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The old cliché of students living on microwave frozen pizzas, burgers and soggy takeaways is fast becoming outdated.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

Back to School Lunches

Back to school, a busy and expensive time for so many families around the country and now there’s the challenge of school lunches. This week I’ll concentrate on packed lunches and in future columns I’ll have suggestions for college students. Meanwhile invest in a copy book or folder and gradually compile a collection of your kids favourite comforting recipes so they can leave home armed with a useful ‘survival kit’.

But back to school lunches, the bane of so many parents lives, yet phenomenally important not only to nourish our kids physically but to feed their brains and to help with concentration. Most school lunches seem to be bread based so if we agree with the fundamental fact that our food should be our medicine rather than doing us damage then we need to ditch the squishy sliced pan entirely out of our shopping basket. One of the very best things nowadays that one can do for our families is to make a daily loaf of bread. There are masses of easy ‘stir and pour’ recipes to make a grand little loaf that can be sliced easily and topped with many good things.  I know sandwiches are a relatively easy option but try to keep bread to the minimum. I did a quick whizz around my grandchildren to get an idea of what they like to find in their lunch boxes.

A flask of hot soup in chilly weather or a chilled smoothie in warm weather is definitely a favourite. One grandchild, loves to have a gluten free wrap with lots of salad leaves and some scraps of chicken, bacon or smoked fish with a creamy yoghurt dressing and maybe some slices of ripe tomato.  Chicken and cranberry sauce is also a favourite.  Several of our grandchildren love brown meat so roast drum sticks or chicken wings are easy to munch and are great with a little garlic mayo or Ballymaloe Country relish as a dip.  Raw batons of fresh cucumber or carrot (not those little pre-washed packs) with a little tub of hummus also got the thumbs up. Pickled carrot and pickled cucumber have also become favourites. Home-made potato crisps as an occasional treat score high on the ‘yum-yum’ scale.

Water, apple juice or fruit kefirs seem to be the drinks of choice, a piece of quiche or frittata also goes down well and some fruit is obligatory – banana, apple, peach, nectarines, a few cherries ….. whatever is in season. Dried fruit, peaches, figs, dates, prunes, cranberries or even a raisin, nut mixture, that’s if you school isn’t a nut free zone which many now are. A little tub of salad, lentils, cous cous, quinoa, chick peas, pearl barley or freekah, was surprisingly popular with dried cranberries, fresh herbs and maybe some diced cheese added. Understandably variety is important – cheese croquettes or cheddar chunks with whole cherry tomatoes, another favourite combo and half an avocado with a little sea salt to scatter over the top is an easy peasy option full of nourishment that will provide lots of energy.

Our grandchildren love Ballycotton shrimps in the shell with homemade mayo to dip but not having anything that your friends consider weird in your lunch box is also a consideration!

Keep the sweet things to a once or twice a week treat if at all possible. Here’s a recipes for Penny’s Coconut and Chocolate Bars      and lots of other simple wholesome suggestions.


  A little White Soda Bread Loaf


You can make it in the round traditional way or like this in a loaf tin which is more convenient for slicing or sandwiches


1 lb (450g/4 cups) white flour, preferably unbleached

1 level teaspoon/1/2 American teaspoon salt

1 level teaspoon/1/2 American teaspoon breadsoda

sour milk or buttermilk to mix – 15 fl ozs (425 ml) approx

oatmeal, sesame seeds or kibbled wheat (optional)


First fully preheat your oven to 230ºC/450ºF/regulo 8.


Sieve the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre.  Pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, but not too wet. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a well floured worked surface.  Scoop it into the oiled tin, sprinkle with oatmeal and sesame or kibbled wheat seeds if you enjoy them. Place in the hot oven immediately turning down the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/regulo 6 for 45 minutes. Remove from the tin and return the bread to the oven for a further 5-10 minutes or until fully cooked.  If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: if it is cooked it will sound hollow.


Pickled Carrots

Raw carrots are of course brilliant but for a change – these carrots are deliciously tangy and crunchy. We also pickle fennel and beets so good – don’t automatically assume your kids won’t like these, remember they learn their eating habits and prejudices from our reaction!


Makes 1 quart


Pickled Carrots

2lbs (900g) baby carrots, well-scrubbed, peeled and trimmed or long batons.


Pickling Solution

16fl ozs (450ml/2 cup) hot water

8fl ozs (225ml/1 cup) rice vinegar

9 tablespoons (11 American tablespoons) sugar

4 1/2 teaspoons dairy salt


First make the pickling solution. Put all the ingredients into a bowl. Stir until the sugar and salt is dissolved.  To pickle vegetables: choose quart size pickling jars, with sealable lids, wash, dry and sterilize. Pack the whole carrots or batons into the jar tightly. Cover with the brine. Refrigerate and mature for 2-3 days before eating. They will keep for about a month.



Homemade Potato Crisps


Making crisps at home is definitely worthwhile – a few potatoes produce

a ton of crisps and nothing you buy in any shop will be even half as delicious. A mandolin is well worth buying for making crisps – but mind your fingers!  Just in case of any misunderstanding these are very nutritious as well as delicious and can also be used with a dip.



Serves 4


450g (1lb) large, even-sized potatoes

extra virgin olive oil or beef dripping for deep-fat frying



Wash and peel the potatoes. For even-sized crisps, trim each potato with a swivel-top peeler until smooth. Slice them very finely, preferably with a mandolin. Soak in cold water to remove the excess starch (this will also prevent them from discolouring or sticking together). Drain off the water and dry well.


In a deep-fat fryer, heat the oil or dripping to 180ºC/350ºF. Drop in the dry potato slices a few at a time and fry until golden and completely crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle lightly with salt. Repeat until they are all cooked.




Hummus has become a new basic – inexpensive to make and bursting with goodness. If you are pressed for time, it’s best to start with tinned dried chickpeas and cook them yourself. I often cook 2 or 3 times what I need ‘cos they freeze perfectly and can be used for salad or soups as well as a dip.


Serves 4-8 (depending on how it is served)


170g (6oz) chickpeas, cooked, save the cooking liquid or 1 x 14 oz can

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




pitta bread or any crusty white bread


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.

Willow’s Cous Cous Salad



Willow, loves to discover little cubes of diced cucumber, tomato and feta as well as freshly chopped herbs in her cous cous salad. The basic cooked cous cous can be kept in a sealed box in the fridge for several days.


Serves 8


12 ozs (340g) couscous

16 fl ozs (450ml/2 cups) homemade chicken stock or water

2 ozs (50g) dried apricots cut into 5mm (1/4 inch) dice (optional)

2 ozs (50g) pistachio nuts (or toasted almonds) halved, optional



salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar



Put the couscous, apricots and pistachio nuts into a Pyrex bowl.  Pour over the boiling water or stock, cover with clingfilm and allow to soak for 15 minutes. Stir with a fork and season with salt and freshly ground pepper and add some olive oil.


Additions & Variations

Instead of apricots and pistachio nuts stir in 2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) of freshly chopped fresh herbs just before serving, eg. mint or coriander, parsley and chives, dried cherries, cranberries, raisins….


A little grated orange rind or lemon rind and freshly squeezed juice is also delicious.



Penny’s Coconut and Chocolate Health Bars


Makes 12 – 16 bars


8 ozs  (250g) dessicated coconut

1 heaped tablespoon tahini (optional)

5 ozs (150g) dried dates

2 ozs  (50g) butter or coconut oil

1 teaspoon good vanilla extract

2 rounded tablespoon cocoa powder

2 large free-range eggs

3 tablespoon water


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

8 inch (20.5cm) square tin, lined with parchment paper

Put all the ingredients into a food processor and whizz until the mixture comes together. Put into the tin and smooth the top. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Leave to cool slightly and then cut into bars.


Hot Tips

Both the Midleton Food & Drink Festival and the Waterford Harvest Festival are on Saturday 13th September.

In Midleton there will be over 60 stalls this year in the open air food and drink market. Enjoy the carnival atmosphere with street performance artists, craft exhibitions, whiskey and wine tastings and a full programme of food and cookery demonstrations.

Visit the Waterford Harvest Festival at to see the incredible line up of events. Rory O’ Connell and I are both doing a cookery dem on the Saturday at Grow HQ in the Blackfriars Ruins in Waterford City Centre.

Game -the game season will open again in September, Premier Game Limited in Cahir, Co Tipperary have a pretty amazing selection of game from September to February. Tel: 052 67501/086 838 4700.

Wild Food – this is a fantastic year for damsons and sloes, go foraging in the countryside, then have fun making damson or sloe gin, jam, jellies or tarts. Check out Forgotten Skills of Cooking for lots of recipes.

MAD Food Symposium


I’m just back from the MAD Food Symposium in Copenhagen, one of the craziest and most influential food events on the planet. It’s held in a circus tent in a wild flower meadow in Refshaleoum close to the centre of Copenhagen.

The audience are a cosmopolitan mix, varying from chefs to scientists, social activists to food writers and journalists, farmers and food producers to foragers, brewers and baristas.The event was founded by Rene Redzepi from Noma and co-curated this year by Alex Atala of D.O.M. in San Poalo in Brazil.

The first MAD was held in 2011, the theme was VEGETATION , in 2012 the theme was APPETITE.  In 2013, it was GUTS which could be interpreted in a variety of ways, Guts as intestines, guts as in courage – speakers were invited to approach the subject from every angle, to explore it in all its forms and they did.

2013 was my first MAD experience and I was blown away. This year, we were invited as speakers to tell the story of Myrtle Allen, now in her 90th year, the farmer’s wife who in the early 1960s unwittingly started a food revolution in Ireland by opening a restaurant in her rambling old house deep in the countryside in East Cork. She wrote the menu every day depending on what was fresh and in season on the farm and in the gardens and local area which of course was unheard of then but for many is now the norm.

This year’s theme was another complex question, What’s Cooking? Gosh, how cooking and the perception of cooking have changed in my lifetime from the everyday norm of my Mum cheerfully cooking three meals a day from scratch at home to a fast food, ready meal culture where many of us unwittingly handed the power over our food choices to multi-national food companies who can scarcely be expected to have our best interests at heart.

Restaurant food too has changed and evolved from haute cuisine to nouvelle cuisine to molecular gastronomy and more recently swung back again to a much greater appreciation of vegetables, wild plants and foraged foods.

In many ways it’s a fantastic time to be a cook. The public in general are taking a much greater interest in what was traditionally a blue collar trade. Food festivals, carnivals, conferences are so numerous that one is forced to choose between various options almost every weekend.

Yet ironically, the more attention that’s focused on the industry from tv, film, newspapers, magazines and the internet, the fewer people are cooking and the less obvious it becomes what it means ‘to cook’.

For some people cooking is a path to fame and fortune but the last decade has given rise to a great many innovations that deep down we know cooking is certainly not.

There were a great many inspirational and thought provoking speakers at MAD. The symposium opened to the throbbing music of a Scandinavian rock band, then a dramatic hush as Japanese chef and soba noodle master Tatsuru Rai and his wife Midori took the stage. The owner of Sobatai in Hokkaido silently mixed, kneaded and cooked the buckwheat noodles from scratch. The audience was transfixed for the entire wordless, 15 minute demonstration. Midori served the bowls of prepared noodles to the front row with a gentle little bow. A beautiful humbling experience, a reminder of the artistry, craftsmanship and tradition of good cooking.


Three star Michelin chefs Alain Sendereno and Pierre Koffmann spoke and demonstrated their craft but for me the stand out talk came from guerilla gardener Ron Finley who spoke in punch lines about his experience transforming a food desert into veggie gardens in LA South Central. An area where you could buy any amount of drugs and booze but you couldn’t find a bite of fresh food for love nor money if your life depended on it and guess what, it certainly does!


He decided to take action – he and some of his gangland friends cleared all the old sofas, syringes and junk from a patch of ground outside his house and decided to plant some food. He was slapped with an arrest warrant for his efforts and was threatened with jail. Suddenly it was cool for the young gangsters to grow their own food – it was illegal after all!


So to cut a long and colourful story short, Ron is the hero who got the Land Use Laws changed and now all over America, people are transforming disused lots into vegetable gardens.


According to Ron his inspiration was the phenomenal rise in obesity, diabetes…

“the future is not a revolution, it’s an evolution back to a time when we grew our own food and cooked our own meals, We are what we eat,  we don’t need ‘meds’ we need food gardens. This s–t is being done to us by fast food companies,  more people are being killed by Drive-ins than Drive- by’s!”

Myrtle Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookbook was first published in 1977 . The revised edition was re published  by Gill and Macmillan, a beautiful hard back edition to celebrate Myrtle’s 90th year and 50 years of the restaurant at Ballymaloe House. Here are a few of my favourite recipes for you to recreate at home.




The effect of climate on food fascinates me. It isn’t just whether you have a

gooseberry bush or a banana tree in the back garden: it is the moisture, the

soil, herbs, winds and indigenous bacteria, which affect not only the kind but

also the quality of food in different places.


I loathed yoghurt until I bought a plastic bagful from a nomad in the

mountains north-west of Teheran. This was just something different again.

All the learned men and expensive laboratories of north-west Europe cannot

reproduce this type of yoghurt. No wonder. What it takes is a wild and tough

man, backed by a herd of goats, a tribe of relations, a few earthenware jars

and a vast area of barren mountainside, alternately roasting and freezing.


The Iranians know what they have got. They eat and drink it in every

conceivable way. The best I could do when I got home was to take a Persian

idea and adapt it to Irish materials.


The new concoction is not Persian and certainly not Irish. It is good in its

own right for starting a gentle summer dinner. Use within 24 hours.



225g (8oz) tomatoes,

1 clove garlic,

1 level teaspoon salt,

350ml (12fl oz, 1½ cups) natural yoghurt,

1 teaspoon finely chopped mint.

Scald and peel the tomatoes. Peel the garlic and mash it to a paste with the salt. Purée the tomatoes, garlic and salt together in a blender. Sieve out the pips if you wish. Add the yoghurt. Stir in the mint.

Serve chilled.







1 fresh plaice,

salt and pepper,

15–30g (½–1oz, 1–2 tablespoons) butter,

1 teaspoon mixed

finely chopped parsley, chives, fennel, thyme leaves


Wash the fish and clean the slit thoroughly. With a very sharp knife, cut through the skin, right round the fish, 1cm (½in) from the edge. Be careful to cut right through and to join the side cuts at the tail or you will be in trouble later on. Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper and lay it in 5mm (¼in) water in a shallow baking tin. Bake in a moderately hot oven, 200°C/400°F/gas 6, for 20–30 minutes according to the size of the fish. The water should have just evaporated as the fish is cooked. Meanwhile, melt the butter and stir in the herbs. Just before serving, pull off the skin (it will tear badly if not properly cut) and spoon over the butter.



The traditional salad was and still is standard fare for Sunday evening suppers. It accompanied cold meat, probably left over from the midday joint. No dressing goes better with it than Lydia Strangman’s, sister of my husband’s elderly farming partner, an unmarried Quaker lady of strict principles, who spent her life painting and making a beautiful garden.


Arrange lettuce leaves like a rose in a deep bowl – biggest leaves on the outside, small leaves in the centre. Scatter some or all of the following between the leaves: quartered hard-boiled eggs, quartered tomatoes, slices of cooked beetroot, slices of cucumber, cress, watercress, mustard leaves. Serve with Lydia’s cream dressing (page 33).


Oil was not considered as a food in the average Irish household during the first half of the last century. There was always a small glass bottle of rancid olive oil in our house, but it was kept in the medicine cupboard and used for sunburn. Cream dressings were served with salads.

2 eggs,

1 tablespoon soft brown sugar,

1 level teaspoon dry mustard,

pinch of salt,

60–120ml (2–4fl oz, ¼–½ cup) cream,

1 tablespoon brown malt vinegar


Hard boil the eggs. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Gently slide in the eggs and boil for 10 minutes (12 if they are very fresh). Strain off the hot water and cover with cold water. Peel when cold.

Cut the eggs in half and sieve the yolks into a bowl. Add the sugar, the mustard and a pinch of salt. Blend the cream and the vinegar. Chop the egg whites and add some to the sauce. Keep the rest to scatter over the salad. Cover the dressing until needed.



A fish pâté or potted fish makes a wonderfully easy lunch or supper dish.

Packed into tiny individual pots, a selection of any three makes a stunning

dinner party starter. They are not suitable for picnics unless packed in a chilled

container, as the butter goes soft.


½ clove garlic,

salt and pepper,

60–85g (2–3oz, 4–6 tablespoons) butter,

1 teaspoon thyme leaves,

110g (4oz) shelled shrimps or diced lobster meat,

1–2 teaspoons lemon juice

Crush the garlic to a paste with a little salt. Bring the butter to the boil with the thyme leaves and garlic. Add the shrimps or lobster and simmer together for 3–5 minutes. Season carefully with salt and pepper and 1 or 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Pack into pots and run more melted butter over the top.






2 egg whites, 110g (4oz, ½ cup) caster sugar,

12 chopped walnuts or brazil nuts

For the filling:

250ml (8fl oz, 1 cup) unsweetened whipped cream,

1–2 ripe dessert

pears, peeled and sliced


Make as for the meringue gâteau on page 212, folding in the nuts before dividing the mixture between the two circles. To assemble, pipe a layer of whipped cream onto one meringue disc. Carefully arrange slices of pear on top and cover with the second meringue disc.




2 egg whites, 110g (4oz, ½ cup) caster sugar

Beat the egg whites until stiff but not yet dry. Fold in half the sugar. Beat again until the mixture will stand in a firm, dry peak. Fold the remaining sugar in carefully. Pipe into the required shapes or spread onto non-stick baking paper or a silicone baking sheet as required. Bake in a very low oven, 100°C/200°F/gas ¼, for 4 hours approx.


Hot Tips


Edible Flower

Just discovered recently that dahlias are edible flowers, so I’ve been adding them to lots of salads, they are particularly beautiful sprinkled over a potato salad. The Mexicans apparently grew them originally for their tubers rather than flowers.

Collect Fennell Pollen:

Fancy chefs pay a fortune for fennel pollen but you can harvest your own from fennel flowers.  Allow to dry upside down on a sheet of parchment paper to collect the pollen. Store in a tiny screw top jar. Use to scatter over pangrilled fish or goat cheese.


Japonica are the hard green fruit of the Chaenomeles shrub, they are part of the quince family and make a delicious Japonica jelly to serve with game, particularly pheasant or guinea. Use 14ozs sugar with each pint of juice, the juice of a lemon and maybe a few mint or verbena leaves.

Apples, Apples everywhere

Apples apples everywhere, ripening faster than we can cook or eat them. So beautiful that we can’t bear to waste even the windfalls, so what to do?

After we’ve shared with our neighbours and friends (that’s if they’re not in the same situation as we are!), don’t forget St Vincent de Paul and Penny Dinners – they may also be happy to receive a basket or two of either cookers or eaters.

There’s the dilemma, not everyone knows what variety of apples they have in their garden. The original labels may have got lost or simply got blown away.

If you’re anxious to identify the variety, start with your local garden centre, alternatively, the heroic team at the Irish Seed Savers will identify the variety for a few euros per apple (pop them into the post). Contact

Finally, order a copy of  Heritage Apples of Ireland by Michael Hennerty, which has brilliant illustrations of many Irish apples.

So back to the dilemma of what to do and how to store your harvest.

Apples can last for a surprisingly long time in a cool, preferably north facing garage.

It’s important that they don’t touch each other, if one starts to deteriorate, the rot quickly spreads. The low sided, timber crates that some fruit comes in stack perfectly, so ask your greengrocer or supermarket to keep some for you. We also use the compressed cardboard or moulded polystyrene dividers that come in the boxes of apples.

You’ll need to check regularly and use the ripe eaters as soon as possible. Cookers like Bramley Seedling really do keep brilliantly if stored in a cool shed. We’ve managed to store them until February or March. However, they must be properly mature and blemish free before they’re picked,  use the windfalls first.

When I was a child in the midlands, winters were definitely colder.   Mummy, asked Pad (our brilliant gardener cum handyman) to make a pit to store the cookers in, I wish I could remember exactly how it was done.

I seem to recall the top soil being dug out from a rectangle in the vegetable garden, then a three or four inch layer of sand which was topped with straw. The apples, carefully sorted, were laid on top in layers. Was there straw in between?

The mount of apples, about 12 inches deep was covered in straw, then a layer of sand, then finally the whole pit was covered in soil.

The edges and top were smoothed off with a shovel and a few bits of old carpet or sacks were laid on top to protect from rain and the occasional shower of snow.

The pit was opened from the narrow end and the apples carefully extracted as needed and then the pit was meticulously closed again.

We seemed to have had apples for most of the winter.

Apples can also be frozen –  peel, core, quarter and dip in acidulated water (add lemon juice)  until you have a bag full. Drain, seal and pop straight into the freezer. Apple purée freezes brilliantly in tubs, great for apple sauce, crumbles, apple snow, apple charlotte…..

Fresh apple juice can be frozen in recycled litre milk containers – much fresher tasting than the pasteurised apple juice available.

And then of course there’s cider, great fun to make – dash off to a brewing or DIY shop and buy a little bit of kit. You’ll need a few demi johns, air locks, campden tablets, a syphon tube and a sense of adventure. Hygiene is crucial, every batch will be different depending on the mixture of apples, but it should all be drinkable!

There’s also a tonne of information on the internet about cider making. Here I give recipes for some my favourite chutneys, apple and ginger jam, Bramley apple sauce, apple jelly….


 Apple and Ginger Jam


Try to find home-grown Bramley Seedling. They have quite a different flavour and texture from commercial varieties that have now been adapted to keep their shape in cooking rather than endearingly dissolving into a fluff as Bramley’s always once did.


Makes 10 x 200ml (7fl oz) jars


1.8kg (4lb) Bramley’s Seedling or other tart cooking apples

2 organic lemons

25g (1oz) fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1.6kg (31⁄2lb) granulated sugar, warmed


Peel the apples and remove their cores. Put the peels and cores into a stainless-steel saucepan with 425ml (3⁄4 pint) of water. Cook over a medium heat until soft.

Meanwhile, chop the apples and put them into a wide, stainless-steel saucepan. Add the finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice from the 2 lemons, plus the ginger and 600ml (1 pint) of water. Bring to the boil and cook until the apples dissolve into a purée.

As soon as the apple peels and cores are soft, strain though a nylon sieve into the other saucepan. Bring the mixture back to the boil, add the hot sugar and stir to dissolve. Boil until the jam reaches a setting point. Pot into sterilised jars and cover while still hot. Store in a cool, dry place.



Bramley Apple Sauce 


The secret of really good apple sauce is to use a heavy-based saucepan and very little water. The apples should break down into a fluff during the cooking. Freeze in small tubs to accompany pork or duck, also brilliant for kids.


450g (1lb) Bramley cooking apples

2 teaspoons water

50g (2oz/1/4 cup) sugar, or more depending on tartness of the apples


Peel, quarter and core the apples, then cut the quarters in two and put in a small stainless steel or cast iron saucepan. Add the sugar and water, cover and cook over a low heat. As soon as the apple has broken down, stir so it’s a uniform texture and taste for sweetness. Serve warm.



Bramley Apple and Rose Geranium Sauce

Add 3 or 4 rose geranium leaves to the apples in the saucepan. Cook as above. The sauce will have a delicious haunting flavour.




Crab Apple or Bramley Apple Jelly


Makes 2.7-3kg (6-7 lb)


2.7kg (6 lb) crab apples or wind fall cooking apples

2.7L (4 3/4 pints/11 3/4 cups) water

2 unwaxed lemons



Wash the apples and cut into quarters, do not remove either peel or core. Windfalls may be used, but make sure to cut out the bruised parts. Put the apples into a large saucepan with the water and the thinly pared rind of the lemons, cook until reduced to a pulp, approx. 3/4 hour.

Turn the pulp into a jelly bag* and allow to drip until all the juice has been extracted – usually overnight.  Measure the juice into a preserving pan and allow 450g (1lb/2 cups) sugar to each 600ml (1pint/2 1/2 cups) of juice.  Warm the sugar in a low oven.


Squeeze the lemons, strain the juice and add to the preserving pan. Bring to the boil and add the warm sugar. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Increase the heat and boil rapidly uncovered without stirring for about 8-10 minutes.  Skim, test and pot immediately.

Flavour with sweet geranium, mint or cloves as required (see below).


Apple and Sweet Geranium Jelly

Add 6-8 large leaves of sweet geranium while the apples are stewing and put a fresh leaf into each jar as you pot the jelly.


Apple and Clove Jelly

Add 3-6 cloves to the apples as they stew and put a clove in each pot.  Serve on bread or scones.


Apple and Mint Jelly

Add 4-6 large sprigs of fresh mint to the apples while they are stewing and add 4-8 tablespoons (4-8 American tablespoons + 4-8 teaspoons) of finely chopped fresh mint to the jelly just before it is potted.   Serve with lamb.


Apple and Rosemary Jelly

Add 2 sprigs of rosemary to the apples as they stew and put a tiny sprig into each pot.  Serve with lamb.




Apple and Elderberry Jelly

Add a fistful or two of elderberries to the apple and continue as above. Up to half the volume of elderberries can be used (1/2 pint of elderberries works very well although it’s not essential to measure – it’s a good starting point). A sprig or two of mint or rose geranium or a cinnamon stick further enhances the flavour.


Apple and Sloe Jelly

Substitute 2-3 cups of sloes for elderberries in the above recipe.


Apple and Marjoram Jelly

Add 4-6 large sprigs of fresh marjoram to the apples while they are stewing and add 3-4 tablespoons (3-4 American tablespoons + 3-4 teaspoons) of finely chopped fresh marjoram to the jelly just before it is potted.


Apple and Chilli Jelly (quantity of chilli may change)

Add 2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) of chilli flakes to the apples and proceed as above.


Apple and Cranberry Jelly (quantity of cranberries may change)

Add 450-900g (1-2 lbs) cranberries to the apples and proceed as above.


Crab Apple and Rosehip Jelly

A few leaves of lemon verbena greatly enhance the flavour.



crab or Brambly apples



lemon verbena (optional)


Follow the crab apple jelly recipe and add about 1/3 to 1/2 roughly chopped rose hips in proportion to your crab apples.



Apple and Tomato Chutney

There are a million recipes for tomato chutney. This is definitely one of the best and has the advantage of using up a glut of windfall apples as well.


Makes 12 x 450g (1lb) pots


3.6kg (8lb) ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped

450g (1lb) onions, peeled and chopped

450g (1lb) eating apples, peeled and chopped

1.3kg (3lb) sugar

850ml (11⁄2 pints/3 3/4 cups) white malt vinegar

2 tablespoons salt

2 teaspoons ground ginger

3 teaspoons ground black pepper

3 teaspoons allspice

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 level teaspoon cayenne pepper

350g (12oz) sultanas


Prepare all the ingredients and put into a large, wide stainless-steel saucepan. Bring to the boil. Simmer steadily, uncovered, for about 1 hour, until reduced by one-third and slightly thick. Pot in sterilised jars, cover with non-reactive lids and store in a cool, dry place.





Hot Tips

Tip from Noma in Copenhagen:

Snip off the flowers from your parsley plants and scatter over salads or smoked fish, delish.


Congratulations to Avril  and the Allshire family of Caherbeg Pork Products and Toby Simmonds and Johnny Lynch of Toonsbridge Mozzarella company, worthy winners of the Belling West Cork Artisan Food Awards, sponsored since 2011 by Sean and Rose O’Driscoll of Glen Dimplex/Belling Ltd, both natives of West Cork.

The awards were presented in Lis Ard Country House followed by a feast of West Cork artisan produce. Elma Nolan of Union Hall smoked salmon was also presented with a Hall of Fame award for her contribution to the artisan food sector .

Date for your diary

Bandon Engage Arts Festival 26 – 28th September

This year’s instalment of” The Art of Living” Series features the Ferguson Family of Gubbeen Farm, Schull, Co. Cork. This friendly & interactive event will include a hosted discussion by food writer Dianne Curtin with Giana & Fingal Ferguson about their life philosophy and how that has shaped their business and lifestyles. Giana will read from her up-coming new book “Gubbeen – The Story of a Working Farm and its Food” (due out on 16 October 2014). Audience participation is encouraged and taster plates of Gubbeen’s produce will be shared out.

There is no advance booking or charge however as space is limited to 30 seats early arrival is recommended.


For more information: Ruth Healy, Urru Culinary Store; 023 8854731 – 086 8372138

Dillisk Restaurant


The hottest restaurant ticket this summer wasn’t in Dublin, Cork or even Galway. It’s  a little pop-up restaurant in Aughrusbeg out in the wilds on Connemara.


It’s in an old stone cottage which was used as a boat house on a sand dune close to the waters edge. The bright young chefs behind the project are Jasper O’ Connor and Katie Sanderson, (past Ballymaloe Cookery School Students) who last Easter gathered some pals around and started to renovate the fisherman’s cottage from an advanced state of dereliction. They scrubbed and white washed merrily, planted the garden, foraged and pickled. The tables and benches were assembled from old pallets, the candle sticks from wooden banisters and recycled wood. Salt and pepper is served in mussel and cockle shells. The resulting upcycled look is chic and contemporary.

The restaurant opened on 26th June and is booked out till the end of August. Lucky guests pay €50 – €55 per head for the 5 course menu which in reality is about 7 courses and includes a welcome drink. Guests can bring their own wine or craft beer.


Getting there is part of the adventure,- an enchanting drive through breathtaking Connemara. As you wend your way through the narrow boreens towards Claddaghduff.  Montbresia, ragworth, loosestrife and fluffy meadow sweet are in full bloom in the hedgerows  – a profusion of orange, yellow, purple and cream.

You’ll need to keep your eyes peeled for a tiny painted sign on drift wood for Dillisk. From the car park guests walk past Jasper and Katie’s raised vegetable and fresh herb beds. The little lean-to green house is brimming with ripe Sungold and ? tomatoes, then we wander on through the long grass to the stone cottage where the lovely Emily greeted us with a beetroot gin and tonic sprinkled with marigold petals. Katie and Jasper, who love to forage, pickle, cure and smoked change the menu almost daily. Outside the kitchen door Sam Gleeson was grilling sprouting broccoli spears over Jaspers homemade Tandoor oven before he went on to cook the tiny Naan breads for guests to nibble with the aperitif. These were topped with chopped home grown tomatoes and freshly snipped basil. Japser passed around another board with beetroot cured mackerel wrapped in slivers of cucumber. Already there was a palatable sense of excitement and anticipation among the 32 dinner guests all of whom felt they’d won the lotto to have secured a seat at the long table. The view across the white sandy beach to the Twelve Pins in the distance in the early evening light was truly magical – reminiscent of a Paul Henry landscape.

When the breeze became brisker we wandered in to take our places at the long upcycled candle lit table. Little night lights were tucked into tiny niches in the stone wall. The food began to arrive,  some served family style, other dishes were plated. First there was a smoked dillisk broth with Aitor’s garden greens, then bowls of freshly picked cockles with lovage, an extra treat that didn’t even appear on the hand written menu. Tandoori cooked fresh Pollack with fennel and sea beet from the boats at nearby Cleggan harbour came next with an oyster leaf (Maritima ) ? on the edge.


Cucumber snow with goat curd and Dingle Gin came next to flit across the tongue and clear our pallets. Main course was Achill Island lamb, both slow cooked shoulder and belly with sleabhac (seaweed) and bowls of roast new potatoes and aioli.

Honey carrageen moss, chocolate soil and wild sorrel, another inspired combination continued the foraging theme. But that wasn’t all there were two more surprises, a play on the American ‘pickle back’,  two little shot glasses arrived, one with pickle juice, the other with Teelings whiskey and last but not least home made marshmallows with flaked almonds, a wild strawberry and a sorrel leaf to pop into your mouth all in one go completed the feast.


The guests were a mix of locals, holiday makers artists, farmers, restauranteurs , teckies, sailors, golfers, lawyers and  musicians, among them sean-nos  singer  Norin Ui Riain and her equally gifted son Moley of (Owen & Moley) who jumped up spontaneously towards the end of the meal and sang an ode to Katie and Jasper and all their lovely friends who worked so hard and cheerfully to produce a feast from their tiny kitchen and a truly memorable evening and food experience for all of us.


Ireland surely needs more imaginative and talented young people like Jasper and Katie and their full loving imaginative friends to give our visitors a real taste of the local and foraged food of that place


Where did Katie and Jasper pop out of ?


Katie is already known to many through her previous creative projects – Living Dinners,  the Hare Café at IMMA in Dublin.

Jasper honed his skills at Town Bar and Grill, the Cake Cafe, Ard Bia and an exciting stint in the US.


Beetroot Cured Mackerel with Courgette and Lemon Crème Fraiche


50 canapes, approx..


4 mackerel fillets

4ozs (100g) sugar

4 ozs (100g) salt

8 ozs (200g) raw beetroot, finely grated

3 small fresh courgettes

6 ozs (150g) crème fraiche

Grated zest of  2 lemons

Salt and freshly ground pepper



Gut, clean and fillet the fish making sure that all the bones have been removed.


Mix the salt and sugar together, sprinkle 1/3 on the base of a small shallow dish, choose one just wide enough to hold the fish fillets.


Smear both sides of the fish fillets with the grated beetroot,  then lay 2 fillets skin side down on the cure. Dust with more of the cure, then lay the other two fillets on top, skin side up, then cover with the remaining of the cure.


Cover the dish, refrigerate to allow the fish to cure for anywhere between 1 and 3 days depending on how strong you like it.


To serve:

Grate the lemon zest into the crème fraiche, season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Slice the courgettes lengthwise into paper thin slices. Cut the mackerel into 1/2inch wedges. Dab with lemon crème fraiche and wrap in a thin slice of courgette. Serve as a simple canapé on some crackers or in a summery salad.



Ham Hock and Parsley Broth


Serves 10 -15



2 mild cure ham hocks

2 onions, quarterd

1 stick celery

2 carrots, roughly chopped

1 sprig thyme

1 sprig rosemary

parsley stalks


2ltr well flavoured chicken stock

handful of Dillisk


1 kg parsley



Broad beans

Crispy pig skin

Sea rocket flowers




Put all the vegetables, parsley stalks and the ham hocks into a large pot, cover with cold water, cover the pot and simmer for 6 hours or until the meat is almost falling from the bones. Strain the liquid, separate the meat, tear into small bite sized pieces and reserve some of the liquid.


Heat the chicken stock and pour over the dillisk and allow to cool. Season with black pepper and the ham hock cooking liquid.

Pick all of the parsley leaves off the stalks, blanch in boiling water for a few seconds then refresh in iced water. Blend in a high powered food processor until smooth.

To serve,

Mix the parsley purée with the chicken and dillisk stock, add the ham hock and warm through. Season.

Jasper and Katie garnish the broth with broad beans, crispy pig skin and sea rocket flowers or fried cabbage.



Honey Carrigeen Mousse with Wild Sorrel Juice


Serves 25 – 30 people


2 ozs (50g) dried carrageen

½ cup water

1 Jar of Locally sourced Honey ( we used Cleggan  Honey)

6 egg yolks

3 whites

18 fl ozs (500 ml) cream

3 1/2oz (100g) castor sugar



Wild Sorrel leaves

Spinach leaves

1 green apple

1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum



In a small saucepan, heat the carrageen with 200ml  water, simmer gently for 25 minutes.

Pour the contents into a sieve and press the jelly like carrageen  into a bowl  with your fingers or a spoon. Warm the honey in a pot and on a low heat  for a minute or two to loosen.  Whisk the cream and half the sugar until stiff and keep aside.

Meanwhile,  whisk the egg yolks with the other half of the sugar and beat until pale and thick.

Mix the warm honey and carrageen  together and pour slowly into the egg yolk mixture.

Whisk the egg whites to a stiff peak, fold into the mixture with sweetened cream. Cover and put into the fridge to set for minimum of four hours.


To serve

Juice a handful each of wild sorrel  and spinach plus a green apple. Add some lemon juice if it needs more acidity. Blitz a 1/8 of a teaspoon of Xanthan gum into the juice (this will brighten and thicken juice). Serve the Honey Carrageen Mousse  with sorrel juice and edible flowers.





Hot Tips

The Autumn  12 Week Certificate  Course at Ballymaloe Cookery School is now over subscribed but check out the golden ticket raffle on the GIY website  for details of an opportunity to win a place on the January 12 Week course. Draw will take place at the GIY gathering in Waterford on September 13th, 2014.



Irish plums are now is season – contact Kristen Jameson at Tourin, Cappoquin, Co Waterford – phone: 087 2361984. They freeze brilliantly and make delicious jam, compotes, desserts and sauces.

Blackberries and Brambles


Wow, there’s going to be the hughest crop of blackberries this year so I am gearing myself up for lots of blackberry picking expeditions. We’re also planning a myriad of delicious ways to use them, not just the usual jams, jellies and cobblers but wine, liqueur and cordials. I’ll throw some fresh blackberries into smoothies and scones and scatter them over a layer of softly whipped cream to fill a feather light sponge.

A few juicy berries combined with chunks of ripe melon and shredded mint make a delicious starter and even a dessert.

I’ll also get to make that sublime blackberry trifle I tasted at Dock Kitchen, London last Autumn or even a simple blackberry and sweet geranium puff. I’m also planning to pop some in the freezer, they keep brilliantly particularly if one takes the time to tray freeze first before putting them into good strong plastic bags or boxes. Blackberries come from the Rubus Genus, the Rosacea family and there are lots of different strains, some are small, others fat and plump. Apart from being juicy and delicious, they are packed with vitamins, minerals and trace elements. They’ve got lots of fibre and antioxidants and are particularly rich in vitamin C  Vitamin – the healing vitamin.

However, they are low in pectin so jam and jelly makers will need to use jam sugar unless they combine the blackberries with tart cooking apples or crab apples to increase the acidity.

I am systematically reducing sugar by 20% in all my recipes because of my observation that the sugar we now have access to is more intensely sweet than the Irish sugar beet sugar that my original recipes were based on. However, sugar is the preservative in jams, jellies, cordials et al so be careful not to reduce too much or the preserves won’t keep.

Picking Tips

Blackberries should be selected at the peak of ripeness, unlike many other fruits they don’t continue to ripen after they are picked. Inspect each one as you pick them, the centre should be white and unblemished, if it appears stained or inky it usually indicates that the fruit has been infected by little worms.  Its worth togging yourself out with a pair of jeans and a long sleeve shirt and a leather glove to clasp the thorny brambles. When the berries are ripe they come away easily in your hands without any resistance.


Blackberry and Cinnamon Scones


Makes 18-20 scones using a 7 1/2 cm (3 inch) cutter



900g (2lb/4 cups) plain white flour

3 heaped teaspoons baking powder

pinch of salt

50g (2oz/1/4 cup) castor sugar

175g (6oz/1 1/2 cups) butter

110g (4oz) blackberries

3 free range eggs

450ml (15floz/scant 2 cups) approx. milk to mix


For glaze:

egg wash (see below)

55g (2ozs) granulated sugar for sprinkling on top of the scones

½ teaspoon cinnamon


First preheat the oven to 250ºC/475°F/gas mark 9.


Sieve all the dry ingredients together in a large wide bowl. Cut the butter into cubes, toss in the flour and rub in the butter until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the blackberries. Make a well in the centre. Whisk the eggs with the milk, add to the dry ingredients and mix to a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board.  Knead lightly, just enough to shape into a round.  Roll out to about a thickness of 2cm (1 inch) and cut or stamp into scones.  Transfer to a baking sheet – no need to grease.

Brush the tops with egg wash and dip each one into cinnamon sugar.


Bake in a hot oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool on a wire rack.

Serve split in half with butter and serve.


Egg wash:

Whisk 1 egg with a pinch of salt. This is brushed over the scones and pastry to help them to brown in the oven.




Pan Grilled Duck Breast with Blackberry Colcannon


Serves 4


4 free-range duck breasts

sea salt


Blackberry Colcannon


450g (1lb) Savoy or spring cabbage

900g – 1.35kg (2-3lb) ‘old’ potatoes, e.g. Golden Wonders or Kerrs Pinks

250ml (8fl oz/1 cup) approx. boiling milk

25g (1oz) scallion or spring onion, optional

salt and freshly ground pepper

50g (2oz/1/2 stick) approx . butter

110g (4oz) blackberries


First make the colcannon.

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 about half cooked, 15 minutes approx. for ‘old’ potatoes, strain off two-thirds of the water, replace the lid on the saucepan, put onto a gentle heat and allow the potatoes to steam until they are cooked.


Remove the dark outer leaves from the cabbage. Wash the rest and cut into quarters, remove the core and cut finely across the grain. Boil in a little boiling water or bacon cooking water until soft. Drain, season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a little butter. When the potatoes are just cooked, put the milk, and the finely chopped scallions into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Pull the peel off the potatoes and discard, mash quickly while they are still warm and beat in enough boiling milk to make a fluffy puree. (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 approx. Cover while reheating so it doesn’t get too crusty on top.


Meanwhile score the duck skin into a diamond pattern.  Sprinkle lightly with salt.  Put a pan grill on a low heat.  Cook the duck breasts very slowly and gently for 15-20 minutes on the fat side, by then the fat should be rendered out, (pour off the excess and save for duck confit), and the skin will be crisp and golden.  Season the flesh side with sea salt and turn over, continue to cook until to your taste.   I personally like duck breast medium to well done, not fashionably rare, which frequently results in the meat being tough and stringy.


Just before serving, fold the blackberry gently into the soft colcannon.   Put a dollop on each plate and top with a whole or sliced duck breast.




Blackberry Trifle

Recipe Stevie Parle, Dock Kitchen


The combination of port and blackberries with the custard and sponge seems to really work in this trifle


Cook time: chill in fridge for 2 hours


200g/7oz sugar

275ml/½ pint cheap port

450g/1lb blackberries, plus a few extra to decorate

A squeeze of lemon juice

600ml/1 pint double cream

200ml/7fl oz whole milk

1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped

1 egg, plus 3 egg yolks

200g/7oz stale sponge cake, Madeira cake or Savoiardi biscuits

A handful flaked almonds, toasted



Place half the sugar and half the port in a pan and simmer for a couple of minutes until the sugar dissolves. Drop in the blackberries, add a squeeze of lemon, stir gently once, then take off the heat. Leave to cool.

Meanwhile, prepare the custard. Over a low heat, bring half the cream and all the milk to a simmer along with the vanilla pod. Whisk the egg and yolks with the remaining sugar for a couple of minutes until they begin to look paler. As soon as the milk is about to boil, slowly pour it over the eggs, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and stir slowly over a low heat with a wooden spoon until the custard thickens and coats the back of the spoon, about three minutes. Transfer to a chilled bowl and allow to cool.

Spoon the fruit into your trifle bowl and return the syrup to a low heat for two minutes to reduce; pour over the fruit and leave to cool. Slice the cake into 1cm-thick slices, or cut the Savoiardi biscuits in half.


Blackberry and Rose Geranium Cordial


Keep a bottle of this handy to serve over ice cream, carrageen moss pudding or panna cotta. Alternatively, dilute with hot or cold water or sparkling wine to make a delicious drink. Rose or sweet geranium (Peloganium Graveoleans)  and blackberries are a marriage made in Heaven.


Makes 1.5 litres (2 1/2 pints)


2.5kg (6lb) fresh blackberries

10–12 sweet geranium leaves (depending on size)

600ml (1 pint) water


juice of 1–2 unwaxed lemons (depending on size)


Put the blackberries, sweet geranium leaves and water into a stainless-steel saucepan.

Cook for 15–20 minutes or until the blackberries are completely soft and juicy. Crush with a potato masher. Strain through a jelly bag or tie in a square of muslin and allow to drip into a bowl. Measure the juice and allow 500g–700g (18oz – 1 1/2lb) sugar to every 600ml (1 pint) of juice. Add the lemon juice, stir to dissolve.


Hot Tips

A Week at Ballymaloe Cookery School Organic Farm and Gardens,  1st – 5th September

-  Students on this course will – Sow a seed, learn the basics of organic growing and how to make compost  – Make a cheese right from the beginning starting with adding rennet to the milk, you will turn it yourself through the week. How to work with a glut, what to do when you’re growing is too successful! Learn many recipes to make with wonderful produce and lots,  lots more ………. For further information



Iskeroon is enchantingly off the beaten track – a couple of miles down a steep meandering boreen not far from Caherdaniel in Co Kerry.  The views looking down over the sea and islands would quite simply take your breath away. David and Geraldine Hare’s chic  self-catering apartments are close to the oceans edge so you can fish, swim, sail or surf, its also a walkers paradise. If you’d just prefer to relax you could curl up on the sofa and read –  and for supper scramble some lovely fresh eggs from their happy lazy hens. – a rare and special find.

066 9475119



Date for your diary

Ballymaloe Garden Festival 30 & 31 August, another weekend full of garden workshops, walks and talks in the grounds of Ballymaloe House, specialist nursery stalls selling rare plants, seeds, garden equipment and much more. Entrance €5 per adult, children free, workshops and talks priced separately please see for more details

Gardening – Fruit and Veg in Abundance

For gardeners who grow vegetables and fruit, this is the time of abundance, a period of joy and frustration in equal measure. At last the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of all that digging and hoeing but often there are simply not enough meal times to use up every last scrap.

I feel horribly guilty if any gets wasted, although inevitably despite my best efforts some of the produce goes over the top. It cheers me up to know that at least it ends up on the compost heap and eventually goes back on to the earth to make the soil even more fertile  for next year’s crops.

I keep adding to my store of preserving recipes, jams, pickles, chutneys, jellies, cordials, alcohols, flavoured vinegars, fruit cheeses…..

So many exciting options, our repertoire of basic recipes are fine but the fun begins when one starts to experiment by adding spices, fresh herbs and chillies and playing around with flavour combinations.

I recently across came across Diana Henry’s book Salt, Sugar, Smoke – it’s really good, fab photos and lots of irresistible recipes using salt, sugar and smoke. So as the title promises there are lots of salted cured and potted dishes, jellies and jams of course but there are also cordials, fruit and chilli alcohols, lemonades and sherbets as well as chutneys, relishes and pickles and simple smoked foods.

Diana has a growing fan base from her earlier books, Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons, Cook Simple and Food From Plenty. She was named cookery writer of the year by the UK Guild of Food Writers on two occasions for her column in the Sunday Telegraph Stella Magazine.

Try the Moroccan spiced chutney or the Apple and Lavender Jelly with the first of the windfall apples.  Anyone who grows gorgeous white peaches in a green house or tunnel knows how difficult it is to pick them without bruising. It’s usually a feast or a famine but if you have a surplus you can discard the bruised bits and try the white peach and raspberry jam recipe. I loved it and added some fresh mint but it’s delicious on its own.


White peach and raspberry jam

Lovely to look at as it’s being made and, of course, fragrant as the scent of raspberries and white peaches blend. You can make it with yellow peaches, but it’s not as good. This jam has less sugar than is traditional, so is fresh, fruity and tart. You can add a sprig of lavender or lemon thyme.


Fills 9 x 225g (8oz) jars


900g (2lb) white peaches

600g (1lb 5oz) raspberries]

1kg (2lb 4oz) granulated sugar with pectin

(‘jam sugar’)

juice of 2 lemons


Plunge the peaches, in batches, into a pan of boiling water for one minute. Quickly remove them, run cold water over and peel off the skins. Halve, stone and cut each half into slices.


Put the peaches into a preserving pan with the raspberries, sugar and lemon juice. Gently heat, stirring to help the sugar dissolve. Once it has dissolved, whack the heat up and bring to a boil. Boil steadily until the setting point is reached (check on a sugar thermometer and do the wrinkle test as

well, skimming off any scum that rises.


Leave to cool for about 10 minutes, so the seeds end up well distributed, then pot in warm, dry sterilized jars, cover with waxed paper discs and seal. This keeps for a year; refrigerate once opened.



Apple and lavender jelly

Apple acts as the basis for many flavoured jellies, both sweet and savoury. They are so high in pectin that they produce a jelly that is easy to set, and their flavour doesn’t dominate when you mix it with other things. You can make plain apple jelly, but herbs and spices mean you have a whole array of flavours to use with different meats: lavender and rosemary for lamb, sage for

pork, for example. I prefer savoury apple jellies made with cider vinegar (so they have a sweet acid tang) but some people prefer them sweet. Properly sweet ones to be served with muffins and scones (like the Fireside Apple Jelly below and the Rose Jelly, see page 54) are made with water (add enough just to cover the apples) rather than vinegar.


Fills 7 x 500g (1lb 2oz) jars


2.5kg (5lb 8oz) cooking apples

3 sprigs of fresh lavender, plus small sprigs

for each pot

1.3 litres (2¼ pints) cider vinegar

about 1.3kg (3lb) granulated sugar

1 Cut the apples into chunks – no need to peel or core them, though remove any bruised bits – and cover with 1.5 litres (2 pints 13fl oz) of water. Add the lavender. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the apples are completely soft (about 45 minutes).


2 Add the vinegar and cook for another five minutes. Pour the mixture into a jelly bag suspended over a large bowl, and leave overnight. Do not press the apples or you’ll get a cloudy jelly.


3 Measure the liquid. For every 600ml (1 pint), you will need 450g (1lb) of sugar. Put the liquid into a preserving pan with the sugar and heat gently, stirring to help the sugar dissolve. Bring to a boil and boil until the setting point is reached on a thermometer (and do the wrinkle test, see page 11).

Skim off any scum.


4 Ladle into warm, dry sterilized jars. Put a sprig of lavender in each. Cover with waxed paper discs and seal. While it is setting, shake it so the lavender doesn’t stay at the top. This keeps for a year; refrigerate once opened.


Moroccan-spiced apricot chutney

For years I’ve made a chicken dish with apricots, honey and orange flower water. This is that sauce as a chutney. You can omit the flower water, but it lends a touch of the voluptuous east…


Fills 2 x 500g (1lb 2oz) jars


500g (1lb 2oz) dried apricots, chopped

500g (1lb 2oz) cooking apples, peeled,

cored and finely chopped

250g (9oz) tomatoes, chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

300ml (½ pint) white wine vinegar

100g (3½oz) sultanas

juice of 1 lemon

juice of 1 orange

3 tsp ground ginger

1 cinnamon stick, halved

3/4 tbsp cayenne pepper

250g (9oz) golden granulated sugar

7 tbsp runny honey (preferably orange blossom)

1 tsp orange flower water, or to taste

1 Put everything except the honey and flower water into a pan and bring to a boil, stirring to help the sugar dissolve. Reduce the heat and cook gently for one and a half hours, stirring so it does not catch.


2 Stir in the honey and cook gently for 15 minutes. Add the flower water, then taste. You might want more but don’t go mad, it should be just a fragrant whiff. Pot in warm, sterilized jars, cover with waxed paper discs and seal with vinegar-proof lids. This keeps for a year.


Loganberry or Raspberry Cordial



1½lb (700g) loganberries or raspberries

10oz (300g) castor sugar

Juice of ½ lemon

1¾ pints (1litre) water


Put the fruit, sugar and water into a stainless steel saucepan over a medium heat, add the freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Bring to the boil and simmer for 5-6 minutes or until the loganberries soften and disintegrate.   Remove from the heat, cool.

Pour through a nylon sieve.   Rub the pulp through and discard the pips.   Pour into sterilized bottles.   Seal and store in the fridge.



Hot Tip

Revelation of the Week

Guess what I discovered this week – dahlias are edible.

At Glebe restaurant in Baltimore, my green salad was scattered with bright orange and wine coloured flower petals. The lovely waitress confided that they were dahlias and Jean Perry – gardener extraordinaire shared a further nugget of information – apparently the Mexicans grew them originally for their tubers – can’t wait to taste some when my dahlias stop flowering.


The Holistic Gardener:

This book is a little gem with tons of tips on how to stay safe and deal with accidents in the garden. It is published by Mercier Press and comes from the knowledgeable and witty co-presenter of Dermot’s Secret Garden on RTE 1, Fiann O’ Nuallain,  Watch out for Fiann O Nuallain speaking at the Ballymaloe Garden Festival, August 30th  –

Long Table Dinner

Every year we have a thanksgiving feast in the greenhouses towards the end of July – A Long Table dinner for 100 people in the midst of the tomato vines and scarlet runner beans. Virtually all the food comes from the farm and gardens,   the floury British Queen potatoes from Willie Scannell’s farm in Ballyandreen and the fish comes from nearby Ballycotton. It’s a magical evening – a celebration of the work of the gardeners  and farm lads and an opportunity for the guests to get a glimpse behind the scenes of a 100 acre organic farm and gardens, which grows a wide variety of crops –  fruit, veg and fresh herbs. We also have lots of hens, several sows, heritage breeds that snuffle about outdoors all their happy lives. The home-made butter, cheese, yoghurt and buttermilk is made from the milk of our Jersey cows and the beef from the Aberdeen Angus, Kerry and Dexter cattle.

This was the third year . People came from Alabama, Arkasas, Los Angeles, North Carolina, Copenhagen, UK and Ireland, many were return guests who joined us in former years. The event raises money to support the East Cork Slow Food Educational project which links in with nine local schools to teach children how to grow and cook. We deliver a chicken coop to each school with two hens so the children can learn how to look after poultry, you can’t imagine the excitement when the hens lay their first eggs. The chicken manure goes onto the compost heap in the school which helps to enrich the soil so the children can grow more beautiful fresh vegetables, herbs and fruit in the school gardens.

Rory O Connell, my brother and co-founder of the Ballymaloe Cookery School devised the menu, planned the event, cooked the meal with Ballymaloe Cookery School team of teachers and full supporting cast who wouldn’t miss the buzz for anything.

This year we had the first fresh figs and grapes from the greenhouse as well as sweet heritage cherry tomatoes and baby cucumbers for our guests to taste.

It’s a big operation which takes several months to plan. After the crop of early potatoes come out of the ground in April,  Haulie sows ‘lawn seed’ in one of the bays to provide a green carpet for the long table. The one acre green house is a legacy of an earlier horticultural enterprise originally created by my father-in-law Ivan Allen in the 1940’s. The greenhouse provides us with a one acre protected garden that enables us to grow a myriad of crops from tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines, peppers, chillis, beans, sweetcorn, salad leaves, herbs, beetroot, chard, kale, even peaches, nectarines, grapes, kiwi and pomegranates.  Lemon grass, lime leaves and epasote grown in a dry corner at the nursery end so we can have fun with Asian and Mexican dishes.

So there’s lots of beautiful produce to choose from. The gardeners plant some tall flowers between the dollies to frame the green lawn and a day or two before the event screens are erected to screen the field kitchen from which all the food emerges.

Guests arrive at the cookery school around four o clock in the afternoon, Sommeliers Colm McCann and Fionn Little are waiting with a bio dynamic fizz and several cordials. This year had lots of fizz of fresh mint, so we also served Syrian lemonade, a recipe I brought back from a visit to Damascus in 2009.

The starters are served family style , guests help themselves and each other, Jack Mc Carthy from Kanturk cured the hams from, our own Saddlepork pigs, Rory served them with Ballyhoura mushrooms which Lucy Creegan herself delivered earlier in the day. Anna Leveque’s beautiful handmade Triscal goat cheese was served with Rory’s plum membrillo and summer purslane. Emer Fitzgerald had foraged earlier on Shanagarry strand for the sea lettuce, marsh samphire, sea rosemary and sea purslane that embellished the starters.

After the guests have enjoyed an aperitif, we walk them through the farm, gardens and dairy past the hens, Saddleback pigs and heritage cattle grazing in the fields. Eventually we pass the herbaceous border and the shell house, and wend our way through the wildflower meadow under Dusto’s butterfly graffiti arch into the field vegetables. Here guests can see Jerusalem and globe artichokes, seakale, asparagus, rhubarb, runner beans, several types of brassicas, beets and potatoes. There’s also a strip of wheat destined for milling into flour for the Autumn 12 week course students to experiment with. Eventually we arrive at the greenhouse which resembles the Garden of Eden at this time of year. The Gardeners are playing music, Rupert Hugh Jones on the tin whistle, Sean Kelleher on guitar & vocals, Eileen Healy on fiddle and Coleman Kelleher on drums.

The Long Table has been covered with a white linen cloth and there’s a marigold peeping out of the top of each starched napkin. It all looks so beautiful in the midst of the vegetables and fruit and the feast begins.

The Gardeners play a tantalising mix of compositions and traditional a totally enchanting event raising money for an incredibly important cause – East Cork Slow Food Educational Project teaching local children how to cook and grow some of their own food.


Chilled Cucumber Soup with Melon and Verbena


Serves 8-10


1 large cucumber organic if possible

8 fl ozs (225ml) light cream

4 fl ozs (110ml) natural yoghurt

1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar

1/2 or 1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon finely chopped gherkins, optional

1 tablespoons finely chopped mint

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon very finely chopped verbena




1 Charentais or Ogen melon

Fresh verbena leaves



Grate the cucumber on the coarsest part of the grater. Stir in all the other ingredients. Season well. Taste and correct the seasoning.  Serve chilled in shot glasses or small bowls garnished with a few balls of ripe Charentais or Ogen melon and fresh verbena leaves.


Salt Hake with Spiced Aubergines and Rocket Leaves


Serves 8


1 x 1-1 1/2lbs (450g – 675g) hake

1 1/2oz – 2oz (40 – 50g) salt

3 fl ozs (75ml) cream

2 fl oz (50ml) olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Spiced Aubergines

500g (1 lb 2 ozs) Slim Jim aubergines

250ml (8 fl ozs/1 cup) approximate extra virgin olive oil

2 inches (5cm) cube of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped

12 large cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely crushed

110ml (4 fl ozs/1/2 cup) water

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) cumin seeds

700g (1 1/2lbs) very ripe tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped or 2 x 400g (14ozs) tin tomatoes + 1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoon) freshly ground coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like)

sea salt





First make the spiced aubergines.

Cut the aubergine into 3/4 inch (2cm) thick slices.  Heat 175ml (6 fl ozs/3/4 cup) of oil in a deep 10-12 inch (25-30cm) frying pan.  When hot, almost smoking, add a few aubergine slices and cook until golden and tender on both sides.  Remove and drain on a wire rack over a baking sheet.  Repeat with the remainder of the aubergines, adding more oil if necessary.  Alternatively brush generously with extra virgin olive oil and cook on a hot pan-grill.


Put the ginger, garlic and water into a blender.  Blend until fairly smooth.


Heat 3 tablespoons (4 American tablespoons) of oil in the frying pan.  When hot, add the fennel and cumin seeds, (careful not to let them burn).  Stir for just a few seconds then put in the chopped tomato, the ginger-garlic mixture, coriander, turmeric, cayenne and salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally until the spice mixture thickens slightly, 5-6 minutes.


Add the fried aubergine slices and raisins, and coat gently with the spicy sauce.  Cover the pan, turn the heat to very low and cook for another 3-4 minutes.  Keep aside.


Next, salt the hake.

Nowadays we salt to preserve fish in the short-term or to enhance flavour so there’s no need to use so much salt or salt for so long as years ago.


dairy or sea salt

thick, unskinned cod, hake, haddock or ling fillet


Sprinkle a thin layer of dairy or sea salt over the base of a lasagne dish or plastic box.  Put the fish fillet on top. Cover loosely and refrigerate for 2 hours. Cut into pieces, cook in boiling water for 3-4 minutes depending on thickness, lift out carefully and drain.

It is now ready to be cooked.  Salt cod can keep for up to a month if heavily salted, but we normally lightly salt it and use it within a couple of days or a week.


Put the fish into simmering water for 4-5 minutes depending on the thickness.

To Serve

Bring cream, olive oil and garlic to the boil. Drain the fish and remove the skin. Put a portion on a warm  plate, spoon a couple of tablespoons of garlic cream over the fish. Top with some warm spiced aubergine and garnish with a few rocket leaves.



Smoked Pollock with Marsh Samphire


Serves 8 as a starter


1-11/2lbs (450g- 700g) warm smoked Pollock

4-5ozs (110g- 160g) marsh samphire

2 red and yellow peppers

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper


Roast the peppers in a hot oven, 250C/475F/gas mark 9. Put the peppers on a baking tray and bake for 20-30 minutes until the skin blisters and the flesh is soft.

Put a wire rack over a mild gas jet, roast the pepper on all sides. When they are charred,  remove.  When roasted, put pepper into a bowl, cover tightly with cling film for a few minutes, this will make them much easier to peel. Peel and deseed and cut into strips. Next cook the samphire. Put the samphire into a saucepan of boiling water (not salted), bring back to the boil and simmer for about 3-4 minutes or until tender. Drain off the water (refresh in cold water if serving later).Toss in extra virgin olive – no salt because samphire has a natural salty tang.

To serve:

Divide the smoked Pollock into nice pieces, arrange on a serving platter with strips of red and yellow pepper and sprigs of samphire on top. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground pepper and a few flakes of sea salt.


How to hot smoke fish


You don’t need any special equipment – even a biscuit tin will do.

Lay the fish fillets flesh side up on a tray, sprinkle the unskinned Pollock with salt as though you were seasoning generously.

Leave for at least an hour but not more than 3 hours. Dry the fillets with kitchen paper, place on a wire rack and allow to dry in a cool, airy place for 30 minutes approx.. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sawdust (we use apple wood)  on the base of a rectangular biscuit tin or smoking box ( . Put a wire rack into the tin and lay the fish, flesh side up on top. Put the box on a gas jet over a high heat for a minute or so until the sawdust starts to smoulder. Cover the box. Reduce the heat and smoke for 6-7 minutes, turn off the heat and allow to sit unopened for 8-10 minutes.

Remove from the box and serve as you like.


Syrian Laymoun bi-na naFresh Lemon Juice with Mint



Freshly squeezed juices were widely available everywhere in Damascus and Aleppo – in restaurants and on street stalls, lots of orange and pomegranate of course, but we particularly enjoyed this refreshing lemon and mint drink.


Serves 6



juice of six lemons
300ml/10fl oz/ (½ pint) stock syrup
300ml/10fl oz/ (½ pint) cold water
2 fistfuls of fresh mint leaves


Squeeze the lemons, pour the juice into a liquidiser, add the syrup, fresh mint leaves and iced water. Whizz until mint is fine and the drink is frothy. Pour into a tall glass, drink through a straw while still fresh, divine.




Summer Bombe with Fresh Strawberry Coulis


J. R. Ryall, pastry chef at Ballymaloe House decorated the Bombe with fresh cherries from Tourin Farm and mint leaves.



Serves 12 – 16


1 x stainless steel or enamel pudding bowl, 4 pints (2.L/10 cups) capacity


Vanilla Ice Cream

4 ozs (110g/1/2 cup) sugar

8 fl ozs (250ml/1 cup) water

4 egg yolks

1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence

2 pints (1.1L/5 cups) whipped cream


Blackcurrant Ice Cream

2 egg yolks

2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) sugar

4 fl ozs (120ml/1/2 cup) water

1/2 pint (300ml/1 1/2 cups) blackcurrant, puree

1 pint (600ml/2 1/2 cups) whipped cream


Strawberry Ice Cream

2 lbs (900g) very ripe strawberries

1/2 lb (225g/1 cup) castor sugar

juice of 1/2 lemon

juice of 1/2 orange

1/2 pint (300ml/1 1/4 cups) water

1/4 pint (150ml/generous 1/2 cup) whipped cream



1/2 lb (225g) whole strawberries

whipped cream and fresh mint leaves


First make the vanilla ice cream. Put the egg yolks into a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy (keep the white for meringues). Combine the sugar and water in a small heavy bottomed saucepan, stir over heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, then remove the spoon and boil the syrup until it reaches the ‘thread’ stage, 106-113°C (223-226°F). It will look thick and syrupy, 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. Add vanilla essence and continue to whisk until it becomes a thick creamy white mousse. Softly whip the cream – it should just hold the print of the whisk. Measure and make sure you have 2 pints (600ml/2 1/2 cups) of whipped cream. Fold the softly whipped cream into the mousse. Put the pudding bowl into the freezer for about 10 minutes, so that it will be icy cold. Line a bowl with the vanilla ice cream in an even layer, put it into the freezer and after about 1 hour take it out and improve the shape if necessary.




Meanwhile make the blackcurrant and strawberry ice cream.

First make the blackcurrant ice cream. Make as the previous recipe to the mousse stage. Add to it a semi-sweet blackcurrant puree. This fruit can be raw and sweetened with a thick syrup or cooked in a syrup. Taste for sweetness after adding to the mousse adding more syrup if necessary. Fold in the cream. Set to freeze.


Next make the strawberry ice cream.

Dissolve the sugar in the water, boil for 7-10 minutes, leave to cool. Puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender, sieve. Add orange and lemon juice to the cold syrup. Stir into the puree, fold the whipped cream into the puree. Freeze in an ice-cream machine or alternatively freeze in a freezer until slushy. Fill the strawberry ice cream into the middle of the bombe, cover the bowl with a plastic clip on lid or cling film and freeze sold, Leave overnight if possible.


To Serve

Unmould the bombe and decorate with fresh strawberries, rosettes of whipped cream and fresh mint leaves. Serve with a strawberry coulis.


Strawberry Coulis


16 ozs (450g) fresh strawberries

2 1/2 ozs (70g/1/2 cup) icing sugar

lemon juice


Clean and hull the strawberries, add to the blender with sugar and blend. Strain, taste and add lemon juice if necessary. Store in a fridge.



Hot Tips


The Wild Atlantic Way

John & Sally Mc Kenna were quick to support the brilliant marketing strategy . The Wild Atlantic Way which highlights the myriad of attractions from Donegal to Kinsale. The new Mc Kenna Guide on where to eat and stay on the Wild Atlantic Way is so full of gems that it was all I could do to resist the temptation to jump into the car and head for Innishowen. I thought I might start at Harry’s restaurant to get a taste of Innishowen and if I made it for Saturday morning I could taste the Slow Food Co breads fresh from the woodfired oven at Harry’s Saturday market – tempted …..


Morito Cookbook


It’s a long while since I came across a cook book where I wanted to cook virtually everything in the book and it didn’t even belong to me, I  borrowed the new Morito cookbook from my daughter’s kitchen three weeks ago and I still haven’t given it back, I even ordered my very own copy. Morita is the baby sister of Moro, Sam & Samantha’s Clarke’s restaurant in Exmouth Market in London. If you haven’t eaten at Moro put it on your London list right away.

Sam and his lovely wife spent several years cooking in the kitchens at the River Café. In 1997 they opened Moro to cook the food they loved  and to introduce their guests to the lesser known flavours of the Mediterranean.  They were newly married and had returned from a camper van research trip through Spain, Morocco and the Sahara, – an enthusiastic young couple on a mission to discover the tiny details that make food taste authentic and not appear to be cooked by an Anglo Saxon.

They also wanted to demonstrate  how the different combination of spices one chooses can add the magical flavours of different continents. They installed a wood burning oven, made their own sour dough bread and yoghurt, set up an allotment, forged links with farmers and producers and built up a super loyal following. They continue to explore,  experiment and play.  In 2010  Morito was opened next door, Sam and Sam describe it as the little noisier more rebellious sibling of Moro, it was greeted with joy and anticipation by their many devotees.

Morito serves a wide selection of tapas and mezze and little plates to nibble and share. The secrets are in Morita cookbook published by Ebury Press. Here is a tantalizing taste of some of their summer salads.



Radish and Pomegranate Salad


This pretty, peppery salad gives sweetness to your table and is excellent alongside fish, chicken or a rich vegetable dish. We slice the vegetables on a mandoline, the thinner they are, the better they absorb the dressing.


Serves 4


Pomegranate Dressing

Freshly squeezed juice of 1 large pomegranate

1 tablespoon Forum Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar or a good quality aged red wine vinegar with a pinch of sugar

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses



150-200g long white daikon (mooli) or black radish, thinly sliced

5 red radishes, sliced into very thin rounds

1 golden beetroot, peeled and very thinly sliced (optional)

1 small kohlrabi, peeled, cut in half and thinly sliced

1 bunch of mint, finely shredded

3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds


The make the fresh pomegranate juice, cut the pomegranate in half and take out the seeds, discarding any bitter skin or white pith. Put the seeds in a sieve and press them with the back of spoon to extract all the juice, discarding any skin or hard seeds. Put all the dressing ingredients into a jam jar with a lid, season with salt and pepper and shake well.

To make the salad, put the radishes, beetroot, if using, and kohlrabi in a bowl, add the mint and pomegranate seeds and pour over the dressing. Mix everything together and serve immediately.


From Morito, Sam & Sam Clarke



Cauliflower, Pine Nuts, Raisins and Saffron


The cauliflower becomes soft and rich from absorbing the flavoursome oil.


Serves 4


4 tablespoons olive oil

1 Spanish onion, sliced

1 small cauliflower, leaves and stalk discarded, separated into florets

1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

A large pinch of ground turmeric

½ teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted and roughly ground

½ teaspoon coriander seeds, roughly ground

4 tablespoons pine nuts

3 tablespoons raisins, soaked in hot water till plump, drained

15 threads of saffron, steeped in 100ml hot water

1 small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped


Heat the oil in a large, wide saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft, golden and sweet.  Add the cauliflower florets, garlic, spices and another pinch of salt. Cook over a medium heat for 10 -1 5 minutes, stirring often.

Now add the pine nuts, raisins and the saffron-infused water. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for a further 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. Stir in half of the chopped coriander and remove from the heat. Serve with the remaining coriander scattered on top.


From Morito, Sam & Sam Clarke


Grilled Onion Salad, Pomegranates and Mint


If we are proud of anything in our books, it is making people think about vegetables in different ways and all their possibilities. This recipe is a good example of that. Charred onions have a beautifully smoky taste and a wonderful velvety texture. Please do try this dish.


Serves 4


4-6 red or white onions

12 quantity of Pomegranate Dressing

Seeds of 1 large pomegranate

2 tablespoons shredded mint


Grill the onions whole and unpeeled over a hot barbecue for 20-30 minutes, until black and charred all over. This method will impart an aromatic smokiness to the dish. Cook slightly, peel and cut into halves or quarters.

Alternatively, if roasting in the oven, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Place the whole onions on a baking ray and cook for 35-40 minutes or until  they have some give but are still slightly firm. You don’t want them to become mushy and lose their colour. Remove from the oven and cool a little. Peel and cut the onions as before and place on a baking tray under a hot grill or on a hot griddle pan and leave until lightly charred.

To serve, transfer the onions whilst still warm to a bowl, pour over the dressing, season with a little salt and pepper and mix gently but make sure the onions are well coated. Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and mint.

From Morito – Sam & Sam Clarke


Beetroot, Almonds and Mint


At Morito we often serve this salad with a few think slices of cecina (Spainish cured beef) or Pastirma. However, it’s so delicious on its own that it is difficult to stop eating.


Serves 4


3 tablespoons blanched almonds or roasted Marcona

700g raw bunched beetroot, peeled and coarsely grated

1 quantity of Pomegranate dressing

2 tablespoons shredded mint

2 tablespoons fresh pomegranate seeds


If using blanched almonds, roast them in the oven at 150C/300F/gas 2, until golden brown. Cool and roughly chop.

Place the grated beetroot in a bowl. Pour the dressing over, then add the almonds, mint and pomegranate seeds. Mix well, taste and serve.


From Morito – Sam & Sam Clarke


Steamed Aubergines with a Peanut Dressing



Serves 4-6


Madhur Jaffrey introduced us to this delectable aubergine recipe from Northern China. It can be served as a starter or as an accompanying vegetable or as a salad. It goes particularly well with cold meats. Madhur urged us to seek out long slim variety of aubergines rather than the larger seedy ones.  We’ve been growing them ever since – the variety is Slim Jim – Look out for them at the Midleton Farmers Market.


560g (1¼ lb) aubergines

50g (2oz) raw peanuts, roasted and ground to a paste in a clean coffee-grinder or 3 tablespoons freshly made peanut butter from a health food shop

50 ml (2fl oz) Chinese light soy sauce

25 ml (1fl oz) Chinese red vinegar (use red wine vinegar as a substitute

15 ml (1fl oz) sugar (use a bit more, if needed)

¼ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine

15 ml (1fl oz) sesame oil

15 ml (1fl oz) garlic, peeled and very finely chopped

15 ml (1fl oz) fresh ginger, peeled and very finely chopped

2 tablespoons green coriander, very finely chopped, both leaves and stems, plus a few extra green coriander sprigs for garnishing


If the aubergines are the long, slim variety, quarter them lengthways, and then cut them into 7.5cm (3inch) long fingers.  If using the more common, fat aubergine, cut it into fingers that are 7.5 x 2.5cm (3inch x 1inch).  Steam over a high heat for 15-20 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, combine all the remaining ingredients except the green coriander in a bowl and mix well.  This is the sauce.

When the aubergine pieces are tender, lift them out carefully and arrange them neatly in a single layer in a large platter.  Stir the sauce.  Add the green coriander to it and mix again.  Pour the sauce evenly over the aubergines.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.  This dish may be prepared ahead of time, covered and refrigerated.  Garnish with the green coriander sprigs just before serving.



Rachel’s Raspberry Upside-Down Cake


Rachel makes this upside-down cake at least every couple of weeks. I love the way the dish starts off as a delicious dessert, ideal for rounding off a family meal. Then the next day (if there’s any leftover!) it turns into the perfect coffee-time treat, to be enjoyed in company or just on your own.


Serves 6–8

50g (2oz/1/2 stick) butter

125g (4 1/2oz/generous 1/2 cup) caster sugar

250g (9oz) fresh or frozen raspberries


For the sponge

150g (5oz/1 1/4 sticks) butter, softened

150g (5oz/generous 1/2 cup) caster sugar

3 eggs

200g (7oz/scant 2 cups) self-raising flour, sifted


25cm (10 inch) diameter ovenproof frying pan (diameter measured at the top)


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


Place the butter in the frying pan and melt over a medium–high heat. Add the caster sugar, stirring to mix, and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, then scatter the raspberries into the pan so that they cover the base in a single layer. Leave to sit while you make the sponge.


In a large bowl, beat the butter until soft, then add the sugar and beat until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the flour. Alternatively, place all the ingredients in a food processor and whiz together briefly until they come together.

Spoon the sponge mixture over the raspberries in blobs, then carefully spread it out to cover the fruit in the pan.


Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes or until the sponge feels set in the centre – a skewer inserted into the middle will come out clean. Allow to sit for 2 minutes, then place a serving plate on top of the pan and, clasping the plate firmly against the pan, carefully flip it over. Lift off the pan to reveal the pudding – now upside down on the plate, with the raspberries on top. Serve warm or at room temperature with perhaps a little cream.



Any leftover cake will keep (covered with a cake cover or an upturned bowl so as not to squash the raspberries) for up to two days






Hot Tips


Clotilde’s Fruit Compotes –

fruit purees in tiny pots from Ballyhoura are worth knowing about – my little grand-daughter Tilly Bird ate a whole pot with her fingers recently. You can buy them at Douglas Farmers Market and some supermarkets


Seek  out the Rocket Man HQ.

Jack Crottys many fans from Mahon Point, Douglas and Wilton Farmers Markets will be delighted to know about his new enterprise – a salad and juice bar in Princes Street, Cork (alongside the English Market) .


Kids in the kitchen –

there was a terrific response to last year’s classes so we are offering another whole series of hands-on cooking courses for kids. They have brilliant fun rustling the pots and pots while they learn a whole repertoire of yummy dishes. For dates and details see –


Past Letters