ArchiveJune 2014

Darina’s trip to Bordeau

No mistaking where I was – Bordeaux airport has grape vines planted close to Arrivals with a red rose at the end of each row to encourage bees to help with pollination. Even thought Bordeaux is all about wine, that wasn’t the primary purpose of our trip. We had been invited to the wedding of the granddaughter of Andre Lourton, the patriarch of one of the most famous wine families in Bordeaux. The young bride and groom looked radiant, the sun shone, the wine flowed, the food was delicious, lots of oysters, crepinettes, foie gras, duck in every possible way, exquisite cheese in sublime condition and molten chocolate pudding with pistachio ice cream.
Fireworks lit up the starlit sky over the vineyards and chateau, guests from all over the world danced till the early hours.
It’s an ill wind that doesn’t benefit someone – the Aer Lingus strike meant we had to leave a day early so we had an unexpected mini break. The countryside was so beautiful, lush and green, and well wooded in areas not suitable for vines. The names of some of the most famous wines in the world leap off the road signs, wild flowers grow in the hedges, poppies here and there, frequent war memorials a poignant reminder of the devastation in this area during the first and second world war.
There are markets virtually in every town Lilbourne was recently voted the best in France, an appealing melange of beautiful fresh vegetables, fruit and Summer truffles, farmhouse cheeses, Agen prunes, oysters, kitchen utensils, plants, live poultry, espadrilles and some of the best charcuterie I’ve ever seen in France .
We stayed in the most charming bed and breakfast called the Forge owned by Carol de Montrichard, a beautifully restored French farmhouse in the middle of almost a hectare of gardens, wild flower meadow and fruit orchards. The house was packed with antiques and chic finds, comfy chintsy sofas, French tapestry chairs, a baby grand piano and rows and rows of interesting books and old New Yorker magazines to browse through. The bed sheets were old French linen and bliss to sleep in and the breakfast table was laden with pretty china and silver and a bowl of freshly picked cherries still warm from the tree. Carol who has an art and culture background also does week long culinary cooking tours for small groups of 6-8 friends. There’s hands-on cooking in private houses with talented young chefs, trips to local markets, vineyards and artisan producers with lots of little surprises thrown in. Her bed and breakfast can also be let to a family for a week or more and sleeps up to 11. The garden is a haven for all the song birds as well as hoopoe, storks, eagles, frogs and crickets. Guests can help themselves to ripe cherries from the trees et al.
A real find close to Branne and St Emillion, with its cobbled streets and myriad of wine shops, don’t miss the canelles and macaroons for which the area is so famous. Lots of gardens open to the public including Etamines a rambling garden with fish ponds and avaries and the Jardin des Legumes in Oublies , we had a particularly delicious lunch at La Poudette in Puzoles. Langoustine bisque with savoury Chantilly with Espelette pepper, carpaccio of duck breast with roasted peanuts, parsley, shallot and extra virgin olive oil with a quail egg on top and some wild rocket leaves. The chef was Frederick Jombart, his partner Sophie Bantous was the maître d. Their son Martin played the clarinet for us as we drank our coffee – utterly charming.
A dish made from the black pig of the area was also delicious and I loved the cherries with pistachio ice cream and with a filo cigarette sitting on top.
La Caffe Cuisine in Branne was also highly recommended but we didn’t make it. www.cuisinecafe.

Morello Cherry 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/2 sticks) butter
2 ozs (50g/1/3 cup) castor sugar
2 eggs, preferably free range
12 ozs (300g/2 1/2 cups) white flour, preferably unbleached

2lbs (900g) fresh cherries
1 – 2 tablespoons Kirsch (optional)
5 ozs (150g/2/3 cup) sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 tablespoon ground almonds
egg wash-made with one beaten egg and a dash of milk
castor sugar for sprinkling

To Serve
softly whipped cream

1 x round tin, 9 inches (23cm) by 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 a little more than half of it to line the tin. Destalk the cherries and fill the tart tin. Sprinkle with Kirsch if using. Then cover with a mixture of sugar, ground almonds and cornflour. Cover with a lid of pastry, seal edges, decorate with cherry shapes and pastry leaves. Egg wash and bake in the preheated oven until the cherries are tender – 45 minutes to 1 hour. When cooked, sprinkle lightly with castor sugar and serve with softly whipped cream.



Agen Prune and Armagnac Tart

We love this delicious version which comes from The River Café Cook Book by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers


Serves 10-12

225g (8ozs/generous 1 cup) flour
25g (1oz/1/8 cup) castor sugar
110g (4ozs/1 stick) unsalted butter
1 egg

400 g (14oz) Agen prunes
425ml (15fl oz/scant 2 cups) strong breakfast tea, leaves strained
4 tablespoons (60ml/2 1/2fl oz/generous 1/4 cup) Armagnac
300g (11oz/scant 3 sticks) unsalted butter
300g (11oz/scant 1 1/2 cups) caster sugar
300g (11oz) peeled, blanched whole almonds, ground to a sandy consistency in a food processor
3 large eggs, free range if possible
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of flour (optional)

To Serve
crème fraîche

1 x 30.5cm (12 inch) tart tin with ‘pop-up base

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

Remove the stones from the prunes and soak in strong breakfast tea for 30 minutes. Remove the prunes from the tea and drizzle with 4 tablespoons of Armagnac.

Next make the pastry.
Sieve the flour and sugar into a large bowl. Cut the butter into cubes, toss in the flour and then rub in with your fingertips. Keep everything as cool as possible; if the fat is allowed to melt, the finished pastry may be tough. When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, stop.

Whisk the egg. Using a fork to stir, add just enough liquid to bring the pastry together, then discard the fork and collect it into a ball with your hands, this way you can judge more accurately if you need a few more drops of liquid. Although rather damp pastry is easier to handle and roll out, the resulting crust can be tough and may well shrink out of shape as the water evaporates in the oven. The drier and more difficult-to-handle pastry will give a crisper, shorter crust.

Flatten into a round, cover the pastry with clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will make the pastry much less elastic and easier to roll.
Line the flan ring and bake blind for 20-25 minutes. Blind bake the pastry for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
Reduce the temperature to 160°C/315°F/Gas mark 2 1/2.

Meanwhile make the almond filling.
Cream the butter and sugar until pale and light. Add the almonds and combine. Stir in the eggs one by one, carefully stir in the flour. Arrange the prunes on the base of pastry shell. Pour any juices from the prunes into the almond mixture then spoon the filling on top of the prunes. Lift the prunes up out through the frangipane a little so they peep out. Bake in a preheated at 160°C/315°F/Gas Mark 2 1/2 oven for about 40 minutes – 1 hour. Serve with a dollop crème fraîche.

Pat Browne’s Almond Macaroons

We’ve got lots of macaroon recipes, but this one given to us by one of our tutors Pat Browne, is the most foolproof of all. They can be flavoured or coloured as you wish, a few drops of rosewater or orange blossom water, a little crème de menthe…… They are not exactly the same as the St Emilion macaroons but are very close, easy and utterly delicious.

Makes 74 approx of petit four size
4 free range organic egg whites, depending on size
25g (1oz) caster sugar
225g (8oz) icing sugar
115g (4¼oz) ground almonds

Baking tray or trays

No 9 plain piping nozzle

Preheat the oven to 140°C/275°F/Gas Mark 1
Cover the baking tray with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.

Whisk the egg whites and castor sugar until stiff.
Sieve the icing sugar twice into a bowl. Add the ground almonds to the icing sugar.
Mix half the dry ingredients into the egg whites and then fold in the remainder.
Pipe into approx. 2.5cm (1 inch) rounds onto a baking tray. Rest for 30 minutes, then bake in the preheated oven for 12-14 minutes until pale golden. Continue to cook the remainder.
The macaroons are cooked when they lift easily off the paper.
Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight tin.
If you want an extra treat, sandwich together with chocolate, lemon or coffee butter cream.


Prawn or Lobster Bisque with Chantilly Cream and Espelette Pepper

We can’t bear to waste any scrap of the shellfish. Use leftover prawn or lobster shells to make this delicious bisque – then you get double value from the shellfish. It’s rich so serve it in small bowls.

Serves 8

12 heads and claws of fresh prawn or the cracked claws and body shells of 2-3 lobsters 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots (finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
300ml (1/2 pint) fish stock (see recipe)
450g (1lb) fresh tomatoes or 1 x 400g (14oz) tin of tomatoes
2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) brandy
175ml (6fl oz/3/4 cup) cream
salt and freshly ground pepper

Chantilly Cream
110g (4oz) whipped cream
Grated rind of ½ lemon
Pinch salt
Espelette Pepper
fresh flat parsley or chervil leaves

Use a hammer to crush the prawns and lobster shells into small pieces. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the shallots and garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the bits of prawns and lobster shells and also the fish stock (see recipe). Stir and cook 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, parsley and brandy and cook for 5-10 minutes (the bisque should be just simmering).

Take the bisque of the heat, strain off the big bits, and liquidise. Then strain through a sieve. Return to the saucepan. Stir in the cream, season and taste. The bisque should be light and smooth in texture.

Fold the lemon rind into the softly whipped cream and add a pinch of salt. Top each bowl with a blob of savoury Chantilly, sprinkled with Espelette pepper.

Serve in warm bowls and garnish with a few flat parsley leaves.


Hot Tips
More excitement in Stoneybatter – The lovely Michelle Darmody of the Cake Café has opened a new place called Slice. As with the Cake Café they use local Irish produce to create good quality home style cooking. The salad leaves and most vegetables are sourced from Mc Nallys farm in North County Dublin, all of the milk in organic. Sally Barnes smokes the fish and all of the meat and cheese are from small Irish producers and of courses there are lots of cakes as you would image. Ray O’ Neill is a Ballymaloe Cookery School past student is her Manager in chief.

Date for your diary.
A Long Table Dinner at Ballymaloe Cookery School – Tickets have gone on sale for this year’s Long Table Dinner hosted by Darina Allen in the greenhouse in the midst of the tomatoes and scarlet runner beans on Tuesday, 22nd July (it’s been a sell out for the past few years). Rory O’Connell will create the menu – a celebration of the produce of the organic farm and gardens and local area with fish and shellfish from nearby Ballycotton. Dinner is €120 per person Advanced booking essential – proceeds go to East Cork Slow Food Educational Project. Telephone: (021) 4646 785/


Teachers Culinary Research Visit to Dublin

The Dublin restaurant and café scene is really humming once again. Every now and then the Ballymaloe Cookery School team of teachers go on a research trip to see what is happening on the culinary food scene. Recently we did an intensive trip to the metropolis and tasted some very exciting food in a variety of restaurants and cafés. We began our trip to the Fumbally in Fumbally Lane run by Aisling Rogerson and Luca D’Alfonso and a vibrant young team. The food is simple, delicious, uncomplicated but put together in a chic and edgy way we loved the brunch dishes – the Fumbally take on the Dr Suess green eggs and ham toasted brioche with avocado and scrambled eggs and chorizo. The pulled porchetta with slow roasted shoulder of pork, caper mayo and spiced apple sauce was another great combo. Specials are written on the blackboard above the till. The fresh produce for the kitchen is piled against the wall in wooden crates like a glorious still-life in this airy contemporary space with a cool, retro, comfy, shabby chic feel yet elegant feel.
The GreenHouse on Dawson Street served a totally different style of food. Mickael Viljanen who hales from Finland is one of the most talented young chefs cooking in Ireland at the moment. He and his team cooked us a delicious three course lunch with lots of excitement on each beautifully crafted plate – a carpaccio of scallop, shoulder of suckling pig and apricot tart with elderflower ice cream.
We popped our heads into Murphys Ice cream from Dingle, wandered through the aisles of tempting fresh and delicates a produce in Fallon and Byrne. We found lots of new ingredients – fresh strawrasberries and pineberries (like underripe strawberries), Teff flour which I’d been looking out for to make an Ethopian flat bread and red rice from the Camargue. We also fled past the Pepperpot in the Powerscourt Centre where Marian Kilcoyne’s (a past student) Café Restaurant was throbbing with lots of unhearably tempting treats.
Ananda is the flagship restaurant of Asheesh Dewan’s Indian restaurant empire under the stewardship of Sunil Ghai and his team of Indian chefs certainly live up to its reputation. The Ballymaloe Cookery School tutors were totally wowed by his tasting menu which started with Pan Poori and ended with Gulab Jamun pistachio icecream and caramel mousse. We got another warm welcome from Garett Fitzgerald and James Boland at Brother Hubbards in Capel Street. This café cum deli has built up a fantastic reputation in the less than two years since they opened. The menu is packed with unbearably tempting choices, gorgeous sandwiches, salads, brunch dishes piled high on good bread from Tartine Bakery, virtually the only items that is not made from scratch in house part Garett Fitzgerald and Danielle Beattie who does all the baking are both past students of the Ballymaloe Cookery School. I loved the cannellini beans with tomato sauce and slow roasted pulled pork with a fried egg and a sprinkling of sumac on top but there were appreciative sounds coming from all directions of the table as we tasted our way through the menu.
At Palais des Thés in Wicklow Street Niall did a tutored tasting with us. We tasted a beautiful selection of exquisite teas including Thé du Hammam , Japanse Green Tea, Sencha Ariake.
A light lunch at Cornucopia the long established vegetarian restaurant in Wicklow Street was another enlightening experience.
On the way home they greatly enjoyed a visit to the Avoca shop where Butchers, Erine and Sharon explained the philosophy and skill behind the rearing and butchering and using every scrap of the animal from the nose to the tail.
Altogether a hugely enjoying and enlightening few days.

Cornucopia’s Chilled Carrot and Avocado soup

Makes 8 portions

This soup has become a very popular and everyday menu item in Cornucopia. At first people were often reluctant to try a chilled soup in our temperate climate, as a good warming bowl of soup is our traditional cure for the winter chills. However, as our customers warmed to the idea of a chilled carrot soup, news spread of the velvety smooth concoction and soon we sold out of it everyday.
The main flavours here are carrot, garlic and lemon. Using the carrot juice, avocado and olive oil as a base, try substituting fresh ginger or your fresh herb of choice instead of the garlic and lemon for variety and after a few attempts you may settle on your own personal favourite.

1.5 litre carrot juice (about 2.5 kg Carrots)
2 avocado’s, cut in half, stone removed and peeled (280g when prepped)
100ml lemon juice (about medium 4 lemons)
1 large clove of garlic, peeled
½ teaspoon sea salt
150mls extra virgin olive oil

Use a juicer to make the carrot juice. There are two ways to do this, using peeled or unpeeled carrots and it all depends on the freshness of the vegetables and how much precious time you want to spend peeling them! We have found that very fresh carrots, and taking the time to peel them ensures a brighter coloured soup. If you want to skip the peeling process then by all means do as it won’t affect the taste. To make 1.5 litres of juice, it takes approximately 2.5kgof carrots. Make sure to measure the juice from the carrots as the recipe needs 1.5 litres, if you produce more juice then drink it as a reward for all your hard work!
If you don’t have a juicer, bottled carrot juice can be substituted but as it is likely to have been pasteurized it may not taste as fresh and bright, but is a decent alternative.


Pour 750ml of the carrot juice into a large jug then add the prepared avocado, lemon juice garlic and sea salt. Pulse with a stick blender to puree then slowly pour in the olive oil and the remaining carrot juice until creamy and well combined. Pour the soup into a lidded container and place in the fridge to chill for at least two hours or more.
To serve, bring the soup to just under room, or desired temperature then stir well and pour into 8 medium bowls.


Brother Hubbard’s Middle Eastern Breakfast Plate

For our menu, I draw from our experiences of travelling around the Middle East – this is what I would have had most mornings before going off to visit the souks and the various ancient wonders.
As we head into summer, it feels like a wonderfully refreshing, light-yet-substantial, and healthy, brunch dish. It is amazingly simple to put together and to make in bigger quantities for entertaining – despite its name, I imagine it would work equally well with a glass of white wine for a refreshing and light summer supper. As with all recipes, the better the quality of your ingredients, the better the outcome!

Brother Hubbards Middle Eastern Breakfast Plate
Serves 4

1 cucumber
2 (or more) good quality tomatoes
1 block Feta Cheese (180-200g) (classic Greek Feta or similar style – white, crumbly, salty)
12 – 16 olives (we use Kalamata)
4 good sprigs of fresh mint
4 hard-boiled free-range and organic eggs (freshly cooked by boiling for 7 minutes, but cooled in cold water and then peeled)
1 quantity of Hummus (have fun with the recipe below, or a very good deli-bought variety)
Pitta Breads (1-2 per person)
170g (6oz) chickpeas, cooked, save the cooking liquid, use tinned for easy entertaining
freshly squeezed juice of 2-3 lemons, or to taste
2-3 large or small cloves garlic, crushed
150ml (5fl oz/generous 1/2 cup) tahini paste (available from health food shops and delicatessens)
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Optional: smoked salmon, cold meats, chorizo, fresh radish cut into chunks

Cut your cucumber in half lengthways and then each half cut diagonally into large bite-size chunks. Cut the ripe plum tomatoes into wedges and break the feta into larger chunks.
Place chunks of cucumber, tomato wedges, feta on large individual plates (or one giant platter to share), add a few big spoons of the hummus in a little bowl, the mint sprigs and 6-8 olives per person (see the end for a hummus recipe). Arrange so it looks like a lovely platter of freshness, colour and flavor. Serve with the egg on the plate.
We usually sprinkle some sumac over the hummus and a little za’atar over the feta – these are spices which we have gone to great trouble to source, but are often difficult to come by in Ireland. Replace with a little sprinkle of cumin or good paprika, a drizzle of lemon juice or just really great olive oil (or all of the above!).
Have this with some warmed pitta bread on the side – splash a little water on the pittas, shake off the excess and just heat under a grill or in a toaster.
If you fancy, you can serve slices of smoked salmon, cold cuts, or even some pan-fried chorizo on the side to make it more substantial.
Drain the chickpeas, save the cooking liquid. Whizz up the remainder in a food processor with the freshly squeezed lemon juice and a little cooking water if necessary. Add the crushed garlic, tahini paste, cumin and salt to taste. Blend to a soft creamy paste. Taste and continue to add lemon juice and salt until you are happy with the flavour.
If you are making the hummus (which I highly recommend), have a go at this method – it is intentionally loose so that you can develop your own approach to hummus: Take some cooked chickpeas (3 large cupfuls, or 2 tin,s drained and rinsed) and put in a food processor/blitzer, with a few dessert spoons of hot water, a few glugs of the best olive oil you have, a dessert spoon of tahini, 1 clove of minced/crushed garlic, a few good pinches of ground cumin, and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Blitz until well pureed (or less so, if you like more texture). Taste and add some salt and pepper – the consistency should be a thick paste, not too runny. Adjust the flavor until it is the way you like it (we like it with a good strong lemon tang, a brave hint of garlic and cumin, and well seasoned) – just add more of any of the ingredients listed and blitz some more to distribute the flavours, until it tastes delicious to you – tweak as you go, this really is worth having fun with and should reflect the type of hummus you like.
When eating, mix and match the flavours and textures– have morsels of the bread, dipped in the hummus, with a little cucumber, mint, feta and the other ingredients. No two mouthfuls will taste the same!

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream with Pedro Ximenza

Really good cream makes really good ice cream. This recipe is made on an egg-mousse base with softly whipped cream. It produces a deliciously rich ice cream with a smooth texture that does not need further whisking during the freezing period. This ice cream should not be served frozen hard; remove it from the freezer at least 10 minutes before serving. You can add other flavourings to the basic recipe: liquid ingredients such as melted chocolate or coffee should be folded into the mousse before adding the cream. For chunkier ingredients such as chocolate chips or muscatel raisins soaked in rum, finish the ice cream, semi-freeze it and then stir them through, otherwise they will sink to the bottom.

Serves 12–16

4 organic egg yolks
110g (4oz/1/2 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and seeds from 1/3 vanilla pod
1.2 litres (2 pints/5 cups) softly whipped cream (measured after it is whipped, for accuracy)

Pedro Ximenza

Put the egg yolks into a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy (keep the whites for meringues). Combine the sugar with 200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) of water in a small heavy-based saucepan. Stir over heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, then remove the spoon and boil the syrup until it reaches the ‘thread’ stage, about 106–113°C (223–235°F): it will look thick and syrupy, and when a metal spoon is dipped in the last drops of syrup will form thin threads. Pour this boiling syrup in a steady stream onto the egg yolks, whisking all the time by hand. (If you are whisking the mousse in a food mixer, remove the bowl and whisk the boiling syrup in by hand; otherwise it will solidify on the sides of the bowl.)
Add the vanilla extract and vanilla seeds and continue to whisk the mixture until it becomes a thick, creamy white mousse.
This is the stage at which, if you’re deviating from this recipe, you can add liquid flavourings such as coffee. Fold the softly whipped cream into the mousse, pour into a bowl, cover and freeze.
Scoop the ice-cream into chilled bowls onto plates. Drizzle a little Pedro Ximenez over the ice-cream on the plate just before you tuck in.

Hot Tips
Sumac, Za’atar and other Middle Eastern ingredients available from Fallon and Byrne, Asian Shops and from Ottolenghi by mail order –

Slow Food
Wild Salmon is now in season for a few short weeks, Slow Food are organising a Celebration of Wild Salmon at Belleek Castle, Ballina on Sunday 22nd June at 1pm. – There will be a Casting Lesson on the Lawn – Wild Salmon Canapes – A Talk on Wild Salmon by Mairin Ui Chomain and A Cookery Demonstration hosted by Chef Stephen Lenahen – phone: Suzanne 087 9170422 –

Slow Food Four Rivers in the South East of Ireland have launched a brilliant initiative, a ‘Hens for Schools’ competition
For details and how to enter, see

Date for your diary
The Westport Festival of Music & Food is back in 2014 . It is a 2 day, multi stage outdoor festival which takes place at Westport House, Westport, Co Mayo, on Sat 28th & Sun 29th June 2014. Rachel & I will be doing cookery demonstrations on Saturday 28th at 4 – 6pm respectively – we’ve so looking forward to being in lovely Mayo once again.

Sage Restaurant – 12 Mile Ethos

For our May Slow Food East Cork event we returned to Sage Restaurant in Midleton to celebrate the local food of East Cork. Where better to choose than Kevin and Réidín Aherne’s restaurant which over just a few short years has become known for its 12 Mile Ethos..

Kevin has carefully created close links with local producers and their photographs take pride of place on the walls of the restaurant. The menu reflected their produce and 7 or 8 joined us for dinner and spoke about their enterprises.


Organic farmers Dan and Anne Aherne from Ballysimon who produce beef, chickens and eggs. James Stafford from Roche’s Point whose longhorn beef provided the main course for the Slow Food dinner. Local butcher Frank Murphy whom so many of us depend on to slaughter our heritage meat breeds.


Retired Derek Taylor, telephone – 087 232 9554 who grows organic vegetables and herbs in quite a small way also near Roches Point in East Cork.
Derek Hannon from Greenfield Farm who grows radishes and salad leaves.


Fish Smoker Bill Casey, telephone 086 6611468 who smokes organic salmon in his smokehouse in Shanagarry.
Beekeeper Charlie Terry and his wife Bridie from Cloyne who have produced raw honey for 25 years on their land near Midleton.
Farmhouse cheesemaker Jane Murphy who produces the beautiful range of Ardsallagh goat cheeses on the family farm near Carrigtwohill.
They all spoke beautifully about their life style choice and their product.


Pat Van de Bake from Slow Food Holland joined us and spoke about the vibrant Slow Food Youth Movement in the Netherlands and the growing interest in growing your own food and food issues.
Martin and Noreen Conroy who rear pure bred Saddleback pigs on their small farm near Leamlara and process it all themselves and sell to an increasingly appreciative public at Midleton and Douglas Farmers Markets. Martin and Noreen’s son has now come into the business with them after an apprenticeship with renowned Massimo Spigaroli near Parma in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy – so watch that space.
Note: Tom & Jacinta Clancy, rear free-range chickens and turkeys in their farm overlooking the sea in Ballycotton – they too have a loyal following. Look out for them at Mahon Point on Thursdays and Douglas Farmers Market on Saturdays.


Kevin was recently awarded the Best Chef in Cork accolade from the Restaurant Association of Ireland.
Kevin’s mission statement “Our menu is based on our 12 mile ethos. We endeavour to create dishes showcasing what is produced, reared or grown within a 12 mile radius of the restaurant”

Slow Food Producer’s Dinner Menu
8th May, 2014
The menu included

12 Mile Sharing Board

Scottish Highland Plate Sirloin, Neck, Rib and Shin

Rhubarb, Jelly, Meringue & Jersey Cream Ice Cream

How fortunate is he to have so many excellent food producers close by and how fortunate are they to have this young talented chef to support them and champion their cause – others please follow.
The hedgerows are brimming with elderflower blossoms and the tart green gooseberries are ready to pick, a marriage made in heaven so here are a few suggestions to use the early summer bounty.

Elderflower Champagne

This magical recipe transforms perfectly ordinary ingredients into a delicious sparkling drink. The children make it religiously every year and then share the bubbly with their friends.

2 heads of elderflowers
560g (11/4lb) sugar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4.5L (8pints) water
1 lemon

Remove the peel from the lemon with a swivel top peeler. Pick the elderflowers in full bloom. Put into a bowl with the lemon peel, lemon juice, sugar, vinegar and cold water. Leave for 24 hours, then strain into strong screw top bottles. Lay them on their sides in a cool place. After 2 weeks it should be sparkling and ready to drink. Despite the sparkle this drink is non-alcoholic.
Top Tip:
The bottles need to be strong and well sealed, otherwise the Elderflower champagne will pop its cork.

Claire Ptak’s Elderflower Cupcakes

Makes 12

125g (4 1/2oz/generous 1 stick) butter, very soft
200g (7oz/scant 1 cup) caster sugar
3 organic, free-range eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
275g (9oz/generous 2 cups) self-raising flour
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) lemon zest
75ml (3fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) lemon juice
75ml (3fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) milk

190g (6 1/2oz/generous 1 3/4 sticks) soft butter
800-1.2kg (1lb 10oz – 2lb 12oz/5 – 9 cups) icing sugar
2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) milk
75ml (3fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) elderflower cordial
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 muffin tray lined with 12 muffin cases.

Preheat the oven to 160°C325°F/Gas Mark 3.

Cream the very soft butter and sugar until almost white and fluffy. Add the eggs and salt and mix until fully incorporated. Add half the flour until just combined.
Add the zest, juice and milk and mix until combined. Finally add the remaining flour.
Scoop into paper lined muffin tins. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes.
Remove from the tin and set on a wire rack to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the icing.

To make the icing.
Cream the soft butter on a low speed in a Kenwood using a k beater, add some sugar and gradually add the milk, elderflower cordial and lemon juice. Then add the remaining sugar. The speed must be kept slow so as to not incorporate too much air into the buttercream.
Beat for about 3 minutes to get to the proper texture and to allow the sugar to dissolve. If necessary add more icing sugar if needed. This varies with the air temperature and the acidity of the juices, etc. Ice each cup cake and decorate with a few elderflower if available.

Note: omit the salt if using salted butter.


 Elderflower Fritters

These are very easy to make, very crispy and once you’ve tasted one, you won’t be able to stop! Serve them with the Gooseberry and Elderflower Compote, below. Serves 4

110g (4oz/1 cup) plain flour
pinch of salt
1 organic egg
150ml (5fl oz/generous 1/2 cup) lukewarm water
8–12 elderflower heads
caster sugar
sunflower oil for frying

Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and drop in the egg. Using a whisk, bring in the flour gradually from the edges, slowly adding in the water at the same time. Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer to 180°C/350°F. Hold the flowers by the stalks and dip into the batter (add a little more water or milk if the batter is too thick). Fry until golden brown in the hot oil. Drain on kitchen paper, toss in caster sugar and serve immediately with gooseberry and elderflower compote.


Green Gooseberry and Elderflower Compote

When the elderflowers come into bloom, then I know it’s time to pick green gooseberries. They feel as hard as hailstones, but for cooking it’s the perfect time. Enlist the help of little ones to top and tail the elderflowers.

900g (2lb) green gooseberries
2 or 3 elderflower heads
600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) cold water
450g (1lb/2 cups) sugar

First, top and tail the gooseberries.

Tie the elderflower heads in a little square of muslin, put the bag in a stainless-steel or enameled saucepan, add the sugar and cover with cold water. Bring slowly to the
boil and continue to boil for 2 minutes. Add the gooseberries and simmer just until the fruit bursts. Allow to get cold.

Serve in a pretty bowl and decorate with fresh elderflowers.



Hot Tips
Another exciting date for your diary. A once off opportunity to hear Craig Sams of Carbon Gold speak about the importance of biochar as a soil improver and its importance to the environment and the many opportunities it creates for farmers and food producers. Thursday June 19th at 7pm at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. Tel: 021 4646785 or email . See the link and website


Take a break – Drop in to Afternoon Tea at Harvey Nichols in Dublin on Tuesday June 17th 3.30-5.30pm. Darina Allen will host Afternoon Tea at Itsa showcasing some of her delicious recipes from 30 years at Ballymaloe Cookery School followed by a book signing. Tickets €45 – please email to book tickets.


Just heard about a great little place to eat on the end of the Beara Peninsula. Rhonwen Lowes has opened a Bistro in Eyeries serving local artisan foods and freshly made breads. The rosemary bread and three hummous dips are a great success and the buffalo burger from the local buffalo herd is also a winner. Check it out – or tel: 027 74884.
Where do I get green gooseberries? The English Market in Cork or Rose Cottage Fruit Farm in Co Laois – they have a stall at the Midleton and Mahon Farmers Market. While you are there look out for beautiful fresh lobsters wrapped in seaweed from Michael Barrett 086 6000438, depending on the weather.

What you missed at the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine


After months of build up and careful planning by Rory O’ Connell, Rebecca Cronin, Colm McCan and the Litfest team the 2nd event came and went in a whirlwind of exciting workshops, debates, lectures, tastings,demos …..  The fringe festival in The Big Shed was a throbbing melee of food stalls, craft beer makers, artisan producers, fresh coffee roasters and Ivan’s restaurant …

Camilla Houston who spreads magic everywhere she goes, had created a fantastic Family Corner decorated with huge paper mache fruit and vegetables and Happie the cow was there for the kids to climb on.
This year the festival was renamed the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine to acknowledge our title festival sponsors.
Camilla and her team of elves had back to back activities for the children all connected to food and growing. Rene Redzepi’s daughter Arwen loved learning how to make smoothies. GIY were also there encouraging and showing people how to grow some of their own food.
Philip Dennhardt and his team at Saturday Pizzas turned out bubbly pizzas from his woodburning oven. Laurent Catinot and daughters did crepes and chicken gizzard salad, while aficionados queued.
Next door in the Drinks Theatre, Colm Mc Can consultant sommelier at Ballymaloe House hosted one brilliant wine, drink, spirit, craft beer and cocktail event after another. The look was upscale retro, with 1 green bottle hanging on the wall beside 99 dark bottles. The great graffetti now called Street Art and rightly so was done by Dusto (Adam O’ Connor) and the installations were by Sam Gleeson, Barry Rodgers from Elemental Designs and Sharon Greene, Yvonne Woods and Aoife Banville. All were food and literature connected – after all this was a literary festival.
In the Grain store Rene Redzepi held forth on The Nordic Food Revolution. Joanna Blythman, Ella Mc Sweeney and John Mc Kenna debated on Good Fats, Bad Fats and much much more.
Myrtle Allen’s Cookery archive with Regina Sexton was another stand-out event as was the Butter Vikings.
A shuttle bus ferried people backwards and forwards to the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry where a mind blowing list of iconic chefs and cooks from all over the world wowed their audience. People were utterly gob smacked by feisty Diana Kennedy, 91 going on 19 who insisted on being involved in the mis en place for all her dishes the day before. What is she on…. She has extraordinary energy and vitality and gave a fantastic performance of delicious food. There was also Maggie Beer from Australia who reintroduced us to verjuice and cooked beautiful simple food with our fresh ingredients. Standing room only for the Ottolenghi boys, Yotam and Sammi and sadly we had to turn people away.
RTE finest, with Martin Shanahan, Catherine Fulvio and Paul Flynn gave a splendid and hilarious performance. Ross Lewis with Rachel Allen by his side cooked some of the dishes from his beautiful book Chapter One and clearly illustrated why he is so successful. Much loved as ever our past students, Clodagh McKenna, Lily Higgins, and Jordan Bourke made us very proud and signed lots of books after their session.
Rory O Connell and Ariana Bundy shared the stage and cooked some of their favourite recipes from Master It and Pomegranates and Roses and there was so much more – altogether a great weekend. We’ve already begun to work on next year’s event 15th – 17th May. Pop those dates in your diary now. We’ve got a fantastic line up planned of which more anon.

Maggie’s Beers Oyster Shooters

One year, a great caterer and friend of mine, Cath Kerry, introduced a verjuice oyster shooter to as many of her customers as she possibly could. I thought it a great idea, then, given my love of jellies, took it a step further by adding gelatine. Having the oysters encased in a soft verjuice jelly, with the surprise of the thyme and vinegar on top, is both a taste and textural sensation – and it’s so simple to do. And oh what a difference it makes if you shuck your own oysters.
These shooters are best when the jelly is only just softly set so that the jelly-encased oyster slips easily out of its glass.

Makes 6 shooters
1/2 x 2g gelatine leaf
110ml (4fl oz/1/2 cup) verjuice
1/2 teaspoon caster sugar
6 oysters, freshly shucked
1/2 golden shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon thyme, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Soak the gelatine leaf in cold water for a couple of minutes to soften. Heat the verjuice and sugar in a small saucepan over a high heat until sugar dissolves, then leave to cool a little. Squeeze the extra liquid out of the gelatine leaf and stir into the lukewarm verjuice until dissolved.

Divide one third of the verjuice mixture between 6 shot glasses then refrigerate until the jelly sets. Keep the remaining 2/3 in a warm place so that it doesn’t set while the mixture in the glasses is in the refrigerator. If it does set, gently reheat over a low heat. Place a freshly shucked oyster on top of each of the set jellies, then top with the remaining verjuice mixture and refrigerate until set.

Meanwhile mix shallot, sherry vinegar and thyme, then season to taste and leave for 20 minutes for flavours to infuse. Top each shot glass with a little of the shallot mixture, then serve each one with a teaspoon so that your guests can enjoy their oyster shooters in one bite.

Ottolenghi’s Saffron Chicken and Herb Salad

Serves 6

1 orange
50g (2oz) honey
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
about 300ml (10fl oz/1 1/4 cups) water
1kg (2 1/4lbs) skinless chicken breast
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 small fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
15g (1/2oz) picked coriander leaves
15g (1/2oz) picked basil leaves, torn
15 picked mint leaves, torn
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 red chilli thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
salt and black pepper

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

Trim and discard 1cm (1/2 inch) off the top and tail of the orange and cut it into 12 wedges, keeping the skin on. Remove any pips. Place the wedges in a small saucepan with the honey, saffron, vinegar and just enough water to cover the oranges. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about an hour. At the end you should be left with soft orange and about 3 tablespoons of thick syrup; add water during the cooking if needed. Use a food processor to blitz the orange and syrup into a smooth, runny paste; again, add a little water if needed.

Mix the chicken breast with half the olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper, and place on a very (!) hot ridged griddle pan. Sear for about 2 minutes on each side to get clear char-mark all over. Transfer to a roasting tray and place in the oven 15-20 minutes, or until just cooked.

Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, but still warm, break it with your hands into rough and quite large pieces. Place in a large mixing bowl, pour over half the orange paste and stir well. The other half you can keep in the fridge for a few days and would make a good addition for herb salsa to serve with oily fish such as mackerel or salmon.

Add the remaining ingredients to the salad, including the rest of the olive oil, and toss gently. Taste, add salt and pepper and, if needed, some more olive oil and lemon juice.

Ariana Bundys Cold Cucumber Soup with Plump Raisins, Walnuts, Mint and Spring Onions

Iranians eat a lot of cucumbers. They’re considered more of a fruit than a vegetable and eaten as such. The cucumbers in Iran are small, juicy and packed with flavour. When you bite into one, the smell fills the whole room. At parties, they’re piled high, with some rock salt on the side for sprinkling.

This yogurt and cucumber coup is an example of a perfectly balanced ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ dish. ‘Cold’ yogurt is mixed with ‘hot’ walnuts and raisins, with fresh herbs for easy digestion.

Here, I’ve used different types of yogurts to mimic the texture and slightly sour taste of yogurt made in the villages of Iran. You can also use natural full-fat or even fat-free yogurt, mixed with a teaspoon of lemon juice. One of my best foodie friends, Maryam Samiy uses champagne grapes instead of raisins, which adds a whole new dimension to this dish.
1 large cucumber, semi peeled, seeded and diced or 6 small cucumbers, diced.
400g (14oz/1 1/2 cups) of low-fat Greek yogurt or crème-fraîche.
200g (7oz/3/4 cup) full-fat natural yogurt
200g (7oz/3/4 cup) soured cream
50g (2oz/1/2 cup) raisins
4 tablespoons roasted walnuts chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
3 tarragon sprigs finely chopped
2 spring onions finely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
fresh pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon dried rose petals, to decorate.

Mix all the ingredients except the rose petals together in a large bowl. But if preparing in advance, add the cucumbers at the last minute so that they stay crunchy and don’t give out too much juice. You can also slice the cucumber first, sprinkle with salt, leave for an hour in a colander, run under the tap to remove the excess salt, dry the slices and then dice them. They’ll be extra crunchy and not go limp the next day in case you have any soup left over.

Sprinkle the soup with rose petals and serve in individual bowls. On a hot day, add a few ice-cubes.

Rory O Connells Yoghurt and Lemon Cake with Raisins and Sherry

This is a Middle Eastern recipe which I like very much and I serve it as a dessert cake. I sometimes serve it in the winter months with a seasonal Salad of Dates and Oranges rather than the sherried raisins. This cake rises in the cooking and then falls a little to present itself looking like a cross between a cake and a tart.

Thick Greek style yoghurt is best for this cake

Serves 6-8

4 large eggs
100g (3 1/2oz/scant 1/2 cup) caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
60g (2 1/2oz) plain white flour
400g (14oz) Greek style yoghurt
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

Prepare a 23cm (9 inch) spring form tin, by brushing the sides with melted butter. Line the base of the tin with a disc of parchment paper. Separate the eggs and place the whites in a clean bowl for whisking later. With an electric mixer or a hand held machine, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla to a thick pale cream.

Sieve the flour and fold it into the egg and sugar mixture with the yoghurt, lemon zest and juice and mix to a smooth consistency. Whisk the egg whites to a stiff but not dry peak and fold lightly but thoroughly into the mixture. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 50 –60 minutes, until the top is browned and the cake looks set and firm. The cake will have risen and then fallen during the cooking.

Remove the tin from the oven and place on a wire rack. After 5 minutes, run a blunt table knife around the inside of the tin to loosen the edges. Now remove the sides of the tin and allow the cake to cool for a further 20 minutes.

Place a flat plate, serving side down over the top of the cake. Invert the cake on to the plate so that the base of the tin is now uppermost. Remove the base of the tin and the parchment. Get another plate, the one you want to serve the cake on, and again invert the cake so you now have restored the cake to its correct serving position.

Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with sherried raisins spooned over the cake. Pass yoghurt or softly whipped cream separately.

Raisin and Sherry Sauce
75g (3oz) raisins
75ml (3fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) Oloroso Sherry or Pedro Ximinez

Place the raisins and sherry in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer and immediately remove from the heat. Allow to macerate for at least 1 hour.
Hot Tips
Green Saffron keep storming on – Arun and Olive have recently introduced some new spicy blends including one for Rogan Josh and Bombay Aloo – don’t miss their Vintage Basmati Rice – it’s a whole different experience – you’ll think you’ve never tasted rice before.

Date for your diary
What a joy to be able to snip your own fresh herbs outside the kitchen door – want to learn how and what to grow. Susan Turner consultant head gardener at Ballymaloe Cookery School is doing a half day course – Designing a Herb Garden on Monday 16th June, 9am – 2pm. Booking essential – phone – 021 4646785

Beef, Bulls, Butchers and Biodiversity
Maybe not everyone’s scene but the Agricultural History Society of Ireland have a fascinating Summer conference on Cattle in Ireland:, on 14th & 15th June in County Arms Hotel, Birr, Co Offaly. Lecture programme available on


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