty

The opening speech was given by the Director-General of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), José Graziano da Silva. He emphasised the close links between Slow Food and the FAO, with a focus on the problem of hunger in the world. “We can unite our forces in the fight for sufficient food for everyone,” he said. He identified food waste as a crucial problem. “If we managed to cut total food loss and waste by half we would have enough food to feed 1 billion more people”, he said. Da Silva’s message was clear: “with hunger, the only number acceptable is zero”.

A series of speakers then took their turn on stage, bringing stories from every corner of the globe and inspiring both outrage and hope with their experiences. Their stories were recounted through the “words of Terra Madre”, key themes that define the Slow Food movement’s primary concerns. Carlos Vanegas Valdebenito from Chiloé Island, Chile, spoke poetically of Earth. Indian activist and Slow Food vice-president Vandana Shiva talked about Seeds: the “genocide” of farmer suicides in her country and the scandal of biopiracy. Carmen Martinez, from the Slow Food Tehuacán Amaranth Presidium in Mexico, talked about Water, and Dario Fo, Nobel Laureate in Literature, about Hunger, with a bravura performance in the Commedia dell’Arte tradition telling the story of a starving peasant. After a musical interlude from Roy Paci and a multi-ethnic group of musicians, Nikki Henderson from the People’s Grocery in Oakland, California and Alice Waters, Slow Food vice-president and chef, talked about Education. Sergej Ivanov from Serbia spoke about biodiversity, Yoko Sudo from Fukushima, Japan about Energy and Edward Mukiibi, coordinator of the Thousand Gardens in Africa project in Uganda, about Network.

Salone del Gusto is the biggest food fair in the entire world, bigger than SIAL in Paris or the Fancy Food Fair in New York, except it’s all made up of artisan food producers, olive oil and wine makers. Over 200,000 people pour into it over a weekend and leave with bags bulging with foods not just from Europe but from all over the world.

Terra Madre – this is the 5th year. Delegates from 93 countries spoke succinctly for just 5 minutes at the two day Slow Food International Congress which ran concurrently with Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre this year. Slow Food is now emerging as a very strong political voice on a global scale and Terra Madre is showing the way towards a new sustainable form of agriculture which many governments are reluctantly been forced to consider.

The Slow Food Youth Movement has really gathered momentum since the last Terra Madre event in 2010. It’s particularly strong in the Netherlands, Germany, UK and US.

The fight against Food Waste has become a major focus for Slow Food. At present approximately 40% of the food harvest goes to waste. Several countries have brilliant initiatives to heighten awareness of this problem and redistribute ‘food waste’.

In Berlin the Slow Food Youth had a Schnippeldisco (chopping disco) where more than 200 people chopped 1.2 tonnes of discarded vegetables and made massive pots of soup as an ‘act of culinary resistance’ that filled the tummies of 8,000 people next day. Next one is on January 19th in Berlin – I’m hoping to go!

See a brilliant You Tube on the event.

We all need as many thrifty tips for Christmas as possible in this economic climate. I’ve just been to the shops and seen breadcrumbs for sale for more than the price of a loaf of bread for a 250g (9oz) bag, so let me share the secret of how to make your own – it’s so easy and they freeze perfectly for stuffings, gratins, croquettes or buttered crumbs.


How to Make Your Own Homemade Bread Crumbs


First save all left over white bread, for white bread crumbs, cut off the crusts (save for dried crumbs) (see below).


Tear each slice into 3 or 4 pieces, drop into a liquidiser or food processor, whizz for 30 seconds to a minute, hey presto – bread crumbs.  Use immediately or freeze in convenient size bags for use another time.  If you use crumbs include the crusts.  The breadcrumbs will be flecked with lots of crust but these are fine for stuffings and any other dish where the crumbs do not need to be white.


Before the days of liquidisers and food processors, we made bread crumbs by grating squares of stale bread or the coarsest part of a box grater.  The breadcrumbs were not as uniform as those made in a whizzer but will be absolutely fine.


Dried Bread Crumbs.


Put the crusts off the bread slices, spread out on a baking tray.  Bake in a low oven (100°C/220°F/Gas Mark 1/4) for 2 – 3 hours.  Cool, liquidise the dry crusts a few at a time into fine bread crumbs.  Sieve and store in a screw top jar or a plastic box as until needed.  No need to freeze, they keep for months.  Use for coating cheese or fish croquettes

Make Your Own Suet


Of-course one can buy suet ready-prepared in packets but it’s very easy to do it yourself at home. Your butcher will probably give you the suet for free because there is so little demand.  Coeliacs need to be aware that ready-prepared suet usually contains white flour.


Suet comes from the fat that protects the beef kidney. Suet and dripping (the rendered suet) seem to have fallen out of favour, but chips fried in beef fat and potatoes roasted in it are lovely. The flavour is much better and, incidentally, beef dripping has more vitamin B and despite its reputation is considerably better for you than cheap, trans-fat ridden cooking oils. People now make plum puddings with butter because they’re so paranoid of eating the wrong kinds of fat, but I’m still a great fan of the traditional plum puddings made in the classic way with suet, as they have a better flavour and texture. Serve these on hot plates, though, because if suet congeals it’s distinctly unappetising. Use for Plum Pudding or many other comforting suet puddings.


Strictly speaking, beef dripping is the fat and the meat juices that render out of a joint of roast beef while it’s cooking, whereas suet or tallow is fat just rendered from fat surrounding the beef kidney. However, nowadays the term ‘dripping’ is colloquially used to refer to all of these.


How to Prepare your own Suet and Save Money


Start by asking your butcher for the fat that surrounds beef kidneys.


Remove and discard the papery membrane and any red veins or fragments of meat. If you’re not meticulous about this, these bits will deteriorate and the suet won’t keep properly. The fat will separate into natural divisions. Chop it coarsely and either mince or whizz it in a food-processor for a minute or two until it’s evenly grainy (years ago, people used to grate suet on a simple box grater). Refrigerate and use within a couple of days, but if it has been properly trimmed it will keep for weeks in a fridge.


Homemade Croutons


A terrific standby at any time but particularly around Christmas. Croutons can be made even a day ahead with oil flavoured by sprigs of rosemary, thyme or onion. Cut into cubes or stamp out into various shapes – stars, clubs, diamonds or hearts or whatever else takes your fancy – and sprinkle over salads or serve with soups.


Serves 4


slightly stale white bread, 5mm (1⁄4in) thick

olive oil or sunflower


First cut the crusts off the bread, then cut into 5mm (1⁄4in) strips and finally exact cubes.

Heat the oil in a frying pan. It should be at least 2cm (3⁄4in) deep and almost smoking. Put a tin sieve over a Pyrex or stainless-steel bowl.

Add the croutons to the hot oil. Stir once or twice; they will colour almost immediately. When the croutons are golden brown in colour seconds later, pour the oil and croutons into the sieve and drain on kitchen paper. Reheat the oil to cook another batch or use for another purpose.


Cheat’s Tarts with Various Fillings


Usually I’m frightfully snooty about sliced bread but this a brilliant trick shown to us by one of my favourite cookery writers Eric Treuille when he came to teach at the school a few years ago. It makes crisp little tartlets perfect as a base for canapés.


Here are a number of fillings one could use. Look in your fridge, experiment and use fresh herbs and herb flowers. Unfilled Cheat’s Tarts will keep in an airtight tin for several days.


Wild Salmon Pâté with cucumber pickle and dill, Chicken Liver Pâté with sun blush tomatoes, Goat cheese and kumquat compote, Goat cheese with pesto and cherry tomato

Prawns or shrimp with guacamole and coriander, Crab Mayonnaise with grape tomatoes

Smoked mussels with mayo, Goat cheese, pequillo pepper and basil leaves



sliced white or brown bread (sliced pan)


rolling pin

tray of mini muffins buns

cutter 4.5cm (1 3/4 inches)


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


Cut the crusts off the bread. Roll the bread very thinly with a rolling pin, it should be completely flat. Stamp out rounds with a 4.5cm (1 3/4 inches) cutter. Fit into the mini muffin tins. Bake for 5 – 7 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and fill as desired.


Mulled Wine Spices


Serves 8 approx.


Just before the festive season we make up lots of little packages with the sugar, spices and thinly pared lemon rind so when the pals arrive it’s just a question of opening a bottle of wine and warming it in a stainless steel saucepan with the spices.  Leftover mulled wine keeps for a few days and reheats perfectly.


1 bottle of good red wine


100-g (3 1/2oz) sugar, depending on the wine

thinly pared rind of 1 lemon

1 small piece of cinnamon bark

1 blade of mace

1 clove


1 square of muslin


Put the sugar, lemon rind, cinnamon bark, mace and the clove into a little square of muslin, tie with cotton string. Just add to a bottle of good red wine – warm slowly.  Serve hot, but not scalding otherwise your guests will have difficulty holding their glasses.


Hot Tips

Shanagarry OOOOBY (Out of Our Own Back Yard) Group along with other local producers will hold their Christmas Market on Sunday 16th December from 12pm to 4pm at the 18th Century Kilmahon House Courtyard, beside Stephen Pearce Pottery in Shanagarry, East Cork. Make lighter work of Christmas with homemade stuffing, pates, puddings, chutneys and ‘just out of the ground’ fresh produce from OOOBY.

Mahon Point Special Christmas Market – Saturday 22nd December 10am – 2pm

Waterford Winterville Festival runs until Sunday 23rd December


Traditional Farm Poultry – Robbie Fitzsimmon from East Ferry Free Range is still taking orders for his plump free-range turkeys, geese and chicken for Christmas feasting.

086 8548574


Festive Afternoon Tea – Get together with new friends, old friends or best friends for a special and indulgent Christmas treat – Festive Afternoon Tea in front of a roaring fire in the drawing room at Knockeven House in Cobh, Co Cork – how tempting does that sound? phone 021 4811778 or email


 ‘Pop-Up Christmas Wine Shop’ in The Grain Store – Ballymaloe House every weekend until Christmas – Saturdays 11.00am – 4.00pm Sundays 12.30pm – 4.00pm. Wondering where to find something quirky but delicious to serve for the festive season? Ballymaloe House Sommelier Colm McCan who will offer some brilliant advice and tempting tastings.

021 4652531-0




Past Letters