ArchiveJune 2013

In Search of the Next Big Thing – New York

I’ve just spent a few days in New York on a reconnaissance trip to check out what’s happening on the food scene over there. As ever the answer is a lot. New Yorkers are always in search of the next big thing and the newest cult ingredient. Really big trends don’t emerge that often but one of the strongest I’ve seen in years is chefs embracing cooking over fire, or as they say over there ‘live fire’. It seems to be part of this enduring interest in hunter gatherer stuff and wild and foraged foods, not only on restaurant menus, but also at home, on the tables of the keen young food people.

Stalls at the Union Square Farmers Market are offering an ever expanding range of greens and wild foods, lots of nettles, garlic scapes, orache, lamb’s quarters, chickweed, miners lettuce, purslane… There was also a Finnish bread stall and an Ethiopian stall that sold a beautiful fermented flat bread called injera made from teff flour, which is also gluten free. The demand for ‘free from’ food continues to grow exponentially.

Do you have any food allergies? – is a standard question in all restaurants nowadays.

Many chefs have started herb and vegetable gardens, could be just a few boxes on a balcony or in a backyard or on window sills or just outside the restaurant on the pavements, like at the Spotted Pig, where there’s an eclectic collection of herbs and flowers and even a peach tree and some raspberries. Owner, chef April Bloomfield is still looking out for a farm upstate New York, I went out to West Chester and to Hudson and Catskills to see what is happening. The gentrification of the town and explosion of investment in land and farming is mind-blowing.

At Stone Barns, home of Dan Barber’s Blue Hill restaurant, there are extensive gardens, greenhouses, orchards, free-range hens and chickens, pigs in the woods… They now have an educational centre with regular school visits and corporate on-farm events. I loved the idea of a Tisane garden with a collection of aromatic herbs just to make fresh herb teas.

In New York the hottest thing was a cronut, a hybrid of a croissant and a doughnut with icing on top. It’s such a hot item that hundreds of people are prepared to stand in line for hours to buy them (check out next week’s column to read what all the fuss is about)

Several bakeries were also doing a sweet buttery pastry with croissant dough based on the kouign amann a Brittany speciality. Irresistible, flaky Morning Glory buns are also being snapped up, they were originally made at Tartine in San Francisco to use up the end of the croissant dough.

There are tons of good restaurants. I had a delicious meal at I Sodi on Christopher Street, a sister restaurant of Buvette, on Grove Street, which I love. One of the highlights was spaghetti cacio e pepe made with Garofalo pasta, lots of black pepper and pecorino, followed by dry aged strip steak with arugula and sea salt. All the best beef at the top restaurants seemed to be coming from Pat LaFrieda, a butcher and wholesaler who dry ages his Black Angus beef for 7 – 8 weeks and mixes the beef cuts for the signature burgers in different establishments, like at Minetta Tavern where I had a burger. They use LaFrieda’s freshly minced Black Angus beef which has been hung for 42 days. The popularity of burger is enduring and one can easily pay in excess of US$20 for a burger in New York.

April Bloomfield’s burger with shoestring fries at the Spotted Pig on 134 W 11th Street is certainly one of the most delicious, I also enjoyed her devilled eggs, chicken liver toasts and lemon ricotta pancake with candied almonds.

Brooklyn aka hipster central and Harlem is where all the creative young people are setting up at present. Cafés, restaurants, coffee shops, butchers, kitchen shops, rooftop gardens and plus its home to Heritage Radio.

Smorgasburg is a Saturday food market of young start-ups on the DUMBO waterfront by the Tobacco Warehouse beside Brooklyn Bridge Park. This is not to be missed. The variety of foods made by these young entrepreneurs is nothing short of awesome, 75 stalls and delicious to a man.

Pickles and hot sauces are still huge. The legendary Mast chocolate is on 111 N 3rd Street, they start by conching the cocoa beans and then make chocolate bars that are truly memorable.

V for Vegan is all over menus as is tartare of beef, salmon and tuna. There is a particularly delicious version at Rizzoli in Mulberry Street. Uncle Boons on Spring Street owned by Per Se veterans Matt Danzer and Ann Redding is turning out authentic tasting Thai food that has New Yorkers in a frenzy at present.

Heritage beans, heirloom grains and chillies are popping up all over the place. I particularly remember delicious white bean puree at Romans in Brooklyn, another name to add to your New York list.

Here are some of the recipes that people queue around the corner for at the Spotted Pig in New York.


April Bloomfield’s Devilled Eggs


Devilled eggs, so 1980s, are having a real revival. Here is a recipe for the ones I enjoyed at the Spotted Pig, (taken from April’s book ‘A Girl and her Pig’ published by Canongate Books )

“I like my devilled eggs cold, cold, cold. They’re so refreshing that way. The key to the recipe is chilling the whites as well as the yolk mixture and making your own mayonnaise, which is much easier than you might think.”


makes 12 devilled eggs

6 large eggs, at room temperature

3 tablespoons homemade Mayonnaise, slightly chilled

1 tablespoon champagne vinegar

1 tablespoon crème fráiche

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Maldon or another flaky sea salt

2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

1 tablespoon finely chopped chervil

Cayenne or paprika

Extra virgin olive oil (optional) for drizzling


Fill a medium pot at least halfway with water and bring to the boil over high heat.

Use a slotted spoon to gently put the eggs in the water, and cook them for 10 minutes (set a timer). Drain the eggs and put them in a big bowl of ice water until they’re fully cool. Lightly tap each egg against the counter to crack the shell all over, then peel them and pat them dry. Halve them lengthwise with a sharp knife. Press the yolks through a sieve into a small food processor. Add the mayonnaise, vinegar, crème fráiche, and mustard and process until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Have a taste and season with salt. For really pretty eggs, feed the mix into an icing bag (alternatively, you can jerry-rig one with a large resealable plastic bag; snip off a corner before piping). Pop it into the fridge for 30 minutes. Put the egg whites on a plate, cover with Clingfilm, and put them in the fridge as well. Pat the whites dry with a tea towel and pipe an equal amount of the yolk mixture into each white. Top each one off with a sprinkle of the chives and chervil and a dusting of cayenne or paprika. If you like, add a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil and serve.


April Bloomfield’s Chopped Chicken Liver on Toast


“A staple at the Spotted Pig, this creamy, still slightly chunky mash of lovely, iron-y livers on toast makes a fine snack, but it’s substantial enough to hold you over while you wait for a friend or a table.  Just the thing, too, with a glass of wine. The liver mixture is a touch sweet from the port and the browned garlic and shallots, with a whisper of acidity from the Madeira. Best of all, it takes just a moment to make. Be sure you get a nice colour on the livers when you cook them. (I like them slightly pink on the inside for this dish; anyone who doesn’t can cook them a bit longer.) Be sure to take in the aroma as they cook – toasty browning liver is one of my favourite smells.”

makes 4 toasts

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

40g (1 ½ oz) finely chopped shallots

1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons dry Madeira

2 tablespoons ruby port

225g (8oz) chicken livers, trimmed and separated into lobes

Maldon or another flaky sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

A small handful of small, delicate flat-leaf parsley sprigs

4 thick slices crusty bread, or 2 large slices, cut in half

Pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into a large sauté pan and set it over high heat.

When it’s hot, turn the heat down to medium and add the shallots and garlic. Cook until they’re golden brown, about a minute. Add the Madeira and port to the pan and give it a good shake, then scrape the mixture into a small bowl and set aside. Rinse the pan and wipe it out well with kitchen paper, then set it over high heat and add one tablespoon of the olive oil. When the oil just begins to smoke, pat the livers dry and add them to the pan. Cook until the undersides are golden brown, 1½ minutes or so. Carefully turn them over and sprinkle on about 1 teaspoon salt, then give the pan a little shake. Cook the livers just until they feel bouncy, like little balloons, about 30 seconds more. You want them slightly pink inside, not rare. Turn off the heat and add the shallot mixture, liquid and all, to the pan.


Randal’s Buttermilk Ice Cream


Serves 6 – 8

1 pint (16floz) of double cream
225g (8oz) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
three inch strip of lemon peel
1/2 a vanilla bean split
8 free range egg yolks
1 pint (16floz) of buttermilk

In a high sided saucepan combine the double cream and 175g (6oz) of sugar, salt, lemon peel, and vanilla bean steep over low heat until sugar is dissolved.

In bowl of a standing mixer beat egg yolks and remaining (50g) 2oz of sugar.
Very slowly combine the two; by slowly adding the hot cream into the eggs whisking constantly taking care to not curdle the egg yolks.
Once the two are combined return to the saucepan and simmer over low heat until  thick.
Strain the mixture and beat in the buttermilk. Chill completely and then freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.


Hot Tips


Learn how to propagate fruit trees on Saturday 20th July 1pm to 4pm at Irish Seed Savers in Scarriff, Co Clare. Participants will learn how to bud their own trees and take them home. After-care and maintenance of budded trees will also be covered. Phone 061921866 –


Home Preserving – Traditional and Modern Methods at The Organic Centre in Rossinver, Co Leitrim with Hans Wieland on 6th July 2013 – €75.00. Learn about how to store and preserve the abundance of summer produce. Hans will demonstrate traditional and modern methods of storing, drying, lactic acid fermentation, sterilising and freezing. There will also be hands on session on sauerkraut making, pickling and preserving fruit without sugar.


Ever wanted to learn the hidden secrets of a professional kitchen? Well now is your chance, J P McMahon owner of Aniar, the Michelin starred restaurant in Galway – with a mission to support local food producers and foragers – is running a series of six week courses Understanding Food – the next one starts on 12th August, 2013. There are also one day workshops on such topics as ‘The Whole Loaf’, ‘The Whole Hog’ ‘The Whole Lamb’ ‘The Whole Fish’…see


Honor Moore

When I heard of Honor Moore’s recent passing I was deeply saddened. Somehow one felt that this doyenne of Irish food writers would always be with us. I didn’t know Honor very well but remember her support, when I started the Ballymaloe Cookery School and her encyclopaedic knowledge of traditional Irish food. I particularly remember a long conversation about boxty when I was doing research for my traditional food book.

Honor started to cook in an evacuee camp in the North of Ireland in the early 1940s under a chef from Gibraltar who by all accounts didn’t think much of her ability, apparently he advised her to give up all thoughts of being a chef and fortunately she didn’t heed him.

Soon after she started to write articles on food for the Belfast Newsletter under the nom de plume ‘Housekeeper’ and continued until 1968. She went on to write a weekly column in the RTE Guide for many years and also developed a loyal following as food editor of Woman’s Way magazine. She also did an occasional piece for the Farmer’s Journal and then started to work on a book about her life called A Cooks Tale.

Honor had many hats. When her husband Sam died suddenly in 1965, she had to take over the running of his PR (Public Relations) business. She knew nothing about PR but, through necessity, learned in double quick time. Within days, she was representing the interests of Marathon Oil, Irish Base Metals including the Tynagh Mine, Tara Exploration; The Irish Shoe Federation and many more.

Honor also made several appearances on TV with both Tom Doorley and on the Late Late Show.

As one of the founding members of the Irish Food Writers Guild she was highly respected by her journalistic colleagues. The Guild chose her as their President and she was re-elected every year since then, unopposed. In 2005, Eurotoques, the European Community of Chefs presented her with a special lifetime achievement award.

Throughout her 90 years she brought Irish people along with her as she introduced new ingredients and ideas and was always warm and supportive to young chefs, cooks restaurateurs and food producers.

Honor will be sadly missed and warmly remembered by all of us who knew her.


Honor Moore’s Smoked Fish Chowder with Carrageen


Serves 4


450g (1lb) smoked fish, cut in cubes

15g (3/4oz) butter

1 onion, chopped

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

2 medium leeks, trimmed and sliced

600ml (1 pint) fish stock or water

300ml (10 floz) milk

good pinch carrageen

freshly ground black pepper


Garnish: Dried dillisk.


Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the onion, potatoes, and leeks, cook over a low heat, stirring, well until softened. Add the stock and milk. Simmer until the vegetables are soft.  Season to taste; add the fish and the carrageen. Simmer gently for 7 to 10 minutes more, to cook the fish. Serve with toasted rolls.



Honor Moore’s Fougasse


Makes 2 loaves


500g (18oz) strong white flour

3 tsp dried yeast

2 ½ tbsp olive oil

sea salt

extra flour for kneading.


Sieve the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the center.  Dissolve the yeast in warm (not hot) water. Pour the mixture into the flour and add the olive oil using a wooden spoon.   Begin mixing in the lukewarm water and continue until the mixture forms a loose dough.  Turn out on to a floured surface and knead for 2 minutes.   Add the salt and continue to knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.   Return the dough to the clean bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for an hour. Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it out on to a lightly floured surface.   Knead for a minute or two and divide in two and flatten them into two large ovals.   Transfer to a large baking sheet and using a pair of lightly floured scissors cut diagonal slashes right through the dough.   Using your fingers open up the slashes until they At least 2 ½ cm wide. Transfer to a baking sheet.   And Put the baking sheet into a warm place and leave to prove for 30 minutes.  Either drizzle little olive oil over the top and sprinkle with rock salt or scatter with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 450ºF -230ºC – gas mark 8 for 15 to 20 minutes.  Wrap in a clean tea towel and serve.


Honor Moore’s Chocolate Orange Bread and Butter Pudding


Serves 6


Unsalted butter for greasing


10 thin slices of white bread, crusts removed

good quality chocolate spread

1 tsp grated orange rind




4 large eggs, beaten

3 tbsp golden caster sugar

3 tbsp cocoa

600ml (1 pint) whipping cream

300ml (10fl oz) sieved orange juice


To finish


1 tsp cocoa

1 tsp golden caster sugar

Grease a shallow ovenproof dish about 26cm by 18cm by 7cm.  Cut the bread into triangles and spread with butter and chocolate spread.   Arrange neatly in the prepared dish. To make the custard whisk the egg, cream cheese sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the white chocolate pieces and set aside.  Return to the dark chocolate mixture; whisk the caster sugar and eggs in another large bowl.   With the whisk still running, gently pour in the melted chocolate.   Carefully fold in the flour with a metal spoon. Pour half the dark chocolate mixture into the brownie tin, and then pour over the much runnier white mixture, dollop in the rest of the chocolate mix evenly over the top.  Using a wooden spoon handle lightly stir the contents of the tin, making large swirls


Bake for 35 minutes.   Cool and cut into squares.



Franny’s Pickled Ramps (Wild Garlic)


Makes 2 cups


450g (1lb) late season ramps (wild garlic) with well-developed bulbs

112mls (4fl oz) white wine vinegar

55ml (2fl oz) moscato vinegar or (see note)


Trim the hairy roots from the ramps. Separate the bulbs from the greens; reserve the greens for another use. Rinse the bulbs under warm running water and pat dry.

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegars, sugar and salt and bring to a simmer. Stir in the ramps, reduce the heat to low, and return the liquid to a simmer.

Let stand, stirring occasionally until cool.

Transfer the ramps and liquid to an airtight container; the pickles  will keep in the refrigerator for up to three months.

Note: For a cheater’s moscato vinegar substitute, whisk together 112mls (4fl oz) apple cider vinegar, 2 ½ teaspoons honey and ¼ teaspoon balsamic vinegar.


Hot Tips

Learn classic cooking techniques, over the years we’ve had many requests from busy people who want us to create a course to teach everything from basic knife skills,from  jointing a chicken to making the perfect salad dressing. During the two and half day course of three demonstrations and two hands on sessions, you will learn the essential skills that will make cooking easy and fun.  Classic Techniques – Wednesday, 24th to Friday 26th July 2013 Ballymaloe Cookery School – phone 021-4646785 to book a place.

Ross Golden-Bannon, busy editor of Food and Wine Magazine has been hatching up a fun new dining experience. He’s teamed up with chef Gareth Mullins of the Marker Hotel in Dublin to create a pop up restaurant in the Hibernian Club on St Stephen’s Green. The six course menu will celebrate the food of many fledgling artisan food producers, craft brewers and natural wine producers. The first dinner was yesterday, to catch the next one check out

Elderflowers are in full bloom along every lane and hedgerow in Ireland at present.  Pick them on a dry day and make elderflower syrups, cordials, granita and fritters. The season isn’t long, maybe another 2 or 3 weeks. Remember elderflowers grow on small trees and not by the road side and must not be confused with cow parsley or giant hog weed. You’ll find new seasons elderflower cordial at the Midleton farmers market very Saturday morning 9 – 2pm

Dates for your Diary

The 37th Kinsale Gourmet Festival tickets are now on sale with some events almost sold out already I’m told. The festival takes place in Kinsale 11 – 13 October – Tickets available for purchase from 021 4773571 and further information on

Kenmare, Co Kerry will hold its second annual Kenmare Food Carnival from 12th – 14th July 2013 – see

Bounty of the Good Earth

I’ve just been thanking the good Lord for the bounty of the earth; we’ve just had the first of the broad beans and new potatoes, such joy.  Several of the grandchildren helped to pick the beans, until we chased them away because they were eating more than they were picking. They love extracting them out of the long green pods, no two are the same but all are furry inside with a different number of beans in each one. They are sweet and juicy and the grandchildren are right, the French and Italians love them raw with just a little olive oil and sea salt and a little salty ricotta. Like asparagus and virtually every other vegetable the quicker you can get them into the kitchen and onto the table the more super delicious they will be.

The asparagus has been slow and late and sluggish this year, as has virtually everything else, all the farmers have had a challenging year and for some it has been terrifying as the stark reality of the effects of climate change on our crops really hits home. The reality that we may have to perhaps drastically change what can be grown in this country is now a distinct possibility as we grapple with the fact that these weather patterns may now be the norm rather than the exception.

It has certainly made many of us more aware of how much we depend on Mother Nature. Food is not something that just appears on supermarket shelves, someone has to grow, care for and harvest it. Animals need to fed and looked after 24/7 and with the relentless pressure to deliver cheap food to the consumer at any cost, those who produce it are rarely paid a fair price for their efforts.

Waste is still a huge problem at many stages in the food chain. Those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to grow even a few radishes or spring onions for ourselves, know the effort that goes into it and won’t waste a scrap.

Here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School the students have the option to see our five Jersey cows being milked and to learn the skill. For many, it comes as a shock to realize that cows have to be milked twice a day every day, over weekends, bank holidays, Christmas day…

Blessed are the farmers, the fishermen, the cheese makers and all those who produce food that nourishes us. It’s time to sit down around the kitchen table once again and to give thanks and celebrate the new seasons produce and to make a wish that we’ll be as well this time next year (and not waste a scrap!)


Asparagus and Marjoram Frittata


Serves 6


8 eggs, preferably free-range (increase the eggs if your pan is bigger)

225g (8oz) thin asparagus

1 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper

55g (2oz) Parmesan, Parmigano Reggiano, freshly grated


25g (1oz) Parmesan and 25g (1oz) Gruyere

2-3 tablespoons chopped marjoram

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


non stick frying pan – 7½ inch (19cm) bottom, 9 inch (23cm) top rim


Preheat the oven to 160˚C/320˚F/mark 3. Bring about 1 inch of water to the boil in an oval casserole.  Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus, add salt to the water and blanch the spears for 2 or 3 minutes.  Drain. Slice the end of the spears evenly at an angle keep 1½ inches at the top intact. Save for later.

Whisk the eggs together into a bowl.  Add the sliced asparagus, most of the grated Parmesan and chopped marjoram, reserving a little for the end.  Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in the pan over a medium heat, add egg mixture, cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Then transfer to the oven and continue to cook until just set – about 12 minutes.  Arrange the asparagus over the top.  Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.  Pop under a grill for a few minutes but make sure it is at least 5 inches from the element.  It should be set but not brown.  Serve immediately, cut into wedges and follow with a green salad.


Farro with Broadbeans, Peas, Asparagus and Rocket


Serves 4


250gms (9ozs) of cooked farro

4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

freshly squeezed juice of one lemon

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

60gms (2 1/2ozs) of cooked broad beans (blanched and refreshed)

60gms (2 1/2ozs) of cooked peas

a fist of rocket leaves

8 x asparagus spears – quickly blanched

8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half


Put the farro, rocket leaves, peas, broad beans, asparagus and tomato halves into a bowl – dress with olive oil and lemon. Season with sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper and toss together lightly with your fingers.


Serve quickly while the flavours are fresh!


New Potatoes Cooked in Seawater


Of course one can cook new potatoes in well salted water but if you happen to be by the seaside, collect some seawater it will add immeasurably to the flavour.


Serves 4-5


2 lbs (900g) new potatoes e.g., Home Guard, British Queens (the variety we grow is Colleen)

2 pints (1.2 litres) seawater or 2 pints (1.2 litres) tap water plus 1 teaspoon salt

a sprig of seaweed if available

Bring the seawater to the boil. Scrub the potatoes. Add salt if using tap water and a sprig of seaweed to the water, and then add the potatoes. Cover the saucepan, bring back to the boil and cook for 15-25 minutes or until fully cooked depending on size.

Drain and serve immediately in a hot serving dish with good Irish butter.



It’s vitally important for flavour to add salt to the water when cooking potatoes.


Blackcurrant Leaf Sorbet


Blackcurrant leaves have tons of flavour, we also use them syrup for homemade lemonade.

We also use this recipe to make an elderflower sorbet – substitute 4 or 5 elderflower heads in full bloom.


2 large handfuls of young blackcurrant leaves

225g (8ozs) sugar

600ml (1 pint) cold water

juice of 3 lemons

1 egg white (optional)


Crush the blackcurrant leaves tightly in your hand, put into a stainless steel saucepan with the cold water and sugar.  Stir to dissolve the sugar, bring slowly to the boil. Simmer for 2 or 3 minutes. Allow to cool completely.  Add the juice of 3 freshly squeezed lemons.*


Strain and freeze for 20-25 minutes in an ice-cream maker or sorbetiere.  Serve in chilled glasses or chilled white china bowls or on pretty plates lined with fresh blackcurrant leaves.


Note: If you do not have a sorbetiere, simply freeze the sorbet in a dish in the freezer, when it is semi-frozen, whisk until smooth and return to the freezer again.  Whisk again when almost frozen and fold in one stiffly beaten egg white.  Keep in the freezer until needed.


If you have access to a food processor.  Freeze the sorbet completely in a tray, then break up and whizz for a few seconds in the processor, add 1 slightly beaten egg white, whizz and freeze again.  Serve.


Hot Tips

Newly re-opened Carewswood Garden Centre in Ladysbridge, East Cork has a terrific selection of scented geranium plants including pelargonium graveolens that we use to flavour syrups, sorbets and compotes. All are edible and each has its own individual taste. I was also tempted by their standard olive trees and a couple of kumquat plants and there is also a cute little café with enticing homemade cakes and scones – phone 021-2428494.

In just a few years Sushi has become a universal favourite. It gets the ‘thumbs up’ from cardiologists and nutritionists – not least because it is based mainly on fresh fish, seaweed, vegetables and rice, but it is also low in fat and high in minerals.

Sushi tastes great it’s healthy, nutritious and quick to prepare and great fun for home entertaining. Join the half-day course with Shermin Mustafa and Darina Allen on Wednesday 3rd July, 2013 at Ballymaloe Cookery School and you will learn how to make seven different types of sushi and can have optional hands-on practice plus the opportunity to taste all the sushi prepared during the course. Price: €125.00 – 021 4646785 to book.

Julian Castagna, of Castagna Wines, Beechworth, Victoria, Australia, will give a wine talk and wine tasting, in The Carrigaun Room of The GrainStore, at Ballymaloe House on Friday 21st June, at 7pm €10.00 – 021 4652531 or

Travel Classics International Writers Conference 2013

The Travel Classics International Writers conference has been held in Ireland several times over the past 19 years. Kenmare, Galway, Belfast, Dublin and this year it was held at Ballymaloe House and surrounding area. The delegates included some of the most prestigious food and travel editors and writers in the world. The weather was good, the country side looked beautiful and they really enjoyed the fresh food from the farm, gardens, local fishermen and artisan producers. They loved the freshly baked soda and brown yeast bread and the dark bitter marmalade and the lamb from Frank Murphy in Midleton and they loved the asparagus from the garden and Tim York in West Cork.   They couldn’t get enough of the rhubarb with the thick Jersey cream, slathered with unctuous yoghurt, the Irish butter, the farmhouse cheese, homemade praline ice cream…The simpler the food the more they liked it. At one lunch at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, we served them a Good Food Ireland plate with accompaniments to give them a taste of the artisan producers and they were mightily impressed.

The plate included thinly sliced Ummera Smoked duck from Anthony Cresswell in Timoleague, West Cork, a little wedge of Jane Murphy’s Ardsallagh goat’s cheese from Carrigtwohill near Cork. Fifth generation family butchers Jack McCarthy, from Kanturk provided Guinness and cider spiced beef. They also loved Pat Mulcahy’s wild boar and venison salami from Ballinwillin House and Farm near Mitchelstown in Co Cork. Both Jane Murphy and Pat Mulcahy joined the writers for lunch and told their story. Wild boar had been extinct in Ireland since the 1600s until Pat reintroduced them onto his farm in 1990s. We also had air dried lamb from the innovative Oughterard butcher James McGeough.

Nora Egan also came all the way from Inch Country House in Co Tipperary; we served her old fashioned blood pudding with grainy mustard apple and cream.

Toonsbridge Mozzarella also held pride of place on the Good Food Ireland plate. We added some accompaniments, a devilled organic egg from our own free-range hens, and a beetroot relish from Janet Drew’s range from Co Wicklow.  We added a blob of our homemade mayonnaise and some horseradish sauce and cucumber pickle to compliment the spiced beef. We piled the table in the centre of the dining room with fresh produce from the garden. New seasons carrots, radishes, spring onions, and a great big bowl of fresh salad leaves. There were lots of freshly baked yeast, soda and sough dough breads with freshly churned Jersey butter, the writers and editors loved it, then there was rhubarb tart made from my mother’s recipe, served with softly whipped cream and soft brown sugar. No bells or whistles, just simple food, a real taste of Ireland and they couldn’t get enough of it – reminded me once again that visitors to Ireland are craving real food – we have it in spades, let’s have the confidence to leave it alone and serve it proudly.


Inch Black Pudding with Grainy Mustard and Sweet Apple Sauce

Serves 12 for canapés, 4-6 as a starter

Butter or extra virgin olive oil

6 slices best quality black pudding approx. 1cm (1/2 inch) thick and 6 slices of white pudding


Sweet Apple Sauce:

1 lb (450g) golden delicious or Cox’s orange pippins

1-2 dessertspoon water

2 ozs (55g) sugar, depending on how tart the apples are


Grainy Mustard Sauce: 

8 fl. oz (250ml) cream

2 tsp smooth mustard

2 tsp grainy mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Flat parsley or watercress


Make the apple sauce – Peel, quarter and core the apples. Cut the pieces into two and put in a stainless steel or cast iron saucepan with sugar and water. Cover and put over a low heat. As soon as the apple has broken down, beat into a puree, stir and taste for sweetness.

Make the mustard sauce – Put the cream and both mustards in a small pan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring occasionally.  Taste and season if necessary.

Melt a very little butter in a frying pan and fry the pudding on both sides on a medium heat until cooked through. Remove the skin from the pudding.

Make a bed of apple sauce on the serving plate or plates.  Lay the pieces of hot pudding on top of the apple.  Spoon a little Mustard Sauce carefully over the top.

Garnish with flat parsley and serve immediately or pile it on top of a white soda bread scone.

A Plate of Irish Charcuterie and Cured Meats


One of my favourite easy entertaining tricks is to serve a selection of Irish artisan charcuterie from inspired producers like Fingal Ferguson from Gubbeen, West Cork and James McGeough from Oughterard, Co. Galway.  The quality is so wonderful that I’m always bursting with pride as I serve it.


A selection of cured meats:


smoked duck

air dried smoked Connemara lamb

smoked venison

wild boar and Venison Salami

spiced beef

West Cork chorizo


a selection of:

crusty country breads, sour dough, yeast and soda

tiny gherkins or cornichons

fresh radishes, just trimmed but with some green leaf attached

a good green salad of garden lettuce and salad leaves


Arrange the cured meats and salami on a large platter, Serve complementary accompaniments, eg. Horseradish, sauce, cucumber pickle, beetroot relish, homemade mayonnaise… Open a good bottle of red and tuck in!



Ardsallagh Goat Cheese Pots with Hot Beets and Croutes


Serves 1


Allow 60g (2 1/4oz) Ardsallagh goats cheese for each pot


scant 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

cooked beetroot (1-2 small beets per person) (see recipe)


Baguette Croutes (see recipe)

Extra virgin olive oil


1 x 75ml (3fl oz) ramekins


First cook the beetroot (see note below), when the skins will rub off easily and the beets are soft, cut into quarters – allow 6-8 quarters per person.


Mix the soft cheese with a spoonful of cream, some fresh thyme leaves.  Season with Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.


Preheat the oven to 250°C/500°F.


Pop into the preheated oven and cook for 6 minutes or until hot and bubbly.


Meanwhile, cut the peeled hot beets into quarters, toss in extra virgin olive oil (if cold reheat in a saucepan or in the oven).


Serve a little pot of melted goat cheese with a bowl of beets and 3 or 4 baguette croutes (see recipe).


How to cook Beetroot


Leave 2 inch (5cm) of leaf stalks on top and the whole root on the beet. Hold it under a running tap and wash off the mud with the palms of your hands, so that you don’t damage the skin; otherwise the beetroot will bleed during cooking. Cover with cold water and add a little salt and sugar. Cover the pot, bring to the boil and simmer on top, or in an oven, for 1-2 hours depending on size. Beetroot are usually cooked if the skin rubs off easily and if they dent when pressed with a finger.  If in doubt test with a skewer or the tip of a knife.


Baguette or Focaccia Croutes


Serve with salads, soups, snacks or pates.


1 stalish baguette or focaccia


Cut 4 slices of very thin bread at an angle.  Bake in a low oven 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2 for 15-20 minutes or until crisp on both sides.  Store in an airtight box.


N.B. Fan oven at 20°C less is even better.


Mummy’s Rhubarb Pie


The pastry is made by the creaming method so people who are convinced that they suffer from ‘hot hands’ don’t have to worry about rubbing in the butter.


Serves 8-12



8 ozs (225g) butter

2 ozs (50g) castor sugar

2 eggs, preferably free range

12 ozs (300g) white flour, preferably unbleached



2lbs (900g) sliced red rhubarb (about 1/2 inch thick)

13 ozs (370g) -14ozs (400g) sugar.

2-3 cloves

egg wash-made with one beaten egg and a dash of milk

castor sugar for sprinkling


To Serve

softly whipped cream

Barbados sugar


tin, 7 inches (18cm) x 12 inches (30.5cm) x 1 inch (2.5cm) deep


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


First make the pastry. Cream the butter and sugar together by hand or in a food mixer (no need to over cream). Add the eggs and beat for several minutes. Reduce speed and mix in the flour. Turn out onto a piece of floured greaseproof paper, flatten into a round wrap and chill. This pastry needs to be chilled for at least 2 hours otherwise it is difficult to handle.


To make the tart

Roll out the pastry 1/8 inch (3mm) thick approx., and use about 2/3 of it to line a suitable tin. Place the sliced rhubarb into the tart, sprinkle with sugar and add the cloves. Cover with a lid of pastry, seal edges, decorate with pastry leaves, egg wash and bake in the preheated oven until the apples are tender, approx. 45 minutes to 1 hour. When cooked cut into squares, sprinkle lightly with castor sugar and serve with softly whipped cream and Barbados sugar.




Cooking for Baby – Natural and Wholesome Recipes Part 2, Friday 21st June, 2013 Ballymaloe Cookery School 2 – 5 pm. This invaluable half-day course covers everything to feed your baby – choosing the ingredients, recipes, preparation tips, menus, storage, health and nutrition – the lot.  Not only will it save you a small fortune but also it will be infinitely better for your baby – phone 021 4646785 to book.


Dates for your Diary


Dunmore East Festival of Food, Fish and Fun 21 – 23 June, 2013 –  or phone  (051) 383164


The Westport Festival of Music and Food 29-30 June, 2013 –


List of suppliers on Good Food Ireland Producer Plates.


Jack McCarthy’s of Kanturk Artisan Butchers –


Ummera Smoked Products Timoleague –


Inch House Black Pudding –


Ardsallagh Goat Farm -


McGeough’s Artisan Butcher –


Toonsbridge Dairy –


Ballinwillin House and Farm –


Janet’s Country Fayre –


Ballymaloe LitFest 2013…Until next year…

A month after the Literary Festival of Food and Wine at Ballymaloe we’re still getting excited feedback and thank you cards in response to the event, from both participants and those who came along over the May Bank Holiday weekend. Plans are already underway for 2014 – looks like 16-18 May so perhaps that’s a date to go into your next year’s diary. We have a long list of tweaks and suggestions for next time around and I’m sure that the list will just grow and grow.


The Big Shed at Ballymaloe House which housed the Fringe ‘part venue part food market’ as Michael Kelly of GIY put it, was the lively heart of the festival which throbbed with energy throughout the entire weekend.


The workshops and sessions in the Grain Store and the Carrigaun Room inspired and stimulated attendees on topics as diverse as the Grass Roots of the Revolution: Edible Education with Stephanie Alexander, David Prior and Bill Yosses, The Art of Fermentation with Sandor Katz, Digesting Unsavoury Truths with Ella McSweeney, Suzanne Campbell and Joanna Blythman. Nordic Food Revolution with Klaus Meyer, co-founder of Noma and Ben Reade,  Head of Culinary Research and Development at Nordic Food Lab. Food Writing for a Digital Generation with Aoife Carrigy, Caroline Hennessy, Lucy Pearce and Michael Kelly. The Taste of Words: Food in Literature and Performance with UCC who by the way will be part of the new MA in Creative Writing course which starts at UCC in September.


We also wanted to nurture the next generation’s creativity. The winner of the Young Food Writers Competition was Sean Clancy from Kilbehenny National School and Clodagh Finn from Ballycotton who wrote beautifully about farm produce and a neighbour John Kennefick’s ‘pops’. The prizes were presented in the Children’s Education area in the Big Shed organised by Camilla Houstoun which was the most creative and stimulating place for to be. Over at the Ballymaloe Cookery School the cookery classes continued, I promised I’d share some of our favourite recipes from Thomasina Miers, Stevie Parle and our own Rachel Allen and that will be the last taste of the Litfest for this year.


David Tanis’s Duck Liver Toasts



These tasty toasts – the Italians call them crostini – perfectly complement the roast duck, or they can become a first course on their own.



700g (1 1/2lbs) duck or chicken livers

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

2 slices pancetta, in small slivers

2 large shallots, finely diced

2 teaspoons chopped thyme

a splash of dry sherry or sherry vinegar

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 baguette, sliced and toasted


Trim the livers, blot on paper towels, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Heat the olive oil in a wide pan over a medium flame.  When the oil is hot, add the pancetta and shallots and cook until the shallots are nicely browned.


Add the livers and turn up the flame.  Stir well and continue cooking, shaking the pan occasionally, until the livers are cooked through but still a little pink.  Slice one to check.  Add the thyme and sherry, and transfer the contents of the pan to a chopping board.  Let cool to room temperature.


With a large knife, chop the livers with the pancetta and shallots to a rough paste, then put the paste in a small mixing bowl.  Mash the butter into the paste with a wooden spoon.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.  Cover tightly with cling film and keep at cool room temperature until ready to serve (up to 2 hours), or refrigerate and bring to room temperature before serving.


Spread on toasted baguette slices.


Thomasina Mier’s Caramelised Scallop, Avocado and Orange Salad with Spices


Serves 6


18 scallops

4 small cloves garlic

2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted

2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted

1 chile de arbol

1 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 avocados

freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon

salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 oranges

1/2 teaspoon sugar

3 heads chicory, broken up into leaves

a bunch of coriander, washed and stalks removed


Bash the cloves, to slip them out of their skins and toast the spices and chilli for a minute or two in a dry pan to release their flavour.  Mash the peeled garlic and spices into a pulp with a pestle and mortar, with the salt and stir in 4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) of the olive oil.


Cut the muscles from the scallops and marinate them in half the spice mix for at least an hour.


Meanwhile cut the avocados into quarters, remove the stone and peel.  Cut each quarter into 2-3 slices.  Squeeze over the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.   Segment the orange by cutting away the tops and bottoms and cutting each orange segment out from between the membrane.  Squeeze the membranes to get as much of the juice as possible.   Whisk the remaining oil into all the orange juice you can collect and add the remaining spice mix and the sugar.  Check for seasoning.


Heat a frying pan over a high heat and when smoking hot sauté the scallops, 6 at a time, for 3-4 minutes the first side and a minute or two on the second side until they are looking caramelized and delicious.


Carefully toss the chicory leaves, orange segments and scallops in the dressing and arrange on a large plate.  Top with the avocado and torn coriander and dive in.


Rachel Allen’s Lemongrass Coconut Cake


Coconut and lemongrass, two quintessentially Southeast Asian ingredients, are combined here in this deliciously moist cake. The lemongrass is added to a syrup that infuses the sponge with its aromatic flavour. Found in supermarkets as well as in Asian food shops, the taste of lemongrass is certainly reminiscent of lemons but has a unique floral flavour all of its own.

Serves: 6–8


4 stalks of lemongrass, base and tops trimmed, outer leaves removed but reserved for the syrup (see below)

250g (9oz) caster sugar

4 eggs

200g (7oz) butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

125g (4⁄1 2 oz) desiccated coconut

125g (4⁄1 2 oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting

2 teaspoons baking powder


To Serve

Greek yoghurt or crème fraîche


For the Syrup

reserved trimmings and outer leaves of the lemongrass (see above)

75g (3oz) caster sugar


23cm (9 inch) diameter cake tin with 6cm (2⁄1 2 inch) sides


Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3.


Butter the sides of the cake tin and dust with flour, then line the base with a disc of baking parchment.


Slice the lemongrass stalks quite thinly into rounds about 3mm (1/8 inch) thick, then place in a food processor with the caster sugar and whiz for 1–2 minutes or until the lemongrass is finely puréed and very aromatic. Add the eggs, butter and coconut and whiz again until combined, then sift the flour and baking powder together and add to the machine, whizzing very briefly just until the ingredients come together.

Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40–45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

While the cake is cooking, make the syrup. Roughly chop the lemongrass trimmings, place in a saucepan with the sugar and 75ml (3fl oz) of water and set over a high heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved, then bring to the boil and boil for 2 minutes before removing from the heat and leaving to infuse.

When the cake has finished baking, take it out of the oven and let
it sit in the tin for 10 minutes. Loosen around the edges using a small, sharp knife and carefully remove the cake from the tin before transferring to a serving plate.

Reheat the syrup, then pierce holes all over the cake with a skewer and pour the hot syrup through a sieve onto the cake, moving the pan and sieve around as you pour so that the syrup covers the top of the cake. Allow the cake to cool down completely.

Serve with a dollop of natural Greek yoghurt or crème fraîche.


Stevie Parle’s Madeleines


They are totally delicious as they are but one could dip them in melted chocolate and desiccated coconut as in the photo taken from Cake – Rachel Allen’s cookery book.


Makes about 24


135g (4 3/4oz) butter, plus extra for greasing tray

2 tablespoons floral honey

1 tablespoon orange flower water

3 eggs

125g caster sugar

135g self-raising flour or 135g (4 3/4oz) plain flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder, sifted, plus extra for dusting


Melt the butter with the honey, then pour in the orange flower water and set aside to cool. Whisk the eggs and sugar in an electric mixer for 10 minutes or so, until they are really fluffy and double in size.  Fold in the flour, then the butter and honey mixture.


Pour into a container and leave the batter to rest for at least 3 hours in the fridge, or overnight is fine too.


Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5.


Butter a madeleine tray (you can also do this in a small muffin tray), then dust with flour and shake off the excess. Fill the molds two-thirds full, and then bake for 10 minutes or so until golden brown and firm to the touch.




Seafood and Shanty in Ballycotton Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd June – Darina Allen will open the weekend followed by a short fish cookery demonstration at 3pm today on the Pier in Ballycotton. There will also be fish tasting by the Ballycotton Fishermen’s Association, ice cream stalls, boat trips around the lighthouse… 3- 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.


Taste of Dublin is from 13th to 16th June 2013 – four days of summer eating, drinking and entertainment.

Darina Allen will be doing four, thirty minute cookery demonstrations on Saturday 15th June at 1:30pm, 3:15pm, 6:00pm and 7:30pm. Don’t miss a twenty minute Q & A session with Darina too at 7:00pm –


First Sunday Summer Barbeques at Wells House & Gardens Wexford. Get together with friends and the family for a summer barbeque – with Pat O’Neill’s award winning Dry Cured Bacon Co sausages, steak from Kinsellas Butcher in Gory, freshly made salads sourced from the Saturday Gorey Farmers Market – on the first Sunday of every Summer month. See a falconry display or take a woodland walk… – dates 2nd June, 7th July and 4th August, 2013 –


Love Gourmet Week in Limerick and Shannon is now in its third year and continuing to gain momentum. 1st to 9th June 2013 – see  for a list of participating restaurants and events.


Be one of the first to eat in Yannick and Louise’s new restaurant. Nede opened this month in Meeting House Square – Temple Bar. I’ve eaten their food on several occasions and I’m very excited. They are being dubbed as Ireland newest superstar chefs – a title they don’t relish or court but nonetheless watch this space – 016705372 or


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