ArchiveOctober 2014

Darina Allen: HallowE’en

Almost every culture around the world marks Halloween, the Day of the Dead or All Souls Day in it’s own magical way, but despite the differences, the basic idea behind all these customs is to honour, remember and appease the dead.

Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations are the most colourful and flamboyant, it’s a huge festival, celebrated by Mexicans all over the world. Common traditions include creating altars, Ofrenda, in the home to honour the dead, laying out offerings, sharing stories and reminiscences and visiting and cleaning the graves. This is a convivial rather than sombre affair with relatives bringing the favourite foods of the deceased to the graveyard to share a picnic with relatives and friends as they share memories of their loved ones.

For non-Mexicans their first introduction to the Day of the Dead seems spooky and macabre. Colourful skeletons, bones and skulls decorate both homes and food. The tradition of making sugar skulls, calaveras de azucar, endures. These gaily decorated vibrant candied skulls are not considered to be creepy or morbid, instead they are happy , even smiling or laughing, embellished with eye popping colours, hot pinks, neon blue, bright yellow, vivid orange, glowing green…. They can be further decorated with glitter, sequins, beads, rhinestones, feathers, shiny foil and googly eyes, anything that will stick to the icing. Female skulls can be adorned with paper hats, male with cowboy or sailor hats.

There’s a lot of room for creativity, but they are rarely eaten. Sugar skulls are placed on the altar and last for up to year. Check out Pinterest for a feast of colour.

Other Day of the Dead foods are Pan de Muerto, traditional Mexican sweet bread which is made in a variety of ways across different regions of Mexico. It’s easy to make but takes time and again can be decorated in a myriad of styles with bones and skulls and sparkly sugar on colourful icing.

In Spain, Halloween is a three day celebration, starting on the 31st October every year. The first is, Dia de las Brujas or Day of the Witches, this is also called Samhain or Noite des Calacus, Night of the Pumpkins in Galicia. This is followed by Dia de Todos los Santos, all Saints Day and finally on 2nd November, the customs and rituals of Dia de los Muertos, All Saints day, are observed as in Mexico. Halloween is not just about the dead it’s also celebration of the continuity of life.

Once again there are specific foods and drinks including one made from herbs and set alight to chase away the evil spirits, called quemadas.

Here in Ireland, Halloween festivities gather momentum every year. As with Christmas, the original raison d’être is all but forgotten in the frenzy of ‘trick or treating’ but still local bakers mark the festival by adding the traditional ring to a fruity yeasted bread called barmbrack and maybe a stick, a pea and a piece of rag for added excitement.
In our house we also eat colcannon made with the early kale – traditionally eaten in Ireland and Scotland, a little bowl was put outside on a window sill to ward away the evil spirits. It’s comfort food at it’s best.

Halloween Colcannon

Colcannon was one of the festive dishes eaten at Halloween, when a ring and a thimble would be hidden in the fluffy green-flecked mass. The ring denotes marriage, but the person who found the thimble would be a spinster for life. Poems would have been written and songs sung about this much-loved dish.
Threepenny or sixpenny bits were sometimes hidden in the colcannon at Halloween for children to find.

Serves about 8

450g (1lb) Savoy, spring cabbage or kale (kale is the most traditional)
1.3kg (3lb) ‘old’ potatoes, e.g. Golden Wonders or Kerr’s Pinks
about 225ml (8fl oz) milk
salt and freshly ground pepper
50g (2oz) butter

Scrub the potatoes, put them in a saucepan of cold water, add a good pinch of salt and bring to the boil. When the potatoes are half-cooked after about 15 minutes, strain off two-thirds of the water, replace the lid on the saucepan and put onto a gentle heat, leaving the potatoes to steam until they are cooked.
Meanwhile, if using cabbage, remove the dark outer leaves, wash the remainder, cut it into quarters, remove the core and cut finely across the grain. Boil in a little boiling water or bacon cooking water until soft. Drain and season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a little butter.
When the potatoes are just cooked, put the milk and the finely chopped shallots into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Pull the peel off the potatoes and discard. Mash the potatoes quickly, while they are still warm, and beat in enough boiling milk to make a fluffy purée. (If you have a large quantity, put the potatoes in the bowl of a food mixer and beat with the spade.) Then stir in the cooked cabbage and taste for seasoning. For perfection, serve immediately in a hot dish with a lump of butter melting in the centre.
Colcannon may be prepared ahead up to this point and reheated later in a moderate oven 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4, for 20–25 minutes. Cover while reheating so it doesn’t get too crusty on top.

Diana Kennedy’s Pan de Muerto

From The Art of Mexican Cooking (Bantam Books, 1989)
Makes 1 large bread, about 11 inches in diameter, or three small ones.

450g/1 lb (4 scant cups) plain white flour, plus extra for bowl and working surface
12g/ ½ oz (1 ¼ teaspoons) sea salt
50g/ 2oz ( 1/3 cup) sugar
Scant 25g /1oz (3 scant tablespoons) fresh yeast or 1 ½ scant tablespoons dry yeast
150ml /5 fl ozs ( ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) water
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a mixing bowl and gradually beat in the water and eggs. (Mexican bakers do not bother to cream the yeast, knowing that it is fresh – do it if you wish.) Continue beating until the dough forms a cohesive mass around the dough hook; it should be sticky, elastic and shiny – about 5 minutes. Turn out onto a floured board and form into a round cushion shape. Butter and flour a clean bowl. Place the dough in it and cover with greased plastic wrap and a towel and set aside in a warm place – ideally 21C / 70°F – until the dough doubles in volume, about 2 hours.

The Final Dough
The starter torn into small pieces
225g/ 8oz ( 1 cup) sugar
200g / 7 ozs (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing baking sheets
450g / 1 lb plain white flour, plus extra for board and bowl
8 egg yolks, lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons water
50ml/ 2 fl ozs ( ¼ cup) water, approximately
1 teaspoon orange flower water and/or grated rind of 1 orange

4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
¼ cup melted unsalted butter, approximately
50g / 2oz (1/3 cup) sugar, approximately
Liberally grease 4 baking sheets (for both breads while proofing). Put the starter, sugar and butter into a mixing bowl and mix well, gradually beating in the flour and egg yolks alternately. Beat in the water and flavouring – you should have a slightly sticky, smooth, shiny dough that just holds its shape (since eggs, flours and climates differ, you may need to reduce or increase the liquid). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a round cushion shape.

Wash out mixing bowl, butter and flour it, and replace the dough in it. Cover with greased plastic wrap and a towel and set aside in a warm place – ideally about 21C / 70°F – for about 1½ hours, until it almost doubles in size, or set aside overnight in the bottom of the refrigerator.

Bring the dough up to room temperature before attempting to work with it. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and divide the dough into two equal pieces. Set one aside for forming later. Take three quarters of the dough and roll it into a smooth ball. Press it out to a circle about 8 inches in diameter – it should be about 1-inch thick. Press all around the edge to form a narrow ridge – like the brim of a hat – and transfer to one of the greased baking sheets. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place (about 21c / 70°F) to rise about half its size – about 1 hour. Taking the remaining one-quarter of the dough, divide it into four equal parts. Roll one of the parts into a smooth ball. Roll the other 3 strips about 8 inches long, forming knobs as you go for the “bones.” Transfer the four pieces to another greased tray, cover loosely with greased plastic wrap, and set aside to rise for about 1 hour.

Repeat these steps to form the second bread with the other piece of dough that was set aside. Heat oven to 190C/375°F/regalo 5.

At the end of the rising period, carefully place the strips of dough forming the “bones” across the main part of the bread, place the round ball in the middle to form the “skull,” and press your finger in hard to form the eye sockets. Brush the surface of the dough well with the beaten yolks and bake at the top of the oven until well browned and springy – about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off the oven, open the door, and let the bread sit there for about 5 minutes more. Remove from the oven, brush with melted butter, and sprinkle well with sugar.

Jeannie Chesterton Halloween Chocolate and Almond Cake

This rich, moist chocolate cake is made with whole almonds and, like many of the cakes we bake at Buenvino, it uses no flour.
Serves 8-12

For the cake
115g (4oz) unsalted butter, plus more for the tin
Plain flour, for the tin
115g (4oz) best quality dark (70% cocoa solids) chocolate
2 tablespoons Spanish Brandy
50g (1 ¾ oz) blanched almonds
115g (4oz) granulated or caster sugar plus 1 tablespoon
3 free-range eggs, separated.

For the icing
115g (4oz) best quality dark (70% cocoa solids) chocolate
55g (2oz) icing sugar
2 tablespoons Spanish Brandy
115g (4oz) unsalted butter
Icing sugar, to dust

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/regalo 4.
Line the bases of two 20cm (8in) cake tins with greaseproof or silicone paper. Brush the base and side with butter and dust with a little flour, turning to coat the tin and tapping out the excess.

Melt the chocolate with the Brandy in a heatproof bowl over barely simmering water. Let cool. Grind the almonds in a food processor; they should be left a little gritty, not ground to a paste.
In a separate bowl, cream the butter and the 1155 (4oz) of sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one by one.
In a third bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, then add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and continue whisking until stiff peaks form. Add the melted, cooled chocolate to the butter mixture with half the ground almonds. Fold in the egg whites, followed by the remaining almonds; then the remaining egg white.
Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and make a dip in the centre of each cake. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The cake should be moist and slightly unset at the centre.
Allow to cool for a few minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack, remove the papers and allow to get cold.
For the icing, melt the chocolate, icing sugar and brandy in a heatproof bowl over simmering water, then whisk in the butter bit by bit. Remove from the heart and whisk occasionally until cool.

When the cake is cold, fill and ice it with the chocolate icing.
To decorate, make a stencil of a witch or a pumpkin, lay on top of the cake and dust with icing sugar.
Delicious with a chilled glass of pale cream sherry.

Ballymaloe Halloween Barmbrack

This little gem of a recipe is much easier to make at home than the bakers Halloween Barmbrack made with yeast.

Yields about 12 slices (eat the crusts, too!)

110g (4oz) sultanas
110g (4oz) raisins
110g (4oz) currants
50g (2oz) natural glace cherries, halved or quartered
300ml (10fl oz/1 1/4 cups) hot tea
1 organic egg, whisked
200g (7oz/scant 1 cup) soft brown sugar
225g (8oz/2 cups) self-raising flour
1 level teaspoon mixed spice
50g (2oz) homemade candied peel (see recipe)

450g (1lb) loaf tin – 12.5 x 20cm (5 x 8in) OR 3 small loaf tins 15 x 7.5cm (6 x 3in)

Put the dried fruit and cherries into a bowl. Cover with hot tea and leave to plump up overnight.

Next day, line the loaf tin with silicone paper.

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

Add the whisked egg, soft brown sugar, flour and mixed spice to the fruit and tea mixture. Stir well. Put the mixture into the lined loaf tin.
Cook in for about 1 1/2hours or until a skewer comes out clean.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Keeps very well in an airtight tin.

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Darina Allen: Recipes That Will Warm Up Any Autumn

IFEST, The first major celebration of Irish culture and food was held in Boston recently. It’s the brainchild of Rachael Kelly, the young entrepreneur who was behind the Taste of Dublin festival for many years. Her vision is to take IFEST to all the American cities where there is a strong Irish diaspora and not just to celebrate Ireland but to generate both business investment and tourism.

Rachael invited me to cook the Welcome Gala Dinner at the Seaport Hotel on the opening night with Boston chef Lydia Shire, we had lots of fun in the kitchen with a terrific supporting cast.
Brigitta Hedin Curtin had brought her Burren smoked wild Irish salmon all the way from Lisdoonvarna in Co Clare. We served that with pickled red onions and Arjard, and lots of freshly baked Ballymaloe brown bread and white soda bread slathered with Irish Kerrygold butter. It’s now widely available in the US and much sought after not only by the Irish Americans with a craving for a taste of home but by many top chefs simply for its quality and flavour.

Next there was pea and cilantro soup followed by delicious lamb with eggplant and rocket leaves, Lydia Shire’s son had cooked a beautiful fish plate of haddock and lobster in foaming Irish brown butter with cape gooseberries and sugar pumpkin soufflé.

My team at the Ballymaloe cookery school had make hundreds of homemade crackers to go with the Cashel Blue and Dubliner and Skellig cheeses and then came Lydia’s interpretation of Irish coffee meringue, a fluffy tender pavlova served with a Irish Jameson cream and a square of coffee jelly, a real ‘ta dah’ dessert that rounded off the meal in a delicious and memorable way.
After dinner, there was a live performance of Riverdance and Heartbeat of Home, brought to Boston by Moya Doherty, who has supported the IFEST concept from its inception. Paddy Moloney joined them on stage with a surprise appearance by astronaut Cady Coleman who had taken one of Paddy’s tin whistles into space in 2011. They played a magical duet together on the stage , it was a ‘goose prickle’ moment for sure.

The festival ran over three days with Jameson and Dingle gin well represented as well as numerous other Irish companies. I gave a couple of cookery demonstrations of Irish baking, barn brack, orange scones, Spotted dog and Auntie Florence’ s crumpets. You can’t imagine the response, after each demonstration the audience surrounded the podium and devoured every morsel, Kevin Dundon from Dunbrody House and Cathal Armstrong originally from Dublin also gave cookery demonstrations as well as many well-known Boston chefs including Barbara Lynch, Ana Sortun and renowned Sofra pastry chef Maura Kilpatrick.

As usual I whizzed around town to check out the food scene, I loved the food at Sofra, a Middle Eastern Bakery and café and picked up lots of goodies at unmissable Formaggio, a grocer and cheese shop. I also had a delicious dinner at Barbara Lynch’s Sportello, most memorable was a dish of pasta with rabbit and green olives. Row 34, close to the Seaport was also throbbing, we ate out on the street so we could try to hear each other. Sadly, super loud thumping music is a persistent trend in many US restaurants not sure if it helps to turn the tables faster but it’s totally exhausting if you actually want to try to catch up with your dinner companions unless you can lip read.
Loved the raw fish, briny sea urchin roes on a crostini, several different types of oysters including crispy fried oysters with pickled vegetables in lettuce cups and tuna sashimi with avocado and crispy onions.

I managed to take in two Farmers Markets on Saturday morning, one at Union Square and the other at Eccleston Place, close to Jamacia Square where there was a Fermentation Festival in full swing. Guess who I bumped into, Sandor Katz, the fermentation guru who has been one of the stars of the LitFest for the past two years. He thought he was hallucinating when he saw me….
The fermentation and pickling movement is huge and still growing.

I also loved a little shop called Farm and Fable owned by Abbey Ruettgers who too was astonished when I walked in to her premises. She had been to the cookery school for a week when she was 12, can’t imagine how she recognised me, I had brown hair and red glasses back then…

Finally on Sunday evening just before I dashed to the airport, I had a selection of small plates at Coppa, delicious food in a really cool neighbourhood restaurant, a must for your Boston list. Farm and Fable, Formaggio and Coppa are within a few steps of each other on Shawmut Avenue in Boston.


Chef Jamie Bissonette won a James Beard Award and has recently published a new book on Charcuterie, to make and serve at home.


Jamie Bissonnette’s Cauliflower Kimchi

Makes 1 Gallon (3.7l)
If you want to learn about fermenting meats, I recommend learning how to make kimchi, or fermented vegetables, first. This is good training because it shows patience! You can substitute any number of vegetables in this traditional Korean recipe, including cabbage, swede turnip, carrots, radishes or cucumbers.
1 head cauliflower
2 tbsp (30g) ginger
6 cloves garlic, minced
1.5oz (80g) coarse Chilean chilli flakes
3 red radishes, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and grated
3 sprigs scallion chopped rough
16 fl oz (450ml) fish sauce
2 ozs (60g) palm sugar
Juice of 2 limes
1 cup (225ml/8 fl oz) water
Chop the head of cauliflower to resemble large pieces of couscous. Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add 1 cup (237ml) water, or enough water so that mixture is ¾ covered with water. Put in an airtight container and let it sit in a cool, dry place for 1 week. Check it every day and shake it up if any fuzz appears on the surface. After 1 week it’s ready to eat – and it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 30 days.
If you’re not patient enough to wait a week, double the lime juice and let the kimchi sit overnight in the refrigerator. It will be ready to eat immediately.

From The New Charcuterie Cookbook by Jamie Bissonnette, published by Page Street Publishing.

Jamie Bissonnette’s Green Tomato Chutney

Makes 2 quarts (1.8l)
A lot of farmers come to us with green tomatoes, and you can only pickle or fry so many! I started making chutneys out of them, and this recipe is so popular we make it in 20-pound batches. The sour, tart flavour of the green tomatoes combined with the sugar yields sweet and sour flavoured chutney that can be served on anything from cheese to Foie Gras Torchon.

4 cloves garlic
1 piece mace
1 broken piece cassia bark
1lb (450g) green tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 cups (480g) sugar
¼ cup (60g) yellow mustard seeds
1 tbsp (15ml) molasses
2 tbsp (30ml) white wine vinegar
1 tbsp (15ml) mustard seed oil
Sachet in cheesecloth: 4 garlic cloves, 1 piece mace and 1 broken piece cassia bark.
Mix the tomatoes with the sugar and let sit overnight in the refrigerator, or at least 12 hours. Combine sugared tomatoes with all other ingredients in a pot. Cook over a medium heat for 45 minutes, adding ¼ cup (60ml) water if it’s too thick.
Alternatively, add 1 cup (240g) chopped Indian lime (right out of the jar) and use over steamed white rice.
The New Charcuterie Cookbook by Jamie Bissonnette, published by Page Street Publishing.

Strozzapreti with Rabbit and Green Olives

We loved this dish from Barbara Lynch, which is considered to be a classic at Sportello, one of her restaurants on Boston.

16fl oz (450ml) strained stock (recipe below)
1 cup chopped green olives – conversion pending from Teachers
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 whole rabbit, broken down (forearms, thighs, loins) and carcass reserved for stock
Fresh strozzapreti (recipe below)
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese

Rabbit Stock:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 rabbit carcass, chopped
1 small onion, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
8fl oz (225ml) white wine

10 oz (275g) semolina flour, divided
Pinch of salt
8fl oz (225ml) warm water

Place strained stock in a sauce pot, bring to a simmer and reduce over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Add chopped olives, rosemary and rabbit meat and cook for another 20 minutes. Pierce meat with a fork — meat should pull away from the bone easily. Remove meat, chop into smaller pieces and add back to sauce, continuing to reduce for 10 minutes. Toss with cooked strozzapreti and season with salt and pepper to taste and a bit of grated Parmesan to pull it all together.

Rabbit Stock:
In a medium-size braiser, heat oil over medium heat. Add rabbit bones, and brown. Remove bones and set aside, then add forearms, thighs and loins and sauté until browned. Remove and set aside. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic and sauté until softened and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Add wine, scraping up any browned bits then add the bones and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 hour. Reduce to a simmer and cook for an additional hour. Cool, strain, and reserve.

Place 7½ oz (210g) semolina with salt in a mixer with hook attachment (save the remaining 2½ oz (60g) for the sheet trays). Add water slowly, and mix until a nice smooth ball of dough is formed, about 7 minutes. Remove and rest under a damp cloth. Divide the dough into thirds, and shape one portion at a time, keeping the remaining dough covered. On a wooden board, form large pea-size pieces of dough. Using you index and middle fingers, roll a piece toward you, back and forth a few times until about 2 inches (5cm) long and thicker in the middle. If the board is too dry, wet it with a damp cloth (You will know if you need damp cloth if the pasta isn’t rolling easily!). After rolling, place shaped pasta on a sheet tray or flat plate sprinkled with semolina and freeze or refrigerate until you are ready to cook it.


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Darina Allen: Back To College Recipes

Back to college has produced lots of nightmare stories, as students scramble to find affordable accommodation in a scarce and challenging market.
So let’s hope you have already found a comfy spot, with a little kitchen and a table large enough to gather your pals around for some exotic and comforting little feasts and why not….

The old cliché of students living on microwave frozen pizzas, burgers and soggy takeaways is fast becoming outdated. Cool, young people are running, cycling, exercising and are pretty determined to keep their brain cells sharp by eating healthily.

Everyone has got the taste for spicy food; Indian, Middle Eastern, Mexican….many of the college kids I know are keen to cook and aren’t afraid to experiment with new ingredients.
They are acutely aware of the benefits of eating well but want to know how to save money but still eat healthily. They want recipes for yummy, tasty food that doesn’t take too long to rustle up when they arrive home, ravenous with hunger in the evening.

People with little money have to be even more crafty and inventive. Lesser known cuts of meat are always cheaper, and need gentle cooking to transform them to melting tenderness. And don’t forget to pick up a slab of streaky bacon, it’s a fantastic standby, brilliant to add to pasta, sauces, casseroles, stews, omelettes; or just to make a few crispy lardons to sprinkle over a salad.

Clever spicing can turn even a few simple root vegetables into a feast. Both meat and vegetables can be delicious bulked up with beans and lentils – grains too; pearl barley, couscous and quinoa add irresistible nourishment and volume.
Don’t forget to soak the grains well first in lots of fresh, cold water. They’ll double in volume and be infinitely more digestible.

Buy a few packets of both spice blends and whole spices. Pestle and mortars are ‘two a penny’ nowadays – they were on sale recently for €10 in one of the discount shops. I bought a perfect little pestle and mortar made from lava rock. It’ll only take a few seconds to grind a few cumin, coriander or cardamom seeds. I can’t think of anything that adds so much magic to food for so little money than a few freshly ground spices.
Look out for ras el hanout, a North African blend spice. Green Saffron have a variety of Indian blends and provide recipes with each packet.

Fresh herbs can easily be grown on a window sill in a variety of recycled cans and boxes; don’t forget to water them! Get together with your mates to bulk buy staples like rice, pasta, pulses and grains. With a stock of store cupboard standbys, spices and fresh herbs, you’re sorted. Pick up the phone and invite the pals around.

Isaac’s Frittata

Serves 1

Isaac makes individual frittatas that are light and fluffy, he says the secret is to add lots of milk and to whisk the eggs very well.

15g(1/2oz) butter.
2 eggs, free range, organic
55ml (2fl oz/1/4 cup) milk
45g (1 1/2ozs) grated Gruyere cheese
1-2 diced cooked potatoes, diced
30g(1oz) diced chorizo or cooked diced bacon or ham.
1 dessertspoon (2 American teaspoons) freshly chopped chives or parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper
a little butter for frying

20.5cm (8inch) heavy bottomed frying pan

Melt a knob of butter in the frying pan.

Break the eggs into a mixing bowl and season. (1 pinch of salt and 2 twists of pepper per egg is a good guide line if you are a little wary of tasting raw eggs.) Now add the milk and whisk thoroughly until the whites and yolk have completely blended together, add the grated cheese, diced potato and chorizo, chopped herbs and mix in gently.

When the butter is foaming pour all the mixture into the hot pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrap the cooked mixture from the bottom, filling its space with liquid. Do this just 5 or 6 times then allow the mixture to cook on a high flame for a further minute. Take the pan off the heat and place under a hot grill, continue cooking until the mixture has fluffed up nicely and is beginning to turn golden brown on top.
Using a metal pallet knife loosen the edges and slide onto a plate. Serve on its own with a green salad or with a little drizzle of basil pesto (see recipe).

Once you have the basic mixture and cooking technique right there are lots of lovely variations on the theme.

Irish Breakfast Frittata

Add to the basic egg mixture just before cooking.

25g (1oz) of sliced mushrooms. Fried in a little butter salt and pepper, and 2 streaky rashers cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) pieces and fried until crispy.

Frittata Ranchero

Add to the basic egg mixture just before cooking.

25g (1oz) chopped sweated onion
1 small tomato cut into 5mm (1/4 inch) dice
1 teaspoon chopped chilli or more to taste
1 dessertspoon (2 American teaspoons) chopped coriander (instead of parsley or chives)

Penny’s Sweet Potato and Rice or Quinoa Salad

Sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene, a major antioxidant, which helps safeguard immune health. They aid digestion, reduce inflammation in ulcers and aid circulation.

Other sweet vegetables and roast peppers could also be used. Chickpeas or beans would also be a gorgeous addition.

Serves 6-8

1 big sweet potato
4 onions
3 tablespoons (3 American tablespoons + 3 teaspoons) extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6-8ozs (175-225g) cooked brown basmati rice or quinoa

2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) pumpkin seeds (toasted)
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) sunflower seeds (toasted)
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) sesame seeds (toasted)

juice and zest of 2 limes
same volume of extra virgin olive oil (or slightly less)
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) soy sauce
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 chilli, finely chopped (optional)
5 spring onions or lots of chives chopped finely
lots of chopped basil or coriander
1 teaspoon organic sugar

Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/Gas Mark 8

Peel the sweet potato and onion, cut into 3/4 inch (1.5cm) cubes. Mix the spices with the oil, toss the vegetables in the oil and spread out on a baking tray. Roast in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden and slightly caramelised.

Next make the vinaigrette.
Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl.

To Serve
Put the cooled cooked rice or quinoa if using, roast vegetables and toasted seeds in a bowl. Drizzle with the vinaigrette, toss well. Taste and correct the seasoning.

Stirabout Bread

This is a more modern version of Soda Bread, couldn’t be simpler, just mix and pour into a well-greased tin. This bread keeps very well for several days and is also great toasted.

Makes 1 loaf or 3 small loaves

400g (14ozs/2 1/2 cups) wholemeal flour or a wholemeal flour of your choice
75g (3ozs/3/4 cup) white flour, preferably unbleached
1 teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon (1/2 American teaspoon) bread soda, sieved (Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda)
1 egg,
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon)vegetable oil,
1 teaspoon honey or treacle
425ml (15fl ozs/scant 2 cups) buttermilk or sourmilk approx. (put all the milk in)

Sunflower or sesame seeds optional

Loaf tin 23×12.5x5cm (9x5x2in)

Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6.

Put all the dry ingredients including the sieved bread soda into a large bowl, mix well. Whisk the egg, add the oil and honey most of the buttermilk. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in all the liquid, mix well and add more buttermilk if necessary. The mixture should be soft and slightly sloppy, pour into an oiled tin or tins. Sprinkle some sunflower or sesame seeds on the top. Bake for 60 minutes approx, or until the bread is nice and crusty and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

Health Bread

Add 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of sunflower seeds, 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of pumpkin seeds, 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of kibbled wheat to the dry ingredients. Keep a mixture to scatter over the top.

Meatballs with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Great with a teaspoon of ras el hanout or a mixture of cumin and coriander. Ask a few pals around, or fry off half as burgers and tuck them into a bun with lots of salad, sliced tomatoes, and cheese.

Serves 6

2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
900g (2lbs) freshly minced beef (80% lean) or 700g (1 1/2lbs) beef/225g (8oz) pork
50g (2oz) soft breadcrumbs
50ml (2fl oz/1/4 cup) milk
2-4 tablespoons (2 1/2 – 5 American tablespoons) chopped fresh herbs, such as marjoram, or a mixture of parsley, chives and thyme leaves
1 organic egg, beaten
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Tomato Sauce
3 tablespoons (4 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
225g (8oz) onion, peeled and sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
900g (2lbs) ripe, peeled and chopped tomatoes or 2 x 400g (14ozs) tins chopped tomatoes
good pinch of crushed chilli flakes (optional)
salt, freshly ground black pepper and sugar

To serve
3 tablespoons (4 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
150g (5ozs) Mozzarella and Parmesan, grated

450g (1lb) spaghetti

Rocket leaves (optional)

parsley leaves

First make the meatballs, heat the olive oil in a heavy, stainless-steel saucepan over a gentle heat and add the chopped onions and garlic. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 8-10 minutes until soft and slightly golden. Allow to cool.

Soak all the bread crumbs in milk.

Put the freshly minced beef into a bowl and breadcrumbs in a bowl. add the cold sweated onion and garlic, add the herbs (and chilli flakes if using) and the beaten egg. Season the mixture to taste. Fry a tiny bit to check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Divide the mixture into about 24 round meatballs. Cover and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a casserole or a stainless-steel saucepan. Add the sliced onion and crushed garlic, toss until coated, cover and sweat over a gentle heat until soft. Add the peeled and chopped tomatoes and chilli flakes, mix and season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of sugar (tinned tomatoes take more sweetening). Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, uncover and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes or until thick and unctuous.

Heat a frying pan over a medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Cook the meatballs for 8-10 minutes turning from time to time. When they are cooked, transfer to an ovenproof serving dish. Add to the hot tomato sauce, turn gently to cover. Pop into a preheated oven at 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
Sprinkle the grated cheese on top or place under a preheated grill to let the cheese melt. Serve immediately with cooked spaghetti, crusty bread and or just a green salad.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a pan of boiling water. Drain and turn into a hot serving dish. Spoon the meatballs and tomato sauce over the top, sprinkle with grated Mozzarella and Parmesan. Sprinkle with lots of flat parsley leaves.

Meatball Dogs

Split hot dogs rolls lengthwise down the centre. Insert 3 small meat balls smothered with tomato sauce into each. Top with a bit of rocket or flat parsley. Serve hot.


Meatball Sliders

Split 3 sliders in half, chargrill, drizzle with olive oil. Top with a meat ball and secure the lid with a bamboo cocktail stick. Eat as soon as possible and serve 3 per person as a starter.


Apple Fritters

Funny how one sometimes forgets a recipe; we hadn’t had these for ages, but I remembered them recently and they taste just as good as ever. As children we particularly loved fritters because they used to fry into funny shapes, which caused great hilarity. These can also be shallow-fried in a pan. You can add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the sugar to toss the apples in for extra flavour. So easy to make even in a tiny kitchen and the batter works for lots of other fruit even bananas.
Serves 6–8

110g (4oz) plain white flour
pinch of salt
1 organic egg
150ml (5fl oz) milk
good-quality vegetable oil, for frying
450g (1lb) cooking apples (about 4), Bramley’s Seedling or Grenadier
225g (4oz) caster sugar

Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and drop in the egg. Use a whisk to bring in the flour gradually from the edges, slowly adding in the milk at the same time. Leave the batter in a cool place for about 1 hour.
Heat the oil in a deep-fryer to 180°C (350°F). Peel and core the apples. Cut into rings, no thicker than 1cm (1⁄4in). Dip the rings into the batter and lift out with a skewer, allowing the surplus batter to drain off, then drop into hot fat, a few at a time. Fry until golden brown, drain well on kitchen paper. Toss each fritter in caster sugar. Serve immediately on hot plates with softly whipped cream.


Salacious salads-
Jason Carroll has quite a pedigree; he spent a stint in several of London’s most prestigious kitchens with Pierre Kaufmann, Anton Mosimann and Tom Aiken, then on to Asia.
Is it any wonder that his salads are so multi ethnic and morish.
You’ll find him at Wilton Farmers Market on Tuesdays and in Midleton on Saturday mornings.
He’ll have an irresistible array of salads and maybe chowder as well. Don’t miss the Kokoda, a Fijian ceviche, or you might want to try the potato ,chorizo ,red onion and mint or the freekah salad with apricot, date, spring onion, preserved lemon and feta or fresh pineapple, coconut, chilli and mint or…….. tempted?

Good Food Ireland Touring Map –

Good Food Ireland has just completed their up to the minute edition
Touring Map, in partnership with Hertz and Waterford Crystal.
This year, it is larger in size with more detail for touring visitors and indeed for ourselves here at home to navigate our way and find the very best artisan food producers, food shops, restaurants, cafes, cooking classes…..
Pick up your copy at any Hertz rental car location, Good Food Ireland
promotions and Tourism Ireland offices.

Date for your diary
Pizza Masterclass with Philip Dennhardt at Ballymaloe Cookery School – this half day course will take you through all the basics (choosing ingredients, making dough, getting the best results from your oven and so forth) before explaining how to produce both traditional and contemporary pizzas……
Friday 17th October – 2 -5pm. Booking essential.

Darina Allen: Cullen Skink

The Scots have spoken loud and clear, they will remain in the union but nothing will ever be quite the same again. They have always been intensely patriotic, enormously proud of their heritage, their music, and their tartans even their food which doesn’t necessarily have a sterling reputation in gastronomic quarters. Haggis and neeps doesn’t do it for many people outside Scotland but a good haggis is a mighty dish to warm the cockles of your heart on a cold autumn or winter day.

Here at the Cookery School, I asked both teachers and students to name 8 or 9 Scottish dishes other than haggis. There was a bit of head scratching, then Dundee cake came up, Scotch pancakes, Cullen Skink, cranachan, tatties, Scotch woodcock, Scotch broth, cock-a-leekie, bridies, Scotch eggs, shortbread, bannocks, porridge, marmalade….an impressive ‘off the cuff’ list. Then I went upstairs to the Ballymaloe Cookery School library to root around. I was surprised by how many books on Scottish food I had amassed over the years. Our own Theodora Fitzgibbon’s book ‘A Taste of Scotland: Scottish Traditional Food’ is a gem as is Catherine Browns Scottish Regional Recipes. Jane Grigson’s section on Scotland in her British Cookery is as excellent as you would expect from this much loved and respected cookery writer.

Mark Hix’s book on British Regional Food also has many Scottish gems. Mark points out that “what characterizes most Scottish food is the canny frugality of a northern European peasant tradition”.

Scottish produce tends to be exceptionally delicious, the Highlands are rich with game – grouse, partridge, capercaille, snipe, pheasant, deer……the fast flowing rivers (burns) are still teeming with salmon and trout. Then there are the Highland cattle, Scottish Aberdeen Angus and the blackface lamb.

The soft fruit too benefits from slower ripening in a cooler climate with long summer evenings. Scottish varieties of raspberries, tayberries, boysenberries and loganberries are justly famous.
We haven’t even mentioned the whiskey, the cheeses and the shellfish, langoustine, razor clams and lobsters – much of which is exported.
Even writing this article makes me want to head for the Highlands. Meanwhile, I’ll make do with cooking up a wee taste of Scotland here in Shanagarry.


Scotch Woodcock

Scotch woodcock was once a popular savoury – it makes a delicious easy snack.
Serves 6

50 g(1½ oz) tin of anchovies, drained or 50 g (1½ oz) salted anchovies, soaked then boned
175 g (6 oz) butter
6 slices of bread, crusts removed
4 large egg yolks
300 ml (10 fl oz) whipping or double cream
Salt, pepper, cayenne
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Mash the anchovies with two-thirds of the butter. Toast the bread, spread on the anchovy butter and keep it warm. Melt the remaining butter in a small heavy pan, beat in the egg yolks – off the heat – and the cream. Season, then replace on a low to medium heat and stir until you have a thick sauce. Do not allow the mixture to come near boiling point or it will curdle. Pour over the toast, sprinkle with a pinch or two of parsley and serve.

19/9/2014 (CS) (17444)
Taken from The Observer Guide to British Cookery Jane Grigson


Scotch Shortbread

The ground rice gives a particularly appealing texture to this shortbread.

Makes 24-32 depending on size

12 ozs (350g/3 cups) plain white flour
10 ozs (285g/21/2 sticks) butter
4 ozs (110g/1/2 cup) castor sugar
3 ozs (75g/scant 1/2 cup) ground rice
good pinch of salt
good pinch of baking powder

vanilla or castor sugar for sprinkling

Swiss roll tin 10 x 15 ins (25.5 x 38cm)

Sieve the dry ingredients into a bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and rub in until the whole mixture comes together. (alternatively whizz everything together in the food processor) Spread evenly into the tin, roll flat.

Bake for 1-1 hours in a low oven, 140-150°C/275-300°F/regulo 1-2 or bake for 20-30 minutes in a moderate oven 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. It should be pale golden but fully cooked through. Cut into squares or fingers while still hot. Sprinkle with castor or vanilla sugar and allow to cool. Store in an airtight tin.

20/03/2009 (SH) (5664)


In Ireland all cultures that have cabbage and potatoes put them together in some form. In Ireland we have Colcannon in England Bubble and Squeak but the Scottish version is called Rumbledethumps.

Serves 4

1 lb (450 g) freshly mashed potatoes
½ lb (225 g) kale or spring cabbage, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) spring onion
¼ pint (150 ml/generous ½ cup) cream

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the cabbage or kale in a little boiling salted water, drain well.
Put the cream into a large pot with the spring onion, bring slowly to the boil, add the potatoes and freshly cooked cabbage. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon for 1-2 minutes. Taste, you could add a lump of butter if you like, the Scots do!

25/8/1997 (CF)

Cullen Skink

Cullen is on the southern shore of the Moray Firth – harbour, white sands, bright fisherman’s cottages, town high on the cliffs – and skink in this instance means soup or broth. Skink is more commonly used as a name for skin of beef, the basic ingredient of beef broth, and so has loosely come to mean soup. On the east coast, smoked haddock is the basic ingredient, and potatoes are used to thicken the cooking liquor – less liquid can be added to make a stew rather than a soup.

Serves 8

1 medium onion, sliced
2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) butter
1kg (2 1/4lb) smoked haddock, cut into 3 or 4 large pieces
225g (8oz) cooked and sieved potato
900ml (1 1/2 pints/3 3/4 cups) milk
150ml (5fl oz/generous 1/2 cup) cream
salt, freshly ground black pepper, chives

Soften the onion in butter in a large saucepan. As it softens and turns yellow, put in the fish. Pour in 600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) of water and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Remove the fish, discard the skin and bone, and flake the flesh. Stir the potato into the cooking liquor, making a smooth texture, and add the milk. Put in the fish, reheat and taste for seasoning. Add the cream and chives just before serving.

07/07/2014 (SH) (17198)

Recipe Taken from ‘The Observer Guide to British Cookery’ by Jane Grigson


Crannachan or cream-crowdie has become very much the national pudding of Scotland.

The basic recipe for 4 is simple enough.

60 g (2 oz) medium or coarse oatmeal, toasted lightly.
300 ml (10 fl oz) cream
A little honey or sugar to sweeten
4-5 tablespoons malt whiskey
125 g (4 oz) raspberries

Toast lightly the oatmeal. Whip the cream until it is thick and light with a little honey or sugar to sweeten. Finally mix in 4 or 5 tablespoons of malt whiskey and gently fold in the raspberries.

19/9/2014 (CS) (17445)

Taken from The Observer Guide to British Cookery by Jane Grigson

Scotch Pancakes

Makes 16-18

225 g (8 ozs) self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
30 g (1 oz) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
2 eggs, beaten
250-275 ml (9-10 fl oz) milk
Butter for greasing and to serve
Fruit compote, cream or fresh berries, to serve (optional)

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl, then add the sugar. Stir in the syrup, eggs and enough milk to form a thick smooth batter that just drops off the spoon. Heat a griddle pan, or non stick frying pan and rub it with a little butter. Drop in spoonfuls of the mixture and cook for 3 minutes until bubbles rise, then turn and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Put them on some kitchen paper, while you cook the rest. Serve warm or cold, with just butter, a fruit compote and cream, just butter or some fresh berries.

19/9/2014 (CS) (17446)

Taken from British Regional Food by Mark Hix

JR’s Dundee Cake

Our pastry chef at Ballymaloe House is famous for his Dundee cake, he never travels with out a chunk in his bag so fellow train or plane passengers strike lucky as well!
Makes 1 x 18cm (7 inch) round cake or 900g (2lb) loaf

225g (8oz/2 cups) softened butter
225g (8oz/1 cup) caster sugar
grated rind of 1 large orange
4 eggs
225g (8oz/2 cups) plain flour, sifted
50g (2oz) ground almonds
25g (1oz) mixed candied peel
100g (4oz) currants
100g (4oz) sultanas
100g (4oz) raisins
50g (2oz) glacé cherries, quartered
40-50 split blanched and peeled almonds
Preheat oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2 and line an 18cm (7 inch) round tin or a 900g (2lb) loaf tin.

Cream butter and sugar until smooth and light. Beat the eggs. Add in three stages alternating with a tablespoon of the flour between each addition. Beat thoroughly. Mix ground almonds, dried fruit and orange rind before folding into the mixture. Fold in the remaining flour carefully. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and arrange the split almonds over the entire top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 2 1/2 – 3 hours until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool.

14/11/2013 (SH) (16640) (JR Ryall, Ballymaloe House)
Hot Tips

Salmon Watch Ireland are holding a conference in Salthill Hotel, Galway they will focus on measures that need to be taken in the freshwater environment to make our rivers more effective in the production of more and stronger smolts.
Saturday 11th October 2.30pm – 5.30pm – Contact:
Date for your diary
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland are running a Small Food Business Start-Up Seminar in Silver Springs Moran Hotel, Tivoli, Cork . They will explain all the requirements needed to get your business off the ground and offer advice on how to comply with the relevant food safety legislation. – Thursday 9th October – 8am – 12.45pm
For further information – – 01 8171310

Get Blogging
Thinking of starting a blog but not sure where to start. Why not join Get Blogging course with Lucy Pearce on Saturday 11th October from 9.30am – 1pm at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. This fast paced course will have you fired up and ready to go in just three hours. What you’ll learn: the basics of blog design, how to customise basic blogging templates, the most useful gadgets and gizmos to use, the secrets behind writing popular posts, how to spread the word about your blog, how to find and keep readers, where to find technical support, the ways that you can make money from your blog.
Lucy teaches blogging in the UK and Ireland and was a key note speaker at the 2013 Ballymaloe Litfest on Food Writing for the Digital Generation.
Booking Essential on 021 4646785 or


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