Book Tokens

There’s always a big flurry of new cookbooks published in time for the Christmas pressie market. You may already have one or two but if perchance you still have a couple of spare gift tokens hanging around, swing by your local bookshop they may have some special after Christmas offers. Here are a few of my favourite 2015 titles.

Several exciting new voices are emerging on the food scene. Anna Jones first book  A Modern Way to Eat published in 2014, really piqued my curiosity. The sequel A Modern Way to Cook is one of my stand out books of the year.

Olia Hercules, another hot new talent, who brings us a taste of  little known East European food . In her new book Mamushka, she casts a spotlight on the food of her native Ukraine and neighbouring countries whetting our appetites with her evocative prose, charming reminisces and super delicious recipes. She completed a diploma in Leith’s in London, did a spell in Italy and an inspirational stint with Yotam and Sami at Ottlenghi in London. Then it was home to record her mum and grandma’s recipes……she followed them round the kitchen with a scales and measuring spoons in an effort to accurately record their pinches,  handfuls and glugs of this and that. I loved this fascinating and enchanting book.

Sabrina Ghayour, a self-taught chef is yet another beauty. Her debut cookbook Persiana has become an instant classic. She was named by the Observer Food magazine as one of the Rising Stars of 2014 and the Evening Standard named her as one of the 1,000 most influential people in London. Sabrina focuses on Persian and Middle Eastern Cooking.  Page after page of tempting, fresh tasting recipes that made me want to dash into the kitchen and roll up my sleeves. If you haven’t already discovered Sabrina, she’s another one to watch and her book Persiana is definitely worth parting with one of your precious gift tokens for.

I love anything Nigel Slater writes and his latest A Year of Good Eating Kitchen Diaries iii doesn’t disappoint. I also loved Sally Clarke’s 30 Ingredients. She’s a beautiful cook – recipes for the sort of food we really enjoy.  Alice Waters’ new book, My Pantry which she wrote with her daughter Fanny Singer is a sweet collection of essays and recipes. A charming little book where they share the simple building blocks that they use to create comforting impromptu meals all year round.

Tartine, Techniques and Recipes by Cortney Burns and Nicolaus Balla is another of my books of the year. Bread baking buffs will already have Tartine, Tartine Bread amd Tartine No. 3, but this book is quite different. Here Cortney and Nicolaus focus on fermented and pickled foods and share the secrets of the experimental journey they’ve been on for over a decade. Last time I was in San Francisco, they took me through the kitchen and pantry where they’re were all manner of things bubbling in barrels and jars in every corner. They were breathless with excitement about their discoveries and the book they were writing and now they have accepted our invitation to join us for the Kerrygold Litfest this year from May 20th -22nd 2016.

According to Tom Tivnan – features editor of trade magazine The Bookseller, the biggest trend so far this year are so called ‘clean eating cookbooks’. Cookbook sales are up this year by 10% plus. An astonishing 13,000 cookbooks were published world of which 1,800 were aimed at the so called ‘healthy eating brigade’. 8/10 books sold in 2015 was aimed at this market.

Ella Woodward’s Deliciously Ella has been the runaway success of the year.

On the Irish publishing scene, there have been several ‘stand out’ books this year. Rachel Allen’s new book Coast to accompany her coastal cooking series has tremendous  appeal as has the long awaited Cooking at the Ballymore Inn  by Georgina O Sullivan. Simple and delicious recipes loved by devotees of Barry and Georgina’s Inn in Ballymore Eustace in Co Kildare.

The K Club Cookbook from producer to plate is an elaborate production,  a handsome hard back which would make a super present for a keen ambitious cook. Donal Skehan’s star continues to rise. His  newest book Fresh has also been warmly received. Last but not least, a book closely connected to rural life, the Irish Country Women’s Association Book of Home and Family, has been a tremendous success.  If you haven’t already got a copy, seek it out for its selection of time honoured favourites.


Georgina O’ Sullivan’s Penang Beef with Fresh Green Chutney

Make this a day or two ahead and the flavours will settle and improve, and it can be kept in the fridge. The tamarind adds a slightly sweet-sour flavour to curries. It’s sold two ways, in blocks of pulp which needs to be mixed with warm water and strained to remove the hard black seeds, or in jars as a concentrated paste.


Serves 8-10 /1 hour preparation and 1½ hours to cook /a little effort


2-3 tablespoons oil

2-3 large onions, finely chopped

3kg shoulder/chuck Irish beef, well- trimmed, cut into finger size strips


Spice Paste

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped

1 tablespoon lemongrass, chopped

3 red chillies, chopped

rind & juice of 2 limes

2 teaspoons sugar

100ml tamarind liquid

half can anchovies



1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon turmeric


100g peanuts, roasted & chopped

2 x 400g cans coconut milk

1 X 400g can chopped tomatoes

salt & black pepper


Fresh Green Chutney

250ml Greek-style yogurt

2 tablespoons mint

2 tablespoons coriander

2 green chillies, chopped



Start with the onions: in a large pan heat a tablespoon of the oil and brown the onions really well. If they are browning too quickly, add a splash of water and continue cooking (you don’t need more oil). When the onions are browned, transfer to a large deep casserole.

Sauté the beef in the same pan with the remaining oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Transfer the beef as it browns to the onions in the casserole dish.

Next blend the spice paste: place all the ingredients in a processor and whiz for a minute. Remove and add to the beef and onions. Then, in a small pan, roast the coriander and cumin seeds, grind in a coffee/spice grinder and add to the casserole with the turmeric, peanuts, coconut milk, tomatoes and seasoning, cover and cook gently for 1 hour 30 minutes or until the beef is tender. Taste for seasoning: you want a good balance of flavours – hot, sour, sweet and salty – garnish with chopped fresh coriander, extra red chilli and peanuts.

To serve: this curry goes well with basmati rice or flatbread  and it goes especially well with fresh green chutney (see overleaf for recipe).


To make the chutney place the yogurt in a bowl. Put the herbs, chillies and salt in the processor with 1 tablespoon of the yogurt. Whiz to a paste, then stir the mixture through the remaining yogurt in the bowl and taste for seasoning.


Cumin Chicken


Georgina O’ Sullivan’s Cumin Spiced Chicken

When cooking this dish, the size of pan is hugely important: if it’s too large, the cooking liquid will evaporate and you’ll have very little sauce at the end of cooking time. If it’s too small, then the flavours won’t have room to mingle. Ideally, the pan should hold all the ingredients comfortably. Over time it is good to build up a variety of different sized pans; sauté pans with lids that are flameproof are the most useful.


Serves 4

30 minutes plus cooking time/easy


1 large Irish free-range Irish chicken

3 tablespoons olive oil

3-4 red chillies, chopped

4-5 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted

1 tablespoon flour

salt & black pepper

450ml stock or water


Start by cutting the chicken into 8 pieces. If you have the time, use the wing tips and backbone to make some stock. Set the oven to Gas 4/180˚C/350°F. Heat a pan with a tablespoon of the oil, add the chillies and garlic and cook gently for a few minutes, set aside. Grind the cumin seeds in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, then take half the cumin and add to the flour in a bowl with the seasoning and mix well. Add the chilli and garlic mixture to the remaining cumin in the mortar and pestle and mix to a paste.

Next coat the chicken pieces in the cumin-seasoned flour, heat the remaining oil in a large pan and brown the chicken on all sides. Add the spice paste and stock, mix well, cover the pan and cook in the oven for 40 minutes, until fully cooked: digital probe 75ËšC. Check the seasoning and serve the chicken with rice, alongside a bowl of mixed salad leaves.


Sally Clarke’s Spiced Pumpkin, Tomato and Chickpea Stew


Although this is a rustic dish, and should therefore look a little ‘homely’ when presented, it is advisable to take care when slicing the vegetables, so that the individual ingredients look uniform in shape and size.


2 kg pumpkin or squash, blue hubbard, crown prince, onion squash or similar

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

½tsp yellow or black mustard seeds

4 cardamom pods

100ml vegetable or light olive oil

2 cloves garlic crushed to a cream

1 small green or red chilli, finely chopped (with seeds if extra heat is preferred)

1 large onion, peeled and finely sliced

2 sticks celery, finely sliced on the angle

1 fennel bulb, finely sliced

1 tsp salt

1 litre vegetable or chicken stock

½ bunch coriander, washed, leaves kept whole and stalks finely chopped

4 large tomatoes

350 g cooked chickpeas (canned are fine)

Large handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped



Wash the pumpkin or squash and cut into large wedges. Remove the tough outer skin and the hard seeds. Cut into pieces the size of a walnut.

In a small pan gently heat all the spices together for a few minutes or until they are fragrant. Do not allow them to burn. Remove the husks of the cardamom and add the seeds to the remaining spices. Crush them together in a pestle and mortar or grind in a spice grinder.

Heat the oil and spices together in a large, heavy-based pan with the garlic and chilli, over a medium heat, stirring continuously to avoid burning.

When the oil starts to become aromatic (approximately 1 –2 min – utes), add the pumpkin, onion, celery and fennel, stir well, coating everything in the infused oil. Add salt and cook together for a few minutes until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the stock and the chopped coriander stalks and cover with a lid. Simmer for up to 20 minutes or until the vegetables have become tender throughout.


Meanwhile blanch the tomatoes for a few seconds in a pan of boiling water. Remove to a bowl of iced water, then peel.

Roughly chop the tomatoes and add to the stew with the chickpeas and continue to simmer for a further 5-10 minutes.

Taste for seasoning and add the parsley and coriander leaves before serving alongside steamed rice, crushed potatoes, baked polenta or just by itself as a robust soup.



Sally Clarke’s Campari, Clementine and Vanilla Sorbet with Clementine Zest Madelines



For the sorbet

100ml water

200 g caster sugar

½ vanilla pod, split lengthwise

600ml freshly squeezed clementine juice (15 –20 clementines)

150ml Campari


For the madeleines

Zest of 3 clementines

2 eggs

110 g caster sugar

110 g flour, plus extra for preparing the tin

90 g melted butter, plus extra for preparing the tin


To make the sorbet. Bring the water, sugar and vanilla pod to the boil and simmer for 5–10 minutes or until some of the vanilla seeds have been released. When cool, scrape a few more seeds into the syrup, rinse the pod and keep for another use. Add the clementine juice to the syrup and then the Campari. Stir well and pour into an ice cream machine and churn following the manufactuer’s instructions. Just before it is firm, scoop into a freezer container and freeze for up to 1 week, although this sorbet will be best served within a few hours. Serve with a warm madeleine on the side.


To make the Madelines

Clementines are not as easy as oranges to zest – as they are softer and smaller – it is tricky to get any ‘purchase’ on the fruit whilst grating the rind. The important part is not to collect any pith as you grate, so slowly and gently does it. Lightly whisk the eggs and sugar with the clementine zest until very frothy. Using the whisk, fold in the sieved flour and then the cooled butter. Leave to rest for up to 30 minutes, covered in a cool place.

Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350°F/gas mark 4. Brush the madeleine moulds generously with soft butter, sprinkle with flour and knock out the excess. This will ensure that the little cakes, once cooked, fall out of the moulds with ease. With a dessert spoon or large teaspoon, scoop the filling into the moulds, almost to the rims. Bake for 10–12 minutes, or until they are puffed and golden. Leave to cool for a few minutes then tap them out of the tin and serve as soon as possible


Bar Tartine’s Overgrown Garden Pickles

Turn to this recipe in late summer when your garden goes into overdrive or when there is a deal on the ugly but delicious vegetables at the farmers’ market. It’s a simple technique that can be used for almost any vegetable, resulting in a glut of pickles to enjoy well into the winter months.


Makes 11.5 litres

Enough whole vegetables such as cucumbers, (flower ends removed), summer squash, onions, carrots, beets, green tomatoes, green beans to fill an 11.5 litre container

280 g (2 cups) kosher salt

7.5 litres (14 pints/8 quart) water

8 garlic cloves

4 shallots, peeled

5 serrano or jalapeno chillies, or any hot chillies from the garden, stemmed

2 bunches of fresh dill

Fresh herb sprigs such as basil, tarragon, parsley or marjoram for garnish

Fennel oil or extra virgin olive oil for garnish


Put all of the vegetables in an 11.5 litre non-reactive container. In a separate non-reactive container, dissolve the salt in the water to make a brine. Transfer about 480 ml (18 fl oz/2 cups) of the brine to a blender; add the garlic, shallots and chillies; process on high speed, pour the puree into the remaining salt brine and stir to mix well. Add the dill bunches to the vegetables, then pour the brine over them. Top the vegetables with a weight to keep them submerged in the brine. Seal the container, using a lid with an airlock, if you have one. If you have sealed it without an airlock, open the container every few days or so to release carbon dioxide build up and check for mould. Place in a clean, well-protected low light area with an ambient temperature  16-20C/60-68F until the pickles taste sour, about 1 month. Refrigerate for up to a year.

To serve – slice the pickles into bit size pieces and return them to the brine. Refrigerate until serving, for up to one year. We like to garnish these pickles with torn garden herbs and fennel oil.


Last week I was asked a seemingly simple question by a food writer – ‘which do you love most – Christmas dinner or the leftovers’, well now, doesn’t that set you thinking…..

Even when you are super organised, Christmas dinner is still quite a mission, but whipping up some recycled leftovers is a more chilled affair entirely. I love the improvisation and creative challenge of incorporating dollops of this and that into something entirely different. Think Asian, Moroccan, Middle Eastern and Mexican as well as traditional favourites.

So let’s think what you might have left over apart from the usual morsels of turkey, ham or goose, maybe plum pudding, stale bread, cranberries, sprouts….

Several of these, eg cranberries can be frozen for another time and the sauce itself (see last week’s recipe) is good for months. Mincemeat has a long shelf life, a year at least and can gradually be used when the fancy takes you. It makes delicious Eccles cakes and Pear, Frangipane and Mincemeat tart, all very morish when served warm. Add a teaspoon of mincemeat to a basic muffin recipe and serve them warm with left over brandy or rum butter, no need to apolgise for that, in fact there could well be a ‘scrap’ to get the last morsel.

Fresh or frozen cranberries can also be added to muffins or a cranberry loaf popped into ice cubes with a fresh mint leaf to enhance Christmas lemonades and sodas. They are also super delicious added to pear compote. Apple and cranberry chutney goes deliciously with pork or some cold duck or goose. Left over bread of all kinds can of course be frozen, made into breadcrumbs for gratins or pannagratto or as a basis for a bread and butter pudding.

We’ve also got delicious recipes for mincemeat and for a Cranberry and Raisin bread and butter pudding.

Brussel Sprouts keep well in a cold larder or a fridge but basically they are best when they are really fresh.  Do try them roasted or shredded into salads or quickly blanched and dressed as a last minute addition to risotto or a pilaff rice with lots of grated Parmesan or Coolea cheese and maybe a few crisp cubes of chorizo or Merquez sausage scattered over the top.

The remains of the ham is a bonus rather than a bother, apart from sandwiches and wraps, it can be eaked out in toasties, croque monsieur and eggs benedict. So here are some more recommendations to whet your appetite and empty out your fridge and pantry in a fun and delicious way


Hot Tips

Watch out for RTE’s Christmas cookery programmes.  My brother Rory O’ Connell and I have just shot two programmes, first of which will be shown on Tuesday December 22nd 2015.

O’ Connell’s Restaurant in Donnybrook, Dublin have the iconic O’ Connell Sherry Trifle back this year. A perfect gift for trifle devotees.  Available in three sizes. The trifle comes in a glass bowl, topped with berries, gift wrapped and ready to serve. Tel: 01 269 6116 or


Eggs Benedict


This recipe is a combination of two forgotten skills: poaching eggs and making Hollandaise sauce (which also involves eggs). It is the perfect breakfast for a lazy weekend.


Serves 4 (or 2 if very hungry)


Hollandaise Sauce (see recipe)

4 organic eggs

4 slices good sourdough bread or 2 English muffins or 2 bagels


4 slices home-cooked ham or 8 rashers good bacon, cooked


First, make the Hollandaise sauce and keep it warm. Poach the eggs. Meanwhile, toast the bread, muffins or bagels. Slather a little butter on the hot bread and lay a slice of ham or freshly cooked crispy bacon on the base. Prop a beautifully poached egg on top and coat generously with the Hollandaise sauce.


Hollandaise Sauce


A classic Hollandaise is based on a reduction of dry white wine, vinegar and finely chopped shallots. In the version we make at the Cookery School we simply emulsify rich butter with egg yolks by whisking and then sharpen with a little lemon juice. Unless you have a heavy-based saucepan, don’t attempt this recipe without a bain-marie. Even on the lowest heat, cooking a Hollandaise sauce in a pot that isn’t heavy-based may scramble the eggs.

Once the sauce is made, it must be kept warm, though the temperature should not go above 80ºC (180ºF), or the sauce will curdle. A thermos flask can provide a simple solution on a small scale; otherwise put the sauce into a Delft or plastic bowl in a saucepan of hot, but not simmering, water. Hollandaise sauce cannot be reheated very successfully so it’s best to make just the quantity you need. If, however you have a little left over, use it to enrich other sauces or mashed potatoes. When it solidifies, it makes a delicious Hollandaise butter to melt over fish.


Serves 4–6

2 organic egg yolks

125g (5oz) butter, cut into dice

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice


Put the egg yolks in a heavy, stainless-steel saucepan on a low heat or in a bowl over hot water. Add 2 teaspoons water and whisk thoroughly. Add the butter bit by bit, whisking all the time. As soon as one piece melts, add the next piece. The mixture will gradually thicken, but if it shows signs of becoming too thick or slightly scrambling, remove from the heat immediately and add a little cold water to cool it quickly. Do not leave the pan or stop whisking until the sauce is made. Finally add the lemon juice to taste.

If the sauce is slow to thicken it may be because you are excessively cautious and the heat is too low. Increase the heat slightly and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens to coating consistency.

It is important to remember that if you are making Hollandaise sauce in a saucepan directly over the heat, it should be possible to put your hand on the side of the saucepan at any stage. If the saucepan feels too hot for your hand, then it is also too hot for the sauce.

Another good tip if you are making Hollandaise sauce for the first time is to keep a bowl of cold water close by so you can plunge the base of the saucepan into it if becomes too hot.


Oaxacan Turkey Soup with Accompaniments

We love this light broth with lots of tasty accompaniment to add in at the table.


Serves 6


1.8 litres (3 pints/7 1/2 cups) well-flavoured, well skimmed and well-seasoned turkey or chicken stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper

225g (8ozs) shredded, cooked or raw turkey or chicken


Tasty Accompaniments

6 medium tomatoes, 5mm (1/4 inch) dice

2-3 ripe Hass avocados, 5mm (1/4 inch) dice

2 medium red onion, 5mm (1/4 inch) dice

3 green Serrano or Jalapeno chillies, thinly sliced

3 limes

3-4 corn tortillas

4-6 tablespoons (5- 7 1/2 American tablespoons) of coriander leaves or coarsely chopped


Put the turkey or chicken stock into a wide saucepan, bring to the boil.  Taste and season, it should have a full rich flavour otherwise the soup with be bland and insipid.

Meanwhile cut each tortilla into 8 ‘chips’.  Heat oil in a deep-fry to 180C.  Cook a few at a time until crisp, drain on kitchen paper.


Just before serving.

Add the shredded turkey or chicken to the hot broth – I sometimes use scraps from the  carcass from the stockpot but it could be raw or cooked, either brown or white meat.  Cooked meat just needs to be reheated in the broth.  Raw white meat will take a few minutes to cook and brown meat a little longer.  Poach it gently so it doesn’t toughen.  Taste again and correct the seasoning.

Ladle into soup bowls.  Provide each guest with a side plate with some diced avocado, tomato, red onions, sliced green chilli, coriander leaves, tortilla chips and a segment of fresh lime to add to their soup as they choose.


Pilaff Rice with Yummy Left Overs


Although a risotto can be made in 20 minutes it entails 20 minutes pretty constant stirring which makes it feel rather laboursome. A pilaff on the other hand looks after itself once the initial cooking is underway. The pilaff is versatile – serve it as a staple or add whatever tasty bits you have to hand. Beware however of using pilaff as a dustbin, all additions should be carefully seasoned and balanced. Here we add turkey and ham.


Serves 8


1 oz (30g/1/4 stick) butter

2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) finely chopped onion or shallot

14 ozs (400g) long-grain rice (preferably Basmati)

32 fl ozs (975ml/4 cups) homemade turkey or chicken stock

salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) freshly chopped herbs eg. parsley, thyme, chives: optional

8 ozs (200 g) cooked turkey, diced

8 ozs (200 g) cooked ham, diced


Melt the butter in a casserole, add the finely chopped onion and sweat for 2-3 minutes. Add the rice and toss for a minute or two, just long enough for the grains to change colour. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, add the turkey or chicken stock, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a minimum and then simmer on top of the stove or in the oven 160C/325F/regulo 3 for 10 minutes approx. By then the rice should be just cooked and all the water absorbed. Just before serving stir in the turkey, ham and fresh herbs. Bubble for a couple of minutes and pour into a large serving dish and serve hot with a good salad of winter leaves.


Basmati rice cooks quite quickly; other types of rice may take up to 15 minutes.


Apple, Celery, Walnut and Turkey Salad

One of the few mixed salad combinations that works really well. The tart combination of apple and celery makes it an excellent counterbalance to rich meats such as duck or pork, and a perfect foil for leftover turkey, or it may be served as a first course on its own.


Serves 6

450-700g (1-1½lb) freshly cooked leftover turkey and shredded crispy skin

1/2 head of fresh crispy celery

225g (8oz) green dessert apples

225g (8oz) red dessert apples

2 tablespoons approx. lemon juice

1 level teaspoon castor sugar

5fl oz (150ml) homemade mayonnaise

2oz (50g) shelled fresh walnuts



sprigs of watercress

freshly chopped parsley


Separate the celery, wash it and chop or julienne the stalks into 1 1/2 inch (4cm) lengths. Put them into a bowl of iced water for 15-30 minutes. Wash and core the apples, and cut into 1/2 inch (1cm) dice.

Make a dressing by mixing the freshly squeezed lemon juice, castor sugar and 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of mayonnaise.  Toss the diced apple in the dressing and let it stand while you prepare the remainder of the ingredients.

Chop the walnuts roughly. Add the celery and the walnuts to the diced apple with the turkey and the rest of the mayonnaise, and mix thoroughly. Taste and correct seasoning.

Garnish with sprigs of watercress and scatter some chopped parsley and the remainder of the chopped walnuts over the centre.



Apple, Celery, Walnut and Fig Salad

Add 4ozs (110g) sliced dried figs to the above recipe with the walnuts.


Apple, Celery, Walnut and Turkey or Chicken Salad

Add 2 cooked and sliced turkey or chicken breasts to the salad with the celery. Serve as a main cours



A croque-monsieur is the quintessential Parisian sandwich.   It’s really no more than a grilled ham sandwich topped with grated cheese, but it appears in many different guises.   Sometimes a croque-monsieur is topped with a thick Mornay sauce, or transformed into a croque-madame with the addition of an egg.


Makes 1

A dab of butter

2 thin square slices best quality white bread (pain de mie in France)

1 slice best quality ham, cut to fit bread

1oz (25g) Gruyère cheese, grated


Preheat the grill.

Butter the slices of bread on one side.  Place the slice of ham on one buttered side and cover with the other slice of bread.

Pop the sandwich under the grill and grill on one side until golden.   Remove, turn and cover the uncooked side with the grated cheese.   Return to the grill and cook until the cheese is bubbling and golden.

Eat immediately while hot – Bon appetit!


Russet Apple with Coolea Cheese, Brussel Sprouts, Hazelnuts and Apple Syrup


This light, simple and refreshing salad has a wonderful Autumn freshness.

Serves 4

2 large Russet of Cox’s Orange Pippin apples

4 Brussels sprouts

12 -16 hazelnuts, toasted and thinly sliced or chopped

4 radicchio leaves

4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) freshly squeezed lemon juice

100g (3 1/2oz) Coolea cheese

4 teaspoons Highbank apple syrup

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Slice the apples and Brussels sprouts very thinly on a mandolin or by hand and place in a wide bowl. Add the hazelnuts and dress very gently with olive oil and lemon juice and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.


Cut the radicchio leaves into strips or pull into bite sized pieces and divide between 4 plates or a large flat serving dish.


Spread the apple, sprout and hazelnut mixture over the radicchio in a single layer.

Peel, thin slices off the cheese using a vegetable peeler or cheese slicer and lay over the salad.


Drizzle 1 teaspoon of apple syrup over each salad and finish with a pinch of sea salt and serve as soon as possible.



Pearl Couscous, Turkey and Dried Cranberry Salad

I’m loving pear cous cous – looks like little bobbles and can be used as a pilaff or as an accompaniment to a meal.


Serves 8


4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil

215g (7 1/2oz/1 cup) pearl couscous

450ml (2 cups) turkey, chicken or vegetable stock

150g (5oz/1 cups) dried cranberries

100g (3 1/2oz/3/4 cup) pine nuts toasted

50g (2oz/1 cup) spring onions, green and white parts thinly sliced at an angle

75g (3oz) approx. 1/2 red onion chopped and washed under cold water

zest of 1 organic lemon

freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon to taste

3-4 tablespoons (4-5 American tablespoons) coriander sprigs

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lb (450 g) cooked, diced brown and white turkey meat and some crispy skin


Heat 2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) of the extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan, add the couscous and stir for 3 or 4 minutes until coated and toasted.  Add the seasoned stock, bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and continue to cook for about 10 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the coucous is al dente.  Drain, toss in the remaining 2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) olive oil and allow to cool.


When cold, add the dried cranberries, toasted pine nuts and chopped and sliced onions.  Add the turkey meat. Grate on the lemon zest over the top, squeeze on some freshly squeezed lemon juice.  Add the coriander leaves, toss, taste and pile into a bowl and serve.



Pear and Cranberry Compote  

Serves 6


6 Pears

225g (8oz) sugar

600ml (1 pint) water

A couple of strips of lemon peel and juice of ½ lemon

150 g (5 ozs/1 cup) of cranberries


Fresh mint leaves

Bring the sugar and water to the boil with the strips of lemon peel in a non-reactive saucepan.  Meanwhile, peel the pears thinly, cut in half and core carefully with a melon baller or teaspoon, keeping a good shape.  Put the pear halves into the syrup, cut side uppermost, add the lemon juice, cover with a paper lid and the lid of the saucepan.  Bring to the boil and simmer until the pears are just soft – the tip of a knife or skewer should go through without resistance. Add the cranberries, cook for 3-4 minutes or until they just burst. Turn into a serving bowl, chill and serve, on their own or with homemade vanilla ice-cream and fresh mint leaves if available.


Cranberry and Apple Jam

This is another dual-purpose jam that can be used as a sweet or savoury accompaniment. Delicious on scones or with curd cheese, cold turkey, ham, pork or venison.


Makes 7 x 450g (1lb) jars

1kg (2lb) Bramley’s Seedling cooking apples

1kg (2lb) cranberries

1.7kg (33⁄4lb) granulated sugar, warmed


Peel, core and chop the apples. Put the chopped apple into a wide, stainless-steel saucepan and add the cranberries and 300ml (1⁄2 pint) of water. Bring slowly to the boil and continue to cook over a medium heat until the apples and cranberries dissolve into a pulp. Add the warmed sugar and stir to dissolve. Increase the heat and cook until it reaches a set. Bottle in sterilised jars and cover while still hot. Store in a cool, dry place.


Mincemeat Cupcakes and Brandy Butter Cream

Makes 12


150g (5oz) soft butter

150g (5oz) caster sugar

150g (5oz) self-raising flour

2 large free-range eggs

2 tabespoons milk

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3-4 tablespoons of mincemeat


Brandy Butter


175g (6oz) butter, softened

150g (6oz) icing sugar

4 tablespoons brandy


Cream the butter, add the icing sugar, beat well.

Finally add the brandy.

1 cupcake tray lined with paper cases

Preheat oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4


Put all the ingredients except milk and mincemeat into a food  processor, whizz until smooth 1-2 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add milk and whizz again for a couple of seconds.  Fold in 3 tablespoons of mincemeat.

Divide evenly between the bun cases, put 1 tablespoon of mixture in each case.

Alternatively, put a half tablespoon of the cake mixture into each case, put about a half teaspoon of mincemeat on top and cover with another half tablespoon of the mixture.

Bake for 20-25 minutes approx.  Allow to cool on a wire rack.


Brandy Butter Cream

Cream the butter, add the icing sugar, beat well.

Finally add the brandy.

Pipe a rosette or blob of brandy butter cream on top and decorate with Christmas fancies.

Christmas Traditional Dinner

Christmas TurkeyPhotographer: Jorg Koster
Christmas TurkeyPhotographer: Jorg Koster

It seems like most of our readers are total traditionalist because the requests have come flooding in for recipes for a time honoured Christmas dinner. Well here we are.

As well as the traditional roast turkey bolstered up with lots of our best loved fresh herb stuffing and all the trimmings, I’ve included a goose with our favourite potato stuffing, lots of gravy and tons of roast potatoes cooked in the goose fat – you’ll need to do twice the amount as they are so crunchy and irresistible. Slow cooked red cabbage will complement the goose deliciously but so too would a dish of cauliflower cheese or creamed celery – a bit 70s but so delicious.

Don’t forget to make a bowl of Bramley apple sauce – all of these vegetables, sauces, herb stuffings can be made ahead to lighten the pressure and work load on Christmas day. Brining the turkey also makes a phenomenal difference to the flavour, (see recipe).

Many families have a favourite starter. We love native Irish oysters as a starter on Christmas day. But I can well understand that they don’t tick everyone’s box.  So how about another timeless favourite,  Grape, Melon and Mint. It’s light and refreshing and loved by everyone from toddlers to aged great aunts.

A green salad is essential after a rich meal. It has the magic potential to make you feel less full so you have room for pudding.

Make it with organic leaves for extra deliciousness and a few foraged greens, a subject for lively conversation.

There’s lots of navelwort or pennywort, wintercress, wood sorrel and watercress in season at present, these little gems are available in the urban areas as well as the countryside.

Christmas Desserts are easy, hopefully you have already make a juicy plum pudding, but if you haven’t managed to get to it,  it’s still not too late to whip it up.  Alternatively, there are still some available – Peter Ward of Country Choice in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, make some of the best one I know and people are also talking about Clare Nash’s puddings…..

We also love to have a trifle, this too actually benefits from being made ahead but wait until Christmas morning to add the final embellishment of cream, cherries, angelica, hundreds and thousands, silver and gold baubles.

A citrus fruit salad would also be an inspired idea, if not for Christmas day certainly on St Stephen’s Day or Boxing Day when despite you’re good intentions you’re probably be feeling a touch bloated.

Either way, have lots of clementines, mandarins, satsumas and walnuts in stock for nibbling.

Leftovers are my absolute favourite, so hopefully there will be some tasty morsels to provide, an opportunity to make some delicious dishes.

Don’t forget a make a turkey stock with the carcass and giblets, it makes the very best broth and basis for warming soups, sauces and stews. We love this turkey broth with orzo, pea and spring onion. There a ton of ways to use up morsels of turkey, ham and goose, that’s if there’s anything left in the carcass after the family have tucked into turkey sandwiches on Christmas evening.

Boxing Day pie is a winner but the mixture can be also be piled into popovers or pastry cases to make yummy bites.

The revised edition of A Simply Delicious Christmas, published by Gill and Macmillan to celebrate it’s 25th anniversary is choc a bloc with traditional  and alternative recipes.


Hot Tips

Watch out for RTE’s Christmas cookery programme s.  My brother Rory O’ Connell  and I have just shot two programmes, first of will be shown on Tuesday December 22nd 2015.

Glebe Gardens in Baltimore, West Cork have an enticing range of Christmas gift vouchers and hamper delights, the website is worth a browse

Friday Night at The Granary Foodstore in Midleton 4th, 11th and 18th December 2015. Casual and family friendly evening menu, the perfect venue for a relaxed bite to eat after the Christmas shopping.  The Granary also has a tempting array of Christmas cakes, Chocolate Biscuit Christmas Pudding, gluten free Christmas cakes and mince pies, hampers…….

Tel: 021 4613366 or email


Everyone around here is looking forward to the East Cork Christmas Market at Garryvoe Hotel on Sunday December 13th from 11.30am-4.30pm.  Delicious Christmas treats, order your Christmas poultry, baking, handmade crafts for the Christmas stocking, face painting and fun for the children. Admission by voluntary donation with proceeds to Cancer Care Support

O’ Connell’s Restaurant in Donnybrook, Dublin have the iconic O’ Connell Sherry Trifle back this year. A perfect gift for trifle devotees.  Available in three sizes. The trifle comes in a glass bowl, topped with berries, gift wrapped and ready to serve. Tel: 01 269 6116 or


Old-fashioned Roast Turkey with Fresh Herb Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce and Bread Sauce

Serves 10-12


Brining the turkey ahead is so worthwhile. It adds immeasurably to the flavour, wrapping it in muslin means you don’t need to baste it during cooking. We are finding a turkey that has previously been brind is taking a little less time to cook.

This is my favourite roast stuffed turkey recipe. You may think the stuffing seems dull because it doesn’t include exotic-sounding ingredients like chestnuts and spiced sausage meat, but in fact it is moist and full of the flavour of fresh herbs and the turkey juices.  Cook a chicken in exactly the same way but use one-quarter of the stuffing quantity given.


(4.5-5.4kg) 1 x 10-12lb, free-range and organic, turkey with neck and giblets



6 litres (10 1/2 pints) water

600g (1 1/4lb) salt


Fresh Herb Stuffing

175g (6oz/3/4 stick) butter

350g (12oz) chopped onions

400-500g (14-16ozs) approx. soft breadcrumbs (check that the bread is non GM) (or approximately 1lb 4oz of gluten-free breadcrumbs)

50g (2oz) freshly chopped herbs eg. parsley, thyme, chives, marjoram, savoury, lemon balm

salt and freshly ground pepper



neck, gizzard, heart, wishbone and wingtips of turkey

2 sliced carrots

2 sliced onions

1 stick celery

Bouquet garni

3 or 4 peppercorns


For basting the turkey

225g (8ozs/2 sticks) butter

large square of muslin (optional)

Cranberry Sauce (see recipe)

Bread Sauce (see recipe)



large sprigs of fresh parsley or watercress


Frist brine the turkey overnight, not essential but it makes for moist, tender and flavourful eat.

*Add the salt to the water and stir to dissolve.  Put the turkey crown into a clean stainless steel saucepan, plastic bucket or tin.   Cover with the brine and a lid and chill for 24 hours.  Drain and dry well.  This is of course optional, but it hugely enhances the flavour of the turkey.

Remove the wishbone from the neck end of the turkey, for ease of carving later. Make a turkey stock by covering with cold water the neck, gizzard, heart, wishbone, wingtips, vegetables and bouquet garni. (Keep the liver for smooth turkey liver pate).  Bring to the boil and simmer while the turkey is being prepared and cooked, 3 hours approx.

To make the fresh herb stuffing: Sweat the onions gently in the butter until soft, for 10 minutes approx., then stir in the crumbs, herbs and a little salt and pepper to taste.  Allow it to get quite cold.  If necessary wash and dry the cavity of the bird, then season and half-fill with cold stuffing.  Put the remainder of the stuffing into the crop at the neck end.

Weigh the turkey and calculate the cooking time. Allow 15 minutes approx. per lb and 15 minutes over. Melt the butter and soak a large piece of good quality muslin in the melted butter; cover the turkey completely with the muslin and roast in a preheated moderate oven, 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4, for 2 3/4-3 1/4 hours.  There is no need to baste it because of the butter-soaked muslin.  The turkey browns beautifully, but if you like it even browner, remove the muslin 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time.  Alternatively, smear the breast, legs and crop well with soft butter, and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  If the turkey is not covered with butter-soaked muslin then it is a good idea to cover the whole dish with tin foil.  However, your turkey will then be semi-steamed, not roasted in the traditional sense of the word.

The turkey is cooked when the juices run clear.

To test, prick the thickest part at the base of the thigh and examine the juices: they should be clear.  Remove the turkey to a carving dish, keep it warm and allow it to rest while you make the gravy.   .

The turkey is done when the juices run clear. To test, prick the thickest part at the base of the thigh and examine the juices, they should be clear. Remove the turkey to a carving dish, keep it warm and allow it to rest while you make the gravy.

To make the gravy: Spoon off the surplus fat from the roasting pan. De-glaze the pan juices with fat free stock from the giblets and bones. Using a whisk, stir and scrape well to dissolve the caramelised meat juices from the roasting pan. Boil it up well, season and thicken with a little roux if you like. Taste and correct the seasoning. Serve in a hot gravy boat.

If possible, present the turkey on your largest serving dish, surrounded by crispy roast potatoes, and garnished with large sprigs of parsley or watercress and maybe a sprig of holly. Make sure no one eats the berries.

Serve with Cranberry Sauce and Bread Sauce


Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce is also delicious served with roast turkey, game and some rough pâtés and terrines. We enjoy this simple Cranberry Sauce best.  It will keep in your fridge for several weeks.  It is also great with white chocolate mousse, as a filling for a meringue roulade.

Serves 6 approximately


175g (6oz) fresh or frozen cranberries

4 tablespoons (60 ml) water

75g (3oz) granulated sugar


Put the fresh cranberries in a heavy-based stainless steel or cast-iron saucepan with the water – don’t add the sugar yet as it tends to toughen the skins.  Bring them to the boil, cover and simmer until the cranberries pop and soften, about 7 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar until dissolved.

Serve warm or cold.


Note: Fresh cranberries keep for weeks on end but also freeze perfectly.

Note:  It should be soft and juicy, add a little warm water if it has accidently over cooked.


Bread Sauce

I love Bread Sauce but if I hadn’t been reared on it I might never have tried it – the recipe sounds so dull!  Serve with roast chicken, turkey and guinea fowl.




600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) whole milk

75-110g (3 – 4oz) soft white breadcrumbs

2 medium onions, each stuck with 6 cloves

35 – 50g (1 1/2 – 2oz) butter

salt and freshly ground pepper

75-110ml (3-4 fl oz/scant 1/2 cup – 1/2 cup) thick cream

2 good pinches of ground cloves or quatre epices


Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3.

Bring to the boil in a small, deep saucepan all the ingredients except the cream. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Transfer to the preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the onion and add the cream just before serving. Correct the seasoning and add a little more milk if the sauce is too thick. Serve hot.

Note: The bread sauce will keep in the fridge for several days – the remainder can be reheated gently – you may need to use a little more milk.

Quatre Epices is a French spice product made of equal amounts of ground white pepper, cloves, nutmeg and ginger.


Traditional Roast Goose with Potato Stuffing and Bramley Apple Sauce


Roast Goose with Potato Stuffing is almost my favourite winter meal.  However, a word of warning.  A goose looks enormous because it has a large carcass.  Many people have been caught out by imagining that it will serve more people than it does.  Allow 450g (1 lb) in cooked weight per person.  This stuffing is also delicious with duck but use one quarter of the quantity given below.

Serves 8-10


4.5g (1 x 10 lbs) approx. goose



Neck, giblets and wishbone of goose

1 sliced onion

1 sliced carrot


Bouquet Garni

a sprig of thyme

3 or 4 parsley stalks

a stick of celery

6 or 7 peppercorns

cold water to cover


Potato Stuffing

30g (1 oz/1/4 stick) butter

450g (1 lb/4 cups) chopped onions

450g (1 lb) cooking apples e.g. Brambley Seedling, peeled and chopped

1 fl oz (25ml/1/8 cup) fresh orange juice

900g (2 lbs) potatoes

1 teaspoon each thyme and lemon balm

3 teaspoons finely grated orange rind

salt and freshly ground pepper


To make the stuffing: Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan.  Add the onions, cover and sweat on a gentle heat for about 5 minutes; add the apples, herbs and orange juice.  Cook covered until the apples are soft and fluffy.  Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in their jackets until cooked, peel, mash and add to the fruit and onion mixture.  Add the orange rind and seasoning.  Allow it to get quite cold before stuffing the goose.


To prepare the goose: Gut the goose and singe off the pin feathers and down if necessary.  Remove the wishbone from the neck end.  Combine the stock ingredients in a saucepan, cover with cold water and simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours.  Season the cavity of the goose with salt and freshly ground pepper; rub a little salt into the skin also.  Stuff the goose loosely and roast for 2 hours approx. in a preheated moderate oven, 180°C/350°F/regulo 4.

Prick the thigh at the thickest part; the juices which run out should be clear.  If they are still pink, the goose needs a little longer.  When cooked, remove the goose to a serving dish and put it in a very low oven while you make the gravy.

To make the gravy: Spoon off the surplus fat from the roasting tin (save for sauteeing or roasting potatoes – it keeps for months in a fridge).  Add about 1 pint (600ml/2 1/2 cups) of the strained giblet stock to the roasting tin and bring to the boil.  Using a small whisk, scrape the tin well to dissolve the meaty deposits which are full of flavour.  Taste for seasoning and thicken with a little roux if you like a thickened gravy.  If the gravy is weak, boil it for a few minutes to concentrate the flavour; if it’s too strong, add a little water or stock.  Strain and serve in a hot gravy boat.

Carve the goose and serve the Bramley Apple Sauce and Gravy separately.


Rose Geranium and Bramley Apple Sauce

1lb (450g) cooking apples, (Brambley Seedling)

1-2 dessertsp. (2-4 American teasp) water

2oz (55g/â…“ cup) sugar approx. depending on tartness of the apples

2-4 rose geranium leaves

Peel, quarter and core the apples, cut pieces in two and put in a stainless steel or cast iron saucepan with the sugar, water and rose geranium leaves.  Cover and put over a low heat.  As soon as the apple has broken down, stir and taste for sweetness.  Serve warm with the duck, goose or roast pork.


Turkey, Orzo, Pea and Spring Onion Broth

This broth can be the basis of a flavoursome light soup to use up delicious morsels of cooked poultry.

Serves 6


1 litre (1 ¾ pints)well-flavoured turkey, chicken or pheasant stock

pinch of chilli flakes (optional)

50g (2oz) orzo pasta

2 tender stalks celery, finely sliced at an angle

150 – 175g (5 – 6 oz) shredded cooked turkey, chicken or pheasant

110g (4oz) frozen peas

4 – 6 spring onions, sliced at an angle

lots of fresh coriander and/or fresh mint


Bring the stock to the boil; add the orzo, celery and chilli flakes. Cook for approximately 10 minutes or until the pasta is just cooked, add the peas and shredded turkey. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, correct the seasoning. Ladle into soup bowls, sprinkle with lots of spring onion and fresh coriander and/or mint.


St Stephen’s or Boxing Day Pie 

Try to keep some left-over turkey and ham for this delicious pie – it’s the most scrumptious way to use up left-overs and can be topped with fluffy mashed potatoes or a puff pastry lid.

Serves 12


900 g (2lbs) cooked organic or free-range turkey, white and brown meat and crispy skin

450 g (1lb) cooked ham or bacon

30 g (1oz) butter

1-2 teasp. grated fresh ginger (optional)

340 g (12oz) chopped onion

225 g (8oz) flat mushrooms or button if flats are not available

1 clove of garlic – crushed

900 ml (30 fl.oz) well flavoured turkey stock or 568ml (20 fl oz) stock and 300 ml/10 fl.oz) turkey gravy

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 tablespoon chopped chives

2 teaspoons fresh marjoram or tarragon if available

150 ml (¼ pint) cream

450 g (1lb) puff or flaky pastry or 900g (2lb) Duchesse or mashed Potato

2 x 1.1 L/2 pint) capacity pie dishes with a lip.


Cut the turkey and ham into 1 inch (2.5 cm) approx. pieces and shred the crispy skin.  Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan, add the chopped onions and ginger if using, cover and sweat for about 10 minutes until they are soft but not coloured.  Meanwhile wash and slice the mushrooms.  When the onions are soft, stir in the garlic and remove to a plate.  Increase the heat and cook the sliced mushrooms, a few at a time.  Season with salt and freshly-ground pepper and add to the onions and garlic.  Toss the cold turkey and ham in the hot saucepan, using a little extra butter if necessary; add to the mushrooms and onion.  De-glaze the saucepan with the turkey stock.  Add the cream and chopped herbs.  Bring it to the boil, thicken with roux, add the meat, mushrooms and onions and simmer for 5 minutes.  Taste and correct the seasoning.

Fill into the pie dishes, and pipe rosettes of potato all over the top.  Bake in a moderate oven, 190C/375F/regulo 5, for 15-20 minutes or until the potato is golden and the pie is bubbling.

Alternatively, if you would like to have a pastry crust, allow the filling to get quite cold.  Roll out the pastry to about 1/8-inch (3 mm) thickness, then cut a strip from around the edge the same width as the lip of the pie dish.  Brush the edge of the dish with water and press the strip of pastry firmly down onto it; wet the top of the strip again.  Cut the pastry into an oval just slightly larger than the pie dish.  Press this down onto the wet border, flute the edges of the pastry with a knife and then scallop them at 1 inch (2.5 cm) approx. intervals.  Roll out the trimmings and cut into leaves to decorate the top.  Make a hole in the centre to allow the steam to escape while cooking.

Brush with egg wash and bake in a preheated oven, 250C/475F/regulo 9, for 10 minutes; then turn the heat down to moderate, 180C/350F/regulo 4, for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is cooked through and the pie is bubbling.

Serve with a good green salad.

Turkey and Ham Frittata

Serves 6-8

My eternal standby.

A frittata is an Italian omelette.  Unlike its soft and creamy French cousin, a frittata is cooked slowly over a very low heat during which time you can be whipping up a delicious salad to accompany it!  It is cooked on both sides and cut into wedges like a piece of cake.  This basic recipe, flavoured with grated cheese and a generous sprinkling of herbs.  Like the omelette, though, you may add almost anything that takes your fancy.  One could substitute grated mature cheddar but Gruyére and Parmesan give you more ‘bang for your buck’ and all sorts of tasty bits from the fridge, smoked salmon, mackerel, chorizo, bacon or ham……..


10 large eggs, preferably free range organic

1 teaspoon salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper

75g (3ozs) Gruyére cheese, grated

25g (1oz) Parmesan cheese, grated

2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) parsley, chopped

2 teaspoons thyme leaves

25g (1oz/1/4 stick) butter

2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) basil or marjoram chopped


To Serve

Rocket leaves

Tomato and Coriander Salsa (see recipe)


Non-stick pan – 22.5cm (10inch) frying pan

Whisk the eggs in a bowl, add the salt, freshly ground pepper, fresh herbs, diced ham and grated cheese into the eggs.  Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan. When the butter starts to foam, tip in the eggs.  Turn down the heat, as low as it will go.  Leave the eggs to cook gently for 12 minutes on a heat diffuser mat, or until the underneath is set. The top should still be slightly runny.

Preheat a grill. Pop the pan under the grill for 1 minute to set but not brown the surface.  Alternatively after an initial 3 or 4 minutes on the stove one can transfer the pan to a preheated oven 170ºC/325ºF/gas mark 3 until just set 15-20 minutes.

Slide a palette knife under the frittata to free it from the pan. Slide onto a warm plate.

Serve cut in wedges, arrange some rocket leaves on top of the frittata and top with a blob of tomato and coriander salsa or alternatively you can serve with a good green salad and perhaps a tomato salad.


Ham & Cheese Frittata

Add 225g (8oz) diced cooked ham or bacon or a mixture of cold turkey and ham to the frittata and cook as above.


Darina Allen's Traditional Sherry Trifle
Darina Allen’s Traditional Sherry Trifle

Mum’s Traditional Irish Sherry Trifle

Trifle was a Christmas tradition at our house and was served in a special “cut glass” bowl kept especially for the purpose.  Our mother Elizabeth O’Connell’s trifle was legendary, she made huge bowls of trifle at Christmas, with trifle sponges, (later she used sponge cakes when they were unavailable), home-made raspberry jam and custard, and lots and lots of good sweet sherry.   She had to become more and more inventive about hiding places, because the boys would search high and low to find it when they arrived in from a night out on the town.  Eventually she hid it in her wardrobe to keep it intact for Christmas Day.

This is now a favourite item on my brother Tom O’Connell’s dessert menu at O’Connell’s in Donnybrook.


Serves 8-10


450g (1lb) approx. homemade sponge cake or trifle sponges (see recipe)

(trifle sponges are lighter so you will need less)

225g (8oz) homemade raspberry jam

600ml (1 pint) custard made with:

5 eggs, organic and free-range if possible

1 1/4 tablespoons castor sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

750ml (1¼ pint) rich milk

150-175ml 5-6 fl.oz) best quality sweet or medium sherry

– don’t spare the sherry and don’t waste your time with cooking sherry.



600ml (1 pint) whipped cream

8 cherries or crystallised violets

8 diamonds of angelica

a few toasted flaked almonds


1 x 1.7 litre (3 pint) capacity glass bowl

Sandwich the rounds of sponge cake together with homemade raspberry jam. If you use trifle sponges, sandwich them in pairs.


Next make the egg custard.

Whisk the eggs with the sugar and vanilla extract.  Heat the milk to the ‘shivery’ stage and add it to the egg mixture whisking all the time.   Put into a heavy saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until the custard coats the back of the wooden spoon lightly. Don’t let it boil or it will curdle.

Cut the sponge into 2cm (3/4 inch) slices and use these to line the bottom of a 1.7 litre (3 pint) glass bowl, sprinkling generously with sherry as you go along.   Pour in some homemade egg custard and then add another layer of sponge.  Sprinkle with the remainder of the sherry.  Spread the rest of the custard over the top.  Cover and leave for 5 or 6 hours, or preferably overnight in a cold larder or fridge to mature.

Before serving, spread softly whipped cream over the top, pipe rosettes if you like and decorate with cherries or crystallised violets and large diamonds of angelica.  Scatter with a few toasted flaked almonds.


For a posher version, line the glass bowl with slices of swiss roll.


Great Grandmother’s Butter Sponge

A buttery sponge cake was standard fare to serve with afternoon tea at my Grandmother’s house in Donoghmore, Co. Kilkenny and a great many other Irish houses also. When it was taken out of the oven of the Aga it was cooled on a wire rack by the window in the back kitchen. Thick yellow cream spooned off the top of the milk in the dairy was whipped and as soon as the cake was cool it was sandwiched together with homemade jam made from the raspberries picked at the top of the haggard.  This is the best sponge cake you’ll ever taste.


175g (6oz) flour

175g (6oz) castor sugar

3 eggs, organic and free-range

125g (4½ oz) butter

1 tablespoon milk

5g (1 teaspoon) baking powder



110g (4oz) homemade raspberry jam

300ml (10 fl.oz) whipped cream

castor sugar to sprinkle

2 x 18cm (7 inch) sponge cake tins


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

Grease the tine with melted butter, dust with flour and line the base of each with a round of greaseproof paper. Cream the butter and gradually add the castor sugar, beat until soft and light and quite pale in colour. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well between each addition. (If the butter and sugar are not creamed properly and if you add the eggs too fast, the mixture will curdle, resulting in a cake with a heavier texture). Sieve the flour and baking powder and stir in gradually. Mix all together lightly and add 1 tablespoon of milk to moisten.

Divide the mixture evenly between the 2 tins, hollowing it slightly in the centre. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until cooked – the cake will shrink-in slightly from the edge of the tin when it is cooked, the centre should feel exactly the same texture as the edge.  Alternatively a skewer should come out clean when put into the centre of the cake. Turn out onto a wire tray and allow to cool.

Sandwich the two bases together with homemade raspberry jam and whipped cream. Sprinkle with sieved castor sugar. Serve on an old fashioned plate with a doyley.


Raspberry Jam

Makes 3 x 450g (1lb) pots

Raspberry jam is the easiest and quickest of all jams to make, and one of the most delicious.  Loganberries, Boysenberries or Tayberries may also be used in this recipe.


900g (2lb) fresh raspberries

900g (2lb) white sugar (use 110g/4oz) less if fruit is very sweet)


Wash, dry and sterilise the jars in a moderate oven 180°C/350°F/regulo 4, for 15 minutes. Heat the sugar in a moderate oven for 5-10 minutes.

Put the raspberries into a wide stainless steel saucepan and cook for 3-4 minutes until the juice begins to run, then add the hot sugar and stir over a gentle heat until fully dissolved. Increase the heat and boil steadily for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Test for a set by putting about a teaspoon of jam on a cold plate, leaving it for a few minutes in a cool place. It should wrinkle when pressed with a finger. Remove from the heat immediately. Skim and pour into sterilised jam jars. Cover immediately.

Hide the jam in a cool place or else put on a shelf in your kitchen so you can feel great every time you look at it! Anyway, it will be so delicious it won’t last long


Turkey, Ham and Mushroom Popovers

This is little gem of a recipe is an excellent standby, it can be made in seconds, the ingredients are inexpensive, sweet or savoury fillings work.


For 14 popovers


4 ozs (110g/1 cup) flour

2 eggs

10 fl ozs (1/2 pint/300ml/1 1/4 cups) milk

1/2 ozs (15g/1/8 stick) butter, melted



See Boxing Day Pie recipe

Parsley sprigs


Sift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the centre of the flour, drop in eggs.  Using a small whisk or wooden spoon, stir continuously, gradually drawing in flour from the sides and, add the milk in a steady stream at the same time.  When all the flour has been mixed in, whisk in the remainder of the milk and cool melted butter.  Allow to stand for one hour.  Grease Hot Deep Patty Tins with pure beef dripping or oil and fill half full.  Bake in a hot oven 230°C/450°F/regulo 8, for 20 minutes approx.

Remove from the tins.  Cool, fill with hot turkey, ham and mushroom filling. Pop a sprig of flat parsley on top of each one and serve ASAP.

Cheese Popovers: Add 2 ozs (50g) grated Cheddar cheese and 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard and a good pinch of salt to the mixture, season well and proceed as above

Christmas Baking

Can you imagine I got my first Christmas card on the third of November, that has to be a record….Christmas is creeping up on us, not slowly but with great speed and even though we may long to opt out of the whole palaver or hide away until all the frenzy is over. It’s simply not an option, so once again, we’ll enter into the spirit of the season wholeheartedly. If you’re thinking of serving a fine free range turkey or goose for Christmas dinner, put in your order right away. Beautifully reared organic and free range birds are difficult to source for various reasons not least the lack of slaughtering facilities and support for artisan poultry producers – can you imagine that  we don’t have one single poultry instructor in Ireland at present despite the craving for a product we can trust with a memorable flavour. Order a fine fat ham too from a free range heritage pig producer, this kind of food costs much more that the food of the same  name on the supermarket counter shelf. Often twice the price but it does take much longer to rear with much more expensive GM free and organic feed.

When those orders are in, you may want to make a plump juicy Christmas cake and a couple of gorgeous crumbly plum puddings. Despite the mystique neither are difficult to make. So allocate an afternoon. Buy top quality dried fruit, real crystallized cherries (those bright red ones are fake, most were never near a cherry in real life) and candied peel. We make our own which may seem to be a step too far – I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but a lot of the chopped candied peel is also fake, made from a gelatinous product rather than citrus peel.

So here’s the recipe, you can make it slowly over several days, it’s a brilliant way to use up left over orange,  lemon and lime peel and of course it makes a lovely present for foodie friends who can use it in cakes or puddings or simply dipped in chocolate as a petit four or sweetmeat.

Even though a lovely moist Christmas cake is a great stand by, not everyone wants a big cake. My favourite Christmas cake can be made in a 9 inch round or 2 x 7 inch tins. The second one will make a welcome present for busy friends.. We also make some ‘little dotes”, 4 inch cakes as presents for older friends who love a little cake but don’t want anything too large which lingers on after Christmas making them feel a tad guilty.

Stir about Sunday is on the last Sunday before Advent, Sunday November 22nd, but even if we have missed that why not gather up some of your kids and their friends and create an exciting party atmosphere around the making of the Christmas cake and pudding. Everyone can help, lining the tin, make a wish as they stir the pudding and cake and best of all you’ll be passing on the cooking skills to another generation. For the many who feel making a Christmas cake, a pudding, mincemeat is beyond them believe me the pudding and mincemeat are simply a matter of mixing ingredients in a bowl, hardly ‘rocket science’ for even the least undomesticated goddess.


Hot Tips

Nash 19 are now taking orders for their Christmas Hampers. Don’t forget their plum pudding packed with delicious fruit and whole cherries. Claire Nash will be in Terroirs on Morehampton Road in Dublin on Saturday 5th December from 12 noon with her plum puddings, call in to taste a juicy morsel. Contact Claire or Mairead on 021 4270880 or email

Country Choice in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, huge stocks of ingredients for Christmas baking have arrived.  Peter Ward sources supberb  quality dried fruit, nuts and real cherries. He also has a stall at the Milk Market in Limerick every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Phone 067 32596 or

Looking for a special Christmas present, don’t forget Ballymaloe Cookery School vouchers can be tailored in a variety of ways to create the perfect gift for the food lover or garden enthusiast in your life! Cooking is one of the most important skills a person can learn and the best bit is the Cookery School vouchers last indefinitely.

Fishy Fishy restaurant in Kinsale is hosting a series of Pop Up lunches over the coming months. Noel McMeel of Lough Erne Resort will create a special 5 course lunch on Wednesday 9th December. Tickets are €50 and can be booked or 021 4700415

Just discovered a brilliant new source of free range duck. Jacqui Mason who comes from Heredforshire in the UK, found it difficult to find good duck when she came over to Ireland so she decided to rear some duck herself and  now rears 75 free range Alysbury ducks every week and sells them to local restaurants and butchers (quite different from ‘farm fresh’) including Jack McCarthy Butchers, Kanturk, O’ Sullivans Poultry at the English Market


087 22 33113



Candied Peel 

The fruit used in this recipe should be organic if possible; otherwise scrub the peel very well. Use just one citrus fruit, or a mixture of all three.

5 organic unwaxed oranges

5 organic unwaxed lemons

5 organic unwaxed grapefruit

1 teaspoon salt

1.3kg (3lb) sugar


Cut the fruits in half and squeeze out the juice. Reserve the juice for another use, such as homemade lemonade. Put the halves of fruit into a large bowl (not aluminium), add the salt and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for 24 hours.

Next day, discard the soaking water, put the fruit in a saucepan and cover with fresh cold water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer very gently until the peel is soft, about 3 hours. Remove the fruit and discard the water. Scrape out any remaining flesh and membranes from inside the cut fruit, leaving the white pith and rind intact. Slice the peel into long strips or leave whole if you prefer.

Dissolve the sugar in 700ml (11⁄4 pints) of water, bring to the boil, add the peel and simmer gently for about 30–60 minutes, until it looks translucent and the syrup forms a thread when the last drop falls off a metal spoon. Remove the candied peel with a slotted spoon and fill into sterilised glass jars. Pour the syrup over the peel, cover and store in a cold place or in a fridge. It should keep for 6–8 weeks, or longer under refrigeration.



In Caster Sugar

Spread the peel on a baking tray  and leave to sit for 30–60 minutes to cool and dry out. Then toss the peel in caster sugar and store in covered glass jars until needed.


To Nibble

Cut the candied peel into 5mm–1cm (1⁄4–1⁄2 in) slices, roll in caster sugar and serve with coffee.


Chocolate Candied Orange

Dip the strips of candied orange peel into melted dark chocolate. Arrange individually on a sheet of silicone paper and leave to set.


Ballymaloe Mincemeat

This is still my favourite mincemeat recipe.

Makes 3.2 kilos approx. Makes 8-9 pots.


2 cooking apples, eg. Bramley Seedling

2 organic lemons

450g (1lb) beef suet, (see below)

pinch of salt

110g (4oz) mixed peel (preferably homemade)

2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) Seville orange marmalade

225g (8oz) currants

450g (1lb) sultanas

790g (1lb 12oz) Barbados sugar (moist, soft, dark-brown)

62ml (2 1/2fl oz/generous 1/4 cup) Irish whiskey


Core and bake the whole apples in a moderate oven, 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4, for 30 minutes approx. Allow to cool.  When they are soft, remove the skin and mash the flesh into pulp.  Grate the rind from the lemons on the finest part of a stainless steel grater and squeeze out the juice and stir into the pulp.  Add the other ingredients one by one, and as they are added, mix everything thoroughly.  Put into sterilized jars, cover and leave to mature for 2 weeks before using.  This mincemeat will keep for a year in a cool, airy place.


How to make  Beef Suet

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

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

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


Suet – How to Prepare

To prepare suet, start by asking your butcher for the fat that surrounds beef kidneys.

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


BMaloe Plum Pudding

Mummy’s Plum Pudding with Mrs. Hanrahan’s Sauce

It has always been the tradition in our house to eat the first plum pudding on the evening it is made.   The grandchildren can hardly contain themselves with excitement – somehow that plum pudding seems the most delicious, it’s our first taste of Christmas.   The plum pudding can be made from about mid-November onwards. Everyone in the family helps to stir so we can all make a wish.

Its fun to put silver plum pudding charms in the pudding destined to be eaten on Christmas Day.  Wrap them individually in silicone paper so they are bulky and clearly visible.

This recipe makes 2 large or 3 medium puddings.  The large size will serve 10-12 people, the medium 6-8 but I also like to make teeny weeny ones.


12oz (350g/2 cups) raisins

12oz (350g/2 cups) sultanas

12oz (350g/2 cups) currants

10oz (300g/1cups) brown sugar

12oz (350g/6 cups) white breadcrumbs (non GM)

12oz (350g/3 cups) finely-chopped beef suet

4oz (110g/ cup) diced candied peel (preferably home-made)

2 Bramley cooking apples, coarsely grated

4oz (110g/3/4 cup) chopped almonds

rind of 1 lemon

3 pounded cloves (1/2 teaspoon)

a pinch of salt

6 eggs

2 1/2 fl oz (62ml/generous 1/4 cup) Jamaica Rum


Mix all the ingredients together very thoroughly and leave overnight; don’t forget, everyone in the family must stir and make a wish!  Next day stir again for good measure.  Fill into pudding bowls; cover with a double thickness of greaseproof paper which has been pleated in the centre, and tie it tightly under the rim with cotton twine, making a twine handle also for ease of lifting.

Steam in a covered saucepan of boiling water for 6 hours.  The water should come half way up the side of the bowl.  Check every hour or so and top up with boiling water if necessary.  After 5 hours, 3 hours, 2 hours depending on the size, remove the pudding.   Allow to get cold and re-cover with fresh greaseproof paper.  Store in a cool dry place until required.

On Christmas Day or whenever you wish to serve the plum pudding, steam for a further 2 hours.  Turn the plum pudding out of the bowl onto a very hot serving plate, pour over some whiskey or brandy and ignite.  Serve immediately on very hot plates with Brandy Butter.

You might like to decorate the plum pudding with a sprig of holly; but take care not to set the holly on fire – as well as the pudding!


Mrs. Hanrahan’s Sauce

This recipe is so delicious that people ask to have more Plum Pudding just so that they can have an excuse to eat lots of sauce.  This makes a large quantity but the base will keep for several weeks in the fridge, so you can use a little at a time, adding whipped cream to taste.


4oz (110g/1 stick) butter

7oz (200g/scant 1 cup) Barbados sugar  (moist, soft, dark-brown sugar)

1 organic free-range egg

2 1/2 fl oz (62ml/generous 1/4 cup) medium sherry

2 1/2 fl oz (62ml/generous 1/4 cup) port

2 1/4-2 1/2 pints (1.3-1.4L/5 5/8-6 1/4 cups) lightly whipped cream


Melt the butter, stir in the sugar and allow to cool slightly.  Whisk the egg and add to the butter and sugar with the sherry and port.  Refrigerate.

When needed, add the lightly whipped cream to taste.

This sauce is also very good with mince pies and other tarts.


Children's Christmas Cake
Children’s Christmas Cake

Darina Allen’s Iced Christmas Cake

This makes a moist cake which keeps very well. It can either be made months ahead or, if you are frenetically busy then it will still be delish even if made just a few days before Christmas – believe me I know!.

Serves about 40


110g (4oz) real glacé cherries

50g (2oz) whole almonds

350g (12oz) best-quality sultanas

350g (12oz) best-quality currants

350g (12oz) best-quality raisins

110g (4oz) homemade candied peel (see recipe)

50g (2oz) ground almonds

zest of 1 organic unwaxed lemon

zest of 1 organic unwaxed orange

60ml (21⁄2 fl oz/generous 1/4 cup) Irish whiskey

225g (8oz/2 sticks) butter

225g (8oz/1 cup) pale, soft-brown sugar or golden caster sugar

6 organic eggs

275g (10oz) flour

1 teaspoon mixed spice

1 large or 2 small Bramley seedling apples, grated


Line the base and sides of a 23cm (9 inch) round, or 20cm (8 inch) square tin with a double thickness of silicone paper. Then tie a double layer of brown paper around the outside of the tin. Have a sheet of brown or silicone paper to lay on top of the tin during cooking.

Wash the cherries and dry them gently. Cut in two or four as desired. Blanch the almonds in boiling water for 1–2 minutes, then rub off the skins and chop them finely. Mix the dried fruit, nuts, ground almonds and grated orange and lemon zest. Add about half of the whiskey and leave for 1 hour to macerate.


Preheat the oven to 160°C/ 325°F/gas mark 3.

Cream the butter until very soft. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Whisk the eggs and add in bit by bit, beating well between each addition so that the mixture doesn’t curdle. Mix the mixed spice with the flour and stir gently into the butter mixture. Add the grated cooking apple to the plumped up fruit and stir into the butter mixture gently but thoroughly (don’t beat the mixture again or you will toughen the cake).

Put the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Make a slight hollow in the centre, dip your hand in water and pat it over the surface of the cake – this will ensure that the top is smooth when cooked.

Now lay a double sheet of brown paper on top of the cake to protect the surface from the direct heat. Bake for 1 hour. Then reduce the heat to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2 and bake for a further 21⁄2 hours, until cooked; test in the centre with a skewer – it should come out completely clean. Pour the remainder of the whiskey over the cake and leave it to cool in the tin.

Next day, remove the cake from the tin. Do not remove the lining paper but wrap the cake in some extra greaseproof paper and tin foil until required.

Store in a cool, dry place; the longer the cake is stored the more mature it will be.


Almond Paste and Cake Icing

I ice the Christmas cake above with almond icing and decorate it with heart shapes made from the almond paste. Then I brush it with whisked egg yolk and pop it in the oven – simply delicious!.


Serves about 40


450g (1lb/2 cups) golden caster sugar

450g (1lb) ground almonds

2 small organic eggs

2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) Irish whiskey

a drop of pure almond extract


For Brushing on the Cake

1 organic egg white, lightly whisked, or sieved apricot jam


For the Fondant Icing

1 packet fondant (450g/1lb)


Sieve the caster sugar and mix with the ground almonds. Whisk the eggs, add the whiskey and 1 drop of almond extract, then add to the other ingredients and mix to a stiff paste. (You may not need all of the egg).

Sprinkle the worktop with icing sugar, turn out the almond paste and work lightly until smooth.

Remove the paper from the cake. To make life easier for yourself, put a sheet of greaseproof paper onto the worktop and dust with some icing sugar. Take about half the almond paste and roll it out on the paper: it should be a little less than 1cm (1⁄2 inch) thick.

Paint the top of the cake with the egg white or apricot jam and put the cake, sticky-side down, onto the almond paste. Give the cake a thump to ensure it sticks and then cut around the edge. If the cake is a little round-shouldered, cut the almond paste a little larger; pull away the extra bits and keep for later to make hearts or holly leaves. Use a palette knife to press the extra almond paste in against the top of the cake and fill any gaps. Then slide a knife underneath the cake or, better still, underneath the paper and turn the cake the right way up. Peel off the greaseproof paper.

Then roll out 2 long strips of almond paste: trim an edge to the height of the cake with a palette knife. Paint both the cake and the almond paste lightly with egg white or apricot jam. Then press the strip against the sides of the cake: do not overlap or there will be a bulge with the uneven edge upwards. Trim the excess almond paste with a long-bladed knife and keep for decoration and to make almond biscuits. Use a straight-sided water glass to even the edges and smooth the join. Then rub the cake well with your hand to ensure a nice flat surface.

Leave in a cool, dry place for a few days to allow the almond paste to dry out; otherwise the oil in the almonds will seep through the fondant icing.


To fondant ice.

Sprinkle a little icing sugar onto the worktop.

Roll out the sheet of fondant to a thickness of a scant 5mm (1⁄4 inch).

Paint the cake with egg white or apricot jam, then gently lift the sheet of icing and lay it over the top of the cake so it drapes evenly over the sides.

Press out any air bubbles with your hands, then trim the base. Decorate as you wish. We use a little posy of winter leaves and berries including crab apples, elderberries, rosemary, old man’s beard and viburnum.

That’s just one option. You could also add simple shapes stamped out of the remaining fondant icing – stars, holly leaves, Santa’s – to produce an impressive result. If you are really creative, the fondant may be coloured using edible food colouring and then you and all the family can really have fun!



Toasted Almond Christmas Cake

If you’d rather not have fondant icing, the almond paste can be toasted and will keep just as well and be irresistible to nibble. Roll out the remainder of the almond paste to about 5mm (1⁄4in) thick. Stamp out star shapes, paint the whole surface of the cake with whisked egg yolk and stick the star shapes at intervals around the sides of the cake and on top. Brush these with egg yolk also.


Preheat the oven to 220°C/ 425°F/gas mark 7.

Carefully lift the cake onto a baking tray and bake for 15–20 minutes or until just slightly toasted. Remove from the oven, leave to cool and then transfer onto a cake board.

Decorate with sprigs of holly and a dusting of icing sugar, though you may feel that holly leaves and berries made of almond paste would be more appropriate for Christmas!


‘Little Dote’ Christmas Cakes

Makes 8 little cakes


225g (8oz) butter

225g (8oz) pale soft brown sugar

6 eggs

285g (10z) flour

1 teaspoon mixed spice

35ml (2½ fl.oz) Irish whiskey

340g (12oz) best-quality sultanas

340g (12oz) best-quality currants

340g (12oz) best-quality raisins

110g (4oz) cherries

110g (4oz) homemade candied peel

55g (2oz) ground almonds

55g (2oz) whole almonds

Rind of 1 lemon

Rind of 1 orange

1 large or 2 small Bramley Seedling apples, grated


Grease and line 8 tins 4 inch (10cm) diameter x 1½ inch (4cm) deep.  (We used springform tins from the Ballymaloe Shop)

Wash the cherries and dry them.   Cut in two or four as desired.   Blanch the almonds in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, rub off the skins and chop them finely.  Mix the dried fruit, nuts, ground almonds and grated orange and lemon rind.  Add about half the whiskey and leave for 1 hour to macerate.

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas 3.

Cream the butter until very soft, add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Whisk the eggs and add in bit by bit, beating well between each addition so that the mixture doesn’t curdle.  Mix the spice with the flour and stir in gently.  Add the grated apple to the fruit and mix in gently but thoroughly (don’t beat the mixture again or you will toughen the cake.)

Divide the mixture between the 8 prepared tins.  Make a slight hollow in the centre, dip your hand in water and pat it over the surface of each cake: this will ensure that the top is smooth when cooked.  Put into the preheated oven, bake at 160C/325F/gas 3, for 1½ hours – until cooked; test in the centre with a skewer – it should come out clean.  Pour the rest of the whiskey over the cakes and leave to cool in the tins.

Next day remove from the tins.  Do not remove the lining paper but wrap in some extra greaseproof paper and tin foil until required.


To ice the cakes –

To brush on the cake:

1 egg white, lightly beaten


Almond Paste – to ice the tops of the cakes

8oz (225g) ground almonds

8oz (225g) castor sugar

1 small egg

A tiny drop of pure almond essence

1 tablesp Irish whiskey


Sieve the castor sugar and mix with the ground almonds.  Beat the egg, add the whiskey and 1 tiny drop of pure almond essence, then add to the other ingredients and mix to a stiff paste.  (You may not need all the egg.) Sprinkle the worktop with icing sugar, turn out the almond paste and work lightly until smooth.

Remove the paper from the cakes.

Put a sheet of greaseproof paper onto the worktop, dust with some icing sugar.  Roll the almond paste out on the paper; it should be a little less than ½ inch (1cm) thick.  Paint the top of each cake with the lightly beaten egg white and put the cake, sticky side down onto the almond paste.  Make sure the almond paste sticks to the cake and then cut around the edge and tidy and smooth the almond paste.   For the ‘little dotes’ we just iced the top of the cakes.

Leave to dry overnight before applying Royal or Fondant Icing.


Royal Icing

1lb (450g) icing sugar

2 egg whites

2 teasp. Strained lemon juice

Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl just until they begin to froth; then add the sieved icing sugar by the tablespoonful, beating well between each addition.  If you are making the icing in a electric mixer, use the lowest speed. When all the icing sugar has been incorporated, add the lemon juice, and if you would like a slightly soft icing, add a few drops of glycerine.   Beat until the icing reaches stiff peaks; scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Cover the bowl with a damp cloth for 1 hour or until you are ready to use the icing.

With a flexible palette knife, smear the icing over the top of each cake.   To achieve a snow-scene effect dab the palette knife onto the cake at irregular intervals so the icing comes up in little peaks.  While the icing is still wet, stick on some Christmas Cake decorations, eg Santas, Christmas trees and robins or if you prefer use some frosted fruits or flowers.

If you like you could tie a ribbon or cake frill around the edges of the cakes.


Sheridan’s Cheese


I’ve recently been given a copy of Counter Culture, the Sheridan’s Guide to Cheese. I simply can’t put it down. What a gorgeous book, for me a romp down memory lane.  A long overdue overview of the Irish farmhouse cheese industry, an appreciation of the charismatic, passionate and often deliciously eccentric people who has devoted their lives to producing beautiful cheeses from the milk of their dairy herds. Cow, goat and sheep’s milk cheese of many types that have helped in no small way to change the image of Irish food both at home and abroad. One after another they have won top prizes in cheese awards not just in these islands but also in the World Cheese Awards.

Is it any wonder that our cheeses are so good when we can grow grass here in Ireland like nowhere else in the world, consequently  many of our very best foods come from our rich lush pastures and summer milk. And who better to write this book but the Sheridan brothers, Kevin and Seamus Sheridan who established Sheridan’s Cheesemongers in 1995 with a cheese stall at the Galway Saturday Market. Their enthusiasm and deep knowledge charmed even the most reluctant passer-by to taste their latest find and gradually they converted the ardent Calvita eaters into farmhouse cheese lovers. Since then, the business has expanded to include four shops, a wine bar with a carefully choosen list to complement their wide range of Irish, British and European cheese. There’s a thriving wholesale and export business. The brothers’ food and business ethos is still firmly rooted in the simplicity of their first market stall. Their passion for food and respect for those who produce it has led them to be at the forefront of an exciting revival in Ireland’s culinary heritage. Seamus and Kevin are tireless advocates for sustainable food and farming. They are both devotees of the Slow Food Movement. I always remember my first meeting with Seamus at Slow Food Terra Madre in Turin in the 1980’s. He bounced up to me all tousled hair and big grin with a distinctively cheesey smell emanating from his rucksack. He proudly showed me the deliciously ripe Cashel Blue cheese he’d brought all the way from Tipperary to share proudly with Carlo Petrini and entice him and many other cheese makers to come to Ireland to taste the growing number of farmhouse cheeses and artisan products.

This book written in collaboration with Catherine Cleary of Irish Times tells the lovely story of the boy’s childhood, their inspirational parents and the experiences that shaped them, holidays spent milking cows, turning hay, digging turf, chewing dillisk, experiences which gave them a deep appreciation of real food.

And it’s not just about Irish farmhouse cheese. The chapters on the Origins of our Dairy Culture and the Science of Cheese are fascinating and you’ll soon be an expert on the differences between fresh cheeses, blooming rinds, washed rind, pressed uncooked cheeses and the pressed blues cooked cheeses.

There are some great photos and recipes for Kevin, Seamus and Catherine’s favourite ways to showcase the beautiful cheeses.


Hot Tips

Book of the Week – vegan was a word scarcely understood by the general public a decade or so ago but now regularly discussed in the media as more and more people stop eating animal products for ethical and health reasons.

A vegan diet is not just vegetarian but also excludes all dairy products, eggs and anything derived from animals or insects including honey. Many have espoused this way of eating in recent years including Bill Clinton, Al Gore, actress Natalie Portman say how much better and more energetic they feel.

The Vegan Bible by Marie Laforêt, published by Grub St,  has over 500 tempting recipes which illustrates the richness and diversity of vegan gastronomy.


Handmade imported ceramics – Jenny Rose of The Sandwich Stall in the English Market has started to sell pottery wholesale….beautiful handcrafted Puglian, Spanish and Tunisian pieces… looks great.

Jenny-Rose, The Old Creamery, Toons Bridge, Macroo, Co Cork


Martry Mill is located on the River Blackwater near Kells, Co Meath and is a traditional watermill run by the Tallon family producing stoneground wholemeal flour of exceptional quality and flavour.

Contact James Tallon 086 817 3205 or for list of stockists.


Past students Paul McVeigh and Jamie O’Toole are gathering rave reviews with their delicious food but in particular their signature dish the featherblade steak at Featherblade on Dawson Street, Dublin. Try the crispy confit chicken with hot Korean sauce, garlic and chilli prawns on toasted sourdough….


Baked Camembert with Apple Crisps and Calvados Syrup

As the nights get chillier there’s nothing better than bringing a whole baked Camembert in its box to the table, oozing creamy warmth. This recipe also celebrates the sweetness of the apple season to set us up for winter.

Serves 4 as a meal or 6 as an after dinner alternative to a cheeseboard


For the apple crisps

3 medium-sized apples, peeled and cored

2 tablespoons sunflower oil

2 tablespoons maple syrup

a pinch of salt flakes


For the cheese

1 whole Camembert in its box

2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced into thin slivers

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

olive oil for drizzling

30ml maple syrup

2 tablespoons Calvados


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

Cut the apples into thin, round slices as finely as you can (a mandolin works brilliantly). Place some parchment paper on a baking sheet and lay the slices on top – be careful that they don’t overlap (you may need several baking sheets).

Mix the sunflower oil, maple syrup and salt together in a bowl and drizzle this over the apple slices.

Bake in the oven for 10–15 minutes, until the edges are brown and crimped. Remove from the oven – they will crisp up as they cool.

While the crisps are baking, unwrap the Camembert and slice off the top rind. You can discard this or eat it on a cracker if you like, as a cook’s perk. Place the cheese back in its box and press the garlic slivers, fennel seeds and rosemary sprigs into it. Finally, drizzle a little olive oil over the top.

While the apple crisps cool, bake the cheese in its box on a baking tray in the oven for up to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the maple syrup and Calvados together in a small saucepan over a medium heat and bring them to the boil. Boil gently for two minutes, stirring.

Arrange the apple crisps around the baked Camembert and drizzle the Calvados syrup over the hot cheese to serve.


Taleggio Tartiflette

It’s no coincidence that tartiflette is a classic après-ski dish. It’s a rib-sticking, cockle-warming lump of a meal, best used as a reward after strenuous activity. But it’s so delicious you can simply take a smaller helping if your step count doesn’t warrant a heftier one.

Serves 4


1kg (2¼ lb) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm dice

rapeseed oil

2 thick rashers smoked streaky bacon, cut into 4cm dice

1 large onion, peeled and diced

½ glass Eight Degrees Brewing Barefoot Bohemian Pilsner Lager

350g (12 oz) Taleggio,

diced 1 garlic clove, peeled and cut in half

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6

Boil the potatoes for 3–5 minutes until just tender and then drain them and season with salt and pepper.

Heat a good splash of rapeseed oil in a large, heavy pan over a gentle heat. Fry the potatoes for a minute or two and then add the diced bacon and onion. Cook until the bacon has begun to crisp.

Pour in the Pilsner, stir and then add the cubed cheese. (You could also add some spinach, chard or kale at this stage.)

Remove the pan from the heat. Prepare an ovenproof earthenware dish by rubbing it well with the halves of garlic and greasing with rapeseed oil. Empty the contents of the pan into the dish and bake for 20–30 minutes, until the cheese has melted and begun to crisp.


Durrus and Potato Pizza

This lets the rind sing! Potatoes on pizza might sound a bit much but they’re surprisingly good. The trick is to slice them very thinly and only use a single layer so they don’t make everything too claggy and thick.


Serves 6


375ml (13 fl oz) warm water

1 teaspoon dried yeast

110ml (3½ fl oz) olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

600g (1¼ lb) 00 flour

3 sprigs of fresh rosemary

6 cloves garlic

2 medium Rooster potatoes, peeled

1 large sweet potato, peeled

250g (9 oz) crème fraîche

360g (12½ oz) Durrus, sliced


To make the dough, pour the water into a jug and mix in the yeast, smoothing it against the sides to ensure it’s dissolved. Add 50ml of the olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt to the liquid. Pour into a bowl with the flour and mix to form a dough. Leave for 10 minutes. Turn the dough on to an oiled surface and knead lightly until it comes together. Put it back in the bowl, cover and leave for 90 minutes to prove.

Meanwhile, remove the leaves from the rosemary sprigs and combine in a mortar and pestle with the garlic and a pinch of salt. Bash this into a paste and then add the remaining olive oil. Transfer the entire mixture to a saucepan and heat the oil gently for about 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the oil to infuse with the garlic and rosemary flavours.

Roll out the dough and dimple it with your fingers.

Fold it over like a sheet on itself and dimple again before rolling and repeating this a second and third time. Return the dough to the bowl to rest for a further 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into three and roll into rounds or rectangles, whichever you prefer. Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425°F/gas mark 7 – or as high as it will go!

Finely slice the potatoes and sweet potato into paper thin rounds and arrange them on the pizza bases in a single layer. Dot the potatoes and sweet potato with blobs of crème fraîche and place the slices of Durrus in between the blobs.

Finally, drizzle the pizzas with the garlic and rosemary oil and give them a good sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper.

You can strain out the rosemary shards or leave them in, whichever you prefer. Bake the pizzas for 10 minutes and serve immediately.


Salad of Mozzarella, Poached Pears, Air-dried Lamb and Hazelnut

A beautiful salad that bridges the gap between summer and winter. The secret to this recipe is a good balsamic vinegar and fresh mozzarella. We are lucky to have buffalo mozzarella from Toby Simmonds’s Toons Bridge Dairy in Co. Cork delivered fresh to our shops.


Serves 6


2 or 3 pears, peeled, halved and cored

750ml (25½ fl oz) water

½ vanilla pod

100g (3½ oz) sugar

½ cinnamon stick

1 large buffalo mozzarella, torn into shreds or chopped

150g (5 oz) Connemara air-dried lamb, thinly sliced and cut into small shreds (if you can’t find air-dried lamb you could use a good prosciutto)

100g (3½ oz)  mixed leaf salad

50g (2 oz) hazelnuts, toasted and chopped


For the vinaigrette

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon mustard


Place the pears in a large saucepan with the water, the seeds from the vanilla pod, the sugar and the cinnamon. Poach the pears over a medium heat until soft. Leave to cool in the syrup. Once cooled, slice the pears and combine on a large serving plate with the mozzarella, lamb and leaves.

Whisk the vinaigrette ingredients together in small bowl and, just before serving, drizzle over the salad and then sprinkle with the toasted hazelnuts.





South Africa

Just back from a hectic few days in Capetown, whizzing from one speaking engagement to the next. The food scene has changed out of all knowing in the past decade. Luke Dale-Roberts Test Kitchen, beside the Old Biscuit Mill in shabby chic Woodstock, has a Michelin star and is racked 28th in the world on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Guests book up to 6 months ahead to savour Luke’s super slick, multi element, small plates. Across the road The Pot Luck Club is headed up by Wesley Randles and his bright young team. This more casual eatery was jam packed too and turning the tables several times over even on a Monday night.

La Colombe out in the Silvermist Wine estate gets similar rave reviews and once again tables are full of guests from all over the world who have booked their tables months in advance for this ultra ‘fine-dining’ restaurant.

I was fortunate indeed that a dear friend Alicia Wilkinson of Silwood Cookery School whose brilliantly trained students work in all these kitchens managed to secure a table in each of the restaurants so I had the opportunity to sample some of the most talked about places first hand but I have to tell you I wouldn’t have a notion how to reproduce much of the highly acclaimed food we ate. More accessible for me was the food at the Chefs Warehouse Canteen on 92 Bree Street, the place to go in Capetown for tapas for two. You can’t book but punters are totally happy to queue for Irish/Aussie chef Liam Tomlin’s delicious Asian inspired tapas in this relaxed canteen style restaurant with a kitchenware and bookshop tucked onto side and a street food take away outlet on the other. The walls in the canteen are lined with narrow shelves, teaming with irresistible exotic deli ingredients, I had to buy some Khoisan organic sea salt, Rio Grande olive oil, Richard Von Geusau chocolates, Korean red pepper….

The menu changes every day and sometimes several times a day. Beautiful fresh ingredients with multi ethnic flavours served on wooden boards in a variety of mini copper bowls, clay pots, rustic pottery dishes, steaming baskets, clay plates Spanking fresh fish and shellfish, slow cooked meats, shoots and roots, seaweeds and ferments, salad leaves and foraged greens, all delectably balanced, irresistible to look at but not over worked. Menus are written on rice paper, clipped onto sushi mats.

The food was super delicious. I particularly loved a calamari, roast corn and curry mayo dish with tiny strips of dry chilli and fresh coriander leaves and a pea and mint risotto. Bree St was not an area on many people’s radar up to a year or so but jot it down on your Capetown list if you reckon you’ll be going that way, then seek out Jason’s bakery. It’s open from 7am-3pm. Don’t miss the bacon croissants. Up the street there are three little gems side by side, The Culture Club, a super little cheese shop and café painted buttercup yellow. Next door at Bacon on Bree, Richard Brosnan cures proper bacon from Duroc and large white pigs and again sells all things bacon in shop and little café including bacon ice cream.

One door more and it’s Mothers Ruin – brothers Mark and Rob Hêre offer over 40 gins, many artisan made gins from micro distillers, so much excitement on the drinks scene.  The Orphanage Cocktail Emporium is one of the originals in Bree Street, a hipster cocktail joint which also sells a couple of small plates like Truffle Chips with Wasabi Aioli and pizza. (not listed on the menu’s website).

The weather of course was beautiful. I also popped into the newly restored Company Garden and met manager Rory Phelan from Inistymon in Cork. These were the gardens of the Dutch East India Company who first started the garden in 1652 for the victualing of their ships that plied the spice trade route between Europe and the East Indies, via The Cape of Good Hope.


Hot Tips

The newly founded Slow Food North West Convivium are hosting their inaugural event on Sunday 22nd November at the Irish Organic Centre, outside Rossinver, in County Leitrim, 12 to 5pm.  Talks on sea salt harvesting, a beer tasting and Glen Wheeler from McNean House will give cookery demo. Don’t miss the tour of the Organic Centre tunnels…..Contact Aisling Stone for further details or

Have you discovered Wilton Farmers Market yet? Every Tuesday from 10.00am-2.30pm.  It’s just across the road from CUH. There’s a wide range of fresh produce from local farmers, cheese makers, spanking fresh fish and shellfish, fermented and raw foods and delicious food to enjoy right there -  don’t miss Lolo’s fresh steak sandwiches and French crêpes. Ballycotton Mackerel with hollandaise, chantrelle mushrooms with wild sorrel…..Exciting and nourishing local food for local people.

Jerusalem Artichokes are back in season. They look like knobbly potatoes and are packed with natural inulin. One of the very best foods to enhance our gut flora and so delicious. Kids love them roasted and we find new ways to enjoy them all the time including sunchoke ice cream. Find them at Midleton, Mahon Point and Wilton Farmer’s Markets

Wild Food of the Week – Winter Cress or Bittercress (cardamine hirsute) is lush and beautiful right now, it grows in little bunches in soil and gravelly patches. As with all cress, the top leaf is always the largest and the leaves get smaller down along the stem. Delicious in salads or as a garnish for an appetizer

The Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland are very excited to welcome James Wong of BBC Gardeners World. He will give a talk ‘Grow for Flavour’ on Wednesday 25th November, 8pm at the Talbot Hotel, Stillorgan, Dublin  Tickets €25, for more information



The Apple Brack recipe that appeared on Saturday 31st October had an error. The recipe called for soaking the fruit in 1 pint of hot tea for 1½-2 hours. There is no tea required in the apple brack recipe


Potted Shrimp


Potted shrimp, crayfish and crab are always on our deli menu at Canteen and often appear on the tapas board.

It is a nice way to serve shellfish bound in flavoured butter that melts once spread over warm toast. The butter can be flavoured to suit your taste with chilli and cayenne pepper if you prefer the shrimps with a bit of heat or something more delicate such as tarragon and chervil.

Serves 4


400 g (14 oz) shrimp meat

grated zest and juice of ½ lemon

1 spring onion, finely sliced

1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely sliced

300 g (11 oz) unsalted butter

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 sprigs fresh thyme


Combine the shrimp meat, lemon zest and juice, spring onion and parsley together and season to taste with salt, freshly ground pepper and cayenne pepper.

Pack the shrimp between 8 small ramekins or glasses.

Place the butter, garlic and thyme in a heavy-based saucepan and melt over a low heat. Remove from the heat and allow the garlic and thyme to infuse the butter. Strain the butter through a fine sieve and discard the garlic and thyme.

Pour the melted butter over the shrimp to cover the entire surface of the shrimp. Refrigerate the shrimp until the butter solidifies.

When ready to serve remove the shrimp from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature for 30 minutes. Serve with hot toast and a small green salad.



Prawn in Potato Waistcoasts with Curry Salt

Serves 4


vegetable oil for deep-frying

12 slices of large potatoes, sliced lengthways

12 prawns, peeled and deveined with tail on

salt and freshly ground pepper

corn flour, mixed to a thick paste with cold water

10 g (½ oz) curry powder

4 lemon wedges


Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy based saucepan over medium heat to 110 °C. Add the potato slices and cook without colour until they are almost cooked. Remove the potato slices from the oil with a slotted spoon taking care not to break them. Lay the slices out on a tray lined with greaseproof paper with a space between each one so that they do not touch each other. Set aside until ready to use.

Lightly season the prawns with salt and freshly ground pepper. Lay a potato slice on a clean work surface and brush the edges with the corn flour paste. Place a prawn tail at one end of the potato and roll the potato tightly around it.

Repeat with a second slice of potato so that the whole prawn is covered with potato, leaving the tail exposed. Secure the potato with a small cocktail stick. Prepare the remaining prawns in the same way. Refrigerate until ready to cook



Beetroot Cured Salmon


Serves 8


240 g (9 ozs) demerara sugar

15 g (3/4 oz) crushed black peppercorns

35 g (1½ oz) crushed juniper berries

80 ml dark rum

50 g (2 oz) dill with stalks, roughly chopped

zest of 3 lemons

1 kg (2¼ lb) raw beetroot, peeled and grated

1 kg (2¼ lb) piece of fresh salmon, pin boned and trimmed with skin on


Horseradish Cream

50 g (2 oz) freshly grated horseradish

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

pinch of sugar

100 ml (3½ fl oz) whipping cream

salt and freshly ground pepper


Fennel and Lemon Salad

2 small heads of fennel with fronds removed and chopped

15 ml extra virgin olive oil

freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste

salt and freshly ground pepper


Place the sugar, peppercorns, juniper berries, rum, dill, lemon zest and beetroot in a stainless steel bowl and mix together. Spread a large piece of cling film out on a clean work surface and place the salmon flesh-side up in the centre of the cling film. Spread the marinade evenly over the surface of the salmon and enclose in the cling film. Wrap the salmon in a sheet of aluminium foil to prevent seepage and place in the refrigerator for 3 – 4 days, depending on the thickness of the salmon.

Drain-off any excess liquid from the salmon daily and rewrap tightly. When ready, using the back of a knife scrape the marinade off the salmon and gently wipe the surface with a clean, damp kitchen cloth.

To carve the cured salmon, using a sharp, thin-blade knife, make an incision through the flesh at the narrowest end of the salmon. Hold the skin tightly in your hand and work the knife from side to side between the flesh and skin, working the knife towards the opposite end, at the same time pulling the skin with the other hand. With the tip of a knife remove the dark blood line from each slice before serving. Cut the salmon into cubes to expose the salmon flesh.

If you cannot find fresh horseradish buy a good quality horseradish sauce. To two parts horseradish sauce add 1 part whipped cream for a mild flavoured sauce. To make the horseradish cream, place the ingredients into a chilled, stainless-steel bowl and whisk to ribbon stage. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make the fennel salad, slice the fennel as thinly as possible, preferably on a mandolin. Place in a bowl and dress with the olive oil and lemon juice. Add the chopped fennel frond and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Arrange the fennel between 8 chilled plates. Place the salmon on top of the fennel and spoon a little of the dressing over the salmon. Make a quenelle of horseradish cream


Pulled Pork and Pomelo Salad


Serves 4


2½ tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp peanut oil

1 tbsp sugar

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced

1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped

pinch of sea salt

1 kg (2¼ lb ) roast pork belly (see below) shredded with your fingers into thin strips

1 head of frisée, picked and washed

1 small punnet bean sprouts

1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

2 spring onions, finely sliced

6 water chestnuts, sliced thinly

4 pomelos, peeled and segmented

50 g (2 oz) peanuts, roasted and roughly chopped

1 small bunch mint, picked

1 small bunch coriander, picked

1 small bunch basil, picked deep-fried shallots to garnish


To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, fish sauce, oil, sugar, chilli, garlic and salt.

In a large bowl, combine the pulled pork, frisée, bean sprouts, basil, red onion, spring onion, water chestnuts, pomelo segments, chopped roasted peanuts, mint and coriander. Pour the dressing over the ingredients and toss to coat evenly. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the deep fried shallots.


Pork belly is a great cut of meat for either roasting or to confit. We sell both confit pork belly and pork belly rillettes in our deli, which are both made from the same cut of meat. When we have cooked the confit belly we gently lift it out of the fat and place it between two greaseproof paper-lined trays and press it with an even weight and refrigerate it overnight so it can firm up before we cut it into even-sized blocks, making it easier to pan-fry and carve. The trimmings from the confit belly get shredded and turned into rillette and are packed into sterilised jars and then covered with a thin layer of the cooking fat to help preserve them and give them a longer shelf life. The roast, confit and rillette are always on the tapas menu in either a broth, salad or as a filling for a won ton or spring roll.

Slow roast belly pork improves by brining it first for anything from 24 hours to 3 days giving the meat a finer texture. To brine a pork belly, place the pork in a tight fitting container and cover with cold water. Pour off the water and measure it. For every litre of water add 180 g salt.

Place the salted water into a heavy-based saucepan and place over a medium heat until the salt has dissolved.

Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Pour the brine over the pork belly and refrigerate for 24 hours to 3 days. 12 hours before cooking drain and dry the meat. Soak overnight in fresh water.


Serves 4


2 kg (4½ lb) pork belly

2 tbsp sea salt

1 tbsp freshly ground pepper

2 tbsp peanut oil

200 ml (7 fl oz) soy sauce

4 tbsp brown sugar

2 star anise

2 cinnamon sticks, broken up

3 cm ginger piece, peeled, thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 spring onion, sliced


Preheat the oven to 240 °C/450°F/gas  mark 8. . Score the pork rind at 1 cm intervals. Place the pork in a deep, heavy-based roasting tray. Rub half of the salt and the ground pepper into the rind. Sprinkle the remaining salt over the pork. Roast for 20 – 30 minutes or until the skin has crackled. Remove the pork from the oven and add the soy sauce, 200 ml (7 fl oz) cold water, sugar, star anise, cinnamon, ginger, garlic and spring onion to the tray. Reduce the temperature to 180 °C/350°F/gas mark 4 and cook for a further 70 – 80 minutes until the meat is tender. Carve the meat and serve with garnish of your cho



Doughnuts with Lemon Syrup


Serves 6



250 g (9 oz)  plain flour, sieved

1 tsp salt

25 g (1 oz) castor sugar

15 g fresh yeast

40 ml whole milk

1 large free-range egg, lightly beaten

40 g (1¾ oz) soft, unsalted butter, diced

extra flour for dusting

canola oil for deep frying


Lemon Syrup

300 g (11 oz) castor sugar

100 ml (3½ fl oz) water

40 ml lemon juice

20 g (¾ oz) glucose

1 vanilla pod, split and scraped


Combine all of the lemon syrup ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan and place over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to use.

To make the doughnuts: place the flour, salt and sugar in an electric mixing bowl fitted with a dough hook. Mix slowly until the ingredients are thoroughly blended. Crumble the yeast into the milk and crush it with the back of a spoon to dissolve.

Pour the yeast into the bowl and continue to mix. Add the egg and increase the speed of the mixing bowl and continue to mix until the dough comes together in a ball and cleans the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the butter piece by piece until fully incorporated. Check the consistency of the dough; if it seems too wet, add a little more flour.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and place in the fridge to prove overnight or leave to stand at room temperature for 1 ½ – 2 hours until the dough has doubled in size.

Heat the oil in a deep, heavy-based pan to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5.

Remove the dough from the bowl. Knock back and knead the dough for 4 – 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface. Shape the dough into quenelles using two teaspoons, or spoon the dough into a piping bag fitted with a wide, plain nozzle and hold it above the hot oil. Squeeze gently, snipping the dough with scissors into small, even, rounded pieces as it drops into the oil.

Deep-fry the doughnuts, turning them with a slotted spoon until they are evenly golden brown in colour (approximately

1 minute on each side). Remove the doughnuts from the oil using a slotted spoon and place them into the lemon syrup and leave for a few minutes to soak up the syrup.

Home – Trish Deseine

Trish Desiene

A really posh new book celebrating Irish food and cooking has just arrived on my desk. HOME: Recipes from Ireland is Trish Deseine’s new book, and it feels like a love letter to her home country.

Trish was born and educated in Belfast and grew up on a beef farm in Co. Antrim. In the 1980’s she “escaped” to the University of Edinburgh to read modern languages, and from there to Paris in 1987 where she lived for almost three decades soaking up the ambience and the food culture. This absence from Ireland has given her a unique understanding and perspective of what has shaped our Irish food culture, erasing “the last traces of that knee-jerk bigotry that a hard-line, almost Presbyterian, upbringing tried to drum into me”.

Until the 1960s, the English conquest and the great famines of the 1840s were the two main factors that shaped Ireland’s food culture. In earlier times Ireland’s rich fertile soil and temperate climate afforded excellent tillage, flavourful livestock and dairy products, and an abundance of game, fish and shellfish.

By the 1840s the Irish population had grown to 8 million, but over-reliance on the potato meant that over a million died from starvation by the end of the century, and several million more fled the country contributing to the huge Irish diaspora around the world.

“The notion of food as a sociable or physical pleasure during the years of recovery after the famines was a difficult one for the Irish to assimilate, as was the idea of an indigenous fine cuisine. For the ordinary people living on the land, food meant survival, and growing sufficient amounts was a prerequisite to regaining control of their farms. In those days there were only two “twists” on native Irish dishes – enough or not enough…..Fast forward to 2015, and post Celtic Tiger, super tech-savvy Ireland has caught right up with the rest of the world as it goes crazy for food. Thanks to the internet and cheap airfares, the nation has become fluent in the language of food as aspirational lifestyle, status symbol or fashion statement. Our appetite for world trends in restaurants is as large as that of any other developed country…”

Trish has included many favourite recipes from her childhood in Co. Antrim but at the same time, in full-on “returning native” mode, several signature dishes of top Irish chefs using our beautiful Irish ingredients – all superbly and evocatively photographed by Deirdre Rooney. This stylish, beautiful coffee-table book is an important addition to the growing number of books celebrating both our traditional and emerging Irish food culture.


Recipes for Article HOME Recipes from Ireland

Name of Book: HOME Recipes from Ireland

Author: Trish Deseine

Photographer Deirdre Rooney

Stylist: Trish Deseine

Publisher: Hachette



Derek Creagh’s Baby White Turnip Soup at Harry’s Bridgend


For 4


5 minutes preparation

20 minutes cooking

1 kg (2¼ lb) baby white turnip flesh

250 g (9 oz) butter

1 large potato, peeled and finely sliced

1 cooking apple, finely sliced

3 onions, finely sliced

1 bottle of Stonewell cider

400 ml (14 fl oz) milk

Rosemary and thyme

600 ml (1 pint) water or stock

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and sweat the onion, white turnip, apple and potato for approximately 10 minutes.

Pour in cider, stir and reduce until the alcohol has reduced, but not too much as you want to retain the cider’s acidity.

In a separate pan, heat the milk with the rosemary and thyme and leave to infuse.

When the onions are translucent, add the herb infused milk.

Bring to the boil and simmer for a further 10 minutes.

Remove from heat, liquidise and pass through a fine strainer.

Season with salt and pepper.



Sally Barnes Smoked Tuna Mash


“The people were nearly all men, dressed solemnly and hideously in their Sunday clothes; most of them had come straight from Mass without any dinner, true to that Irish instinct that places its fun before its food.”

From Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. by Somerville and Ross.

Woodcock smokery is in the pretty Cork village of Castletownshend near Skibbereen in County Cork. The main street, flanked with colourful terraced houses and the odd pub or small shop, dips steeply to the edge of the harbour, overlooked by the handsome church and 17th century castle built by Richard Townsend. It’s a sleepy, romantic place, home to writer Edith Anna Somerville, co author of the Irish R.M. series of humorous novels on Irish life in the early 1900s. It’s here that Sally Barnes smokes her wild fish, using only a time-honoured and traditional methodology, without adding any colourings or artificial preserves.

Wild salmon is in short supply in Ireland, but instead of turning to farmed stocks, Sally has preferred to diversify the fish she uses, including line-caught Irish tuna. Here I have included it in the most simple of Irish dishes: buttered potato mash. Add a drop of lemon juice perhaps, but not much else is needed.


For 2

10 minutes preparation

20 minutes cooking

2 or 3 good sized floury potatoes

50 ml (2 fl oz) warm milk

75 g (3 oz)  butter

Salt and pepper

200 g (7 oz) Woodstock smoked tuna

Lemon juice


Peel and boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes until they are soft.

Mash them with the warm milk and add half the butter. Season with a little salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon.

Flake the tuna through the hot potato mash, add the rest of the butter to melt on top and serve immediately.


Irish Little Gem, Gubbeen Wild Venison Salami, Cider Vinegar and Rapeseed Oil Vinaigrette


Irish Little Gems are larger, frillier and tastier than those I have become used to in France. A mini version of Cos salads, they are perfect for plating, as their long naturally cupped leaves stay fresh and firm.

In this recipe, they are also a good backdrop to Fingal Ferguson’s wonderful charcuterie from the celebrated Gubbeen farm, one of Ireland’s pioneering producers, set in a “gentle and fertile corner of West Cork”.

Here I have teamed sweet apples and grassy Donegal rapeseed oil with Gubbeen’s wild venison salami; it is both fruity and earthy, smoked over “sweet woods” and cooked in white wine. Add a few fried bacon chunks for a bit of crunch and you’ll have a great salad starter or light lunch.


For 2


5 minutes preparation


1 Irish little gem, leaves removed, washed and spun

About 50 or 60 g (2-2½ oz) of Gubbeen wild venison salami, sliced finely

50 g (2 oz) bacon chunks

1 eating apple, sliced finely

3 tablespoons Irish rapeseed oil

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Salt and pepper


Set the salad leaves on two large plates. Dot the salami over them.

Fry the bacon until crisp, then scatter it and the apple slices evenly over the leaves. Drizzle with a vinaigrette made from the oil and vinegar, and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately with some good soda bread and salted butter.


Rocky Road

A relative newcomer to the rows of traybakes and fridge cake, the rebel Yank, Rocky Road, has broken the straight-sided mould of the usual suspects and is often presented in irregular chunks. Unlike the many other sugary squares, this is one recipe where you can make a huge difference to the taste, despite the, frankly, trashy ingredients, by using really good chocolate and good quality dried fruit.

This borders on a traditional fridge cake recipe, (which is fudgier and usually covered in chocolate butter glaze) like those I recently spotted, thinly sliced, served with chocolate sauce, on a pub’s dessert menu or fashioned into a Christmas Pudding shape for an “alternative” Christmas Day dessert. It might not be the most challenging or sophisticated of recipes, but it does seem as if everyone loves it.


For 10 to 12

10 minutes preparation

2 hours chilling


200 g (7 ozs)  salted butter

400 g (14 ozs) good dark chocolate

3 tablespoons golden syrup

250 g (9 ozs) digestive biscuits (or hobnobs or rich tea)

125 g (4½ oz) dried raspberries, cherries, cranberries, strawberries (optional)

100 g (3½ oz) pecans (optional)

100 g (3½ oz) mini marshmallows

Grease and line a 20 cm x 25 cm (8 inch x 10 inch) cake tin.

Put the chocolate, butter and golden syrup in a bowl and melt gently together over a bain-marie or in the microwave.

Crush the biscuits into irregular pieces, either with a quick blast in a mini blender, or in a tea towel with a rolling pin, then add them to the chocolate mixture.

Tip in the dried fruit, marshmallows if you are using it, and stir it all well until everything is coated in chocolate.

Spread the mixture into the tin, smooth out the top and let it cool and harden in the fridge for an hour or so. Cut or break the Rocky Road into pieces and serve.


Hot Tips

Scared to tackle sushi yourself? Sushi made Simple will help take the mystery out of making sushi. We will start by explaining the ingredients, basic equipment and techniques required.  Sushi gets the ‘thumbs up’ from cardiologists and nutritionists – not least because it is based mainly on fresh fish, seaweed, vegetables and rice, but it is also low in saturated fat, high in vital omega 3s and rich in vitamins and minerals. On Wednesday November 25th starting at 9.30am,  we will show you how to make at least eight different types of sushi as well as sashimi.

Students will have the opportunity to taste all the dishes prepared during the demonstration. Light lunch is included.


East Cork Slow Food Event – Peter Mulryan from the Blackwater Distillery will share the exciting story behind Blackwater No. 5 Gin at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Thursday 19th November at 7pm. Slow Food Members €6.00, Non Slow Food Members €8.00. Proceeds will support the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project

Our Autumn 12 Week Certificate Course students are cooking a Pop-Up Dinner at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Saturday November 21st in aid of the  East Cork Slow Food Educational Project. Aperitifs, delicious nibbles and three course dinner. Tickets €45 – Slow Food members €45.00 – non Slow Food members €50.00 – Places are limited, booking essential 021 4646785 or

Midleton Country Markets are now taking orders for Christmas puddings, cakes and mince pies. Check out their usual fare including honey, jams, pickles, seasonal fruit, vegetables & salads.  Every Friday at Market Green from 9.30am-3pm

Check out the winners of the Irish Farmhouse cheese awards on


photo (40)


I’ve just returned from a whistlestop tour of Chicago. The main purpose of my trip, was to collect a iBAM award which I was indeed very honoured to receive. I was warmly welcomed by the hospitable Irish Chicagon’s.  I also managed to check out the food, urban farm and gardening scene.

On the very first evening I had a delicious dinner at The Gage, a sister restaurant of Acanto both owned by the Lawless family (now Chicago restaurant ‘royalty’) originally from Rahoon in Co Galway.

Charismatic Irish restaurateur, Ferdia Doherty gave me a glowing introduction.  His Farmhouse Tavern is the quintessential ‘farm to table’ restaurant and he is justifiably proud of his sustainable sourcing, all produce comes from the four surrounding states Indiana, Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Local sourcing has of course been gaining momentum for over a decade but it has reached a crescendo. Every chef I talked to waxed lyrical about creating ‘farmer friendships’.  The Lincoln Park Market on Saturday morning is not to be missed, packed with Autumn produce, freshly pressed apple  cider, wild mushrooms, hand made cheese and charcuterie, loved Underground Meats from Madison.  There in the midst of it all, was Jared Batson, a past 12 Week student turning out the most delicious sourdough pizza from this mobile wood-burning oven. He also makes woodfired omelettes and scrambled eggs.  Not surprisingly there was an interminable queue. His pizza toppings reflect what’s in season and on the surrounding market stalls. I tasted also a couple of his house-made sodas. I particularly loved a pizza with tomato n’duja and soppresatta  with Hungarian wax chilli, with drizzled Serrano honey. Another with watercress pesto, black walnut, bacon lardons, mozzarella and shaved fresh apple slices was equally delicious. People sat around in the park listening to drumming with the children.

I was also intrigued a brilliant initiative called Little Sprouts aimed at the children who come to the market with their parents. Each week they have a new vegetable for them to taste. Kale, romanesco, carrot, spinach…the kids love the fun and get credit for being ‘super tasters’. There are colouring books, little prizes and competitions, they learn about the seasons. Invariably the child meets the farmer and asks the parents to buy the vegetables so the stall holders also benefit – a neat idea that could become part of all our farmers market over here. People on ford stamps are also able to get double value when they spend them at the Farmers Market, another terrific idea.

Like so many restaurants nowadays, Girl and the Goat concentrates on small dishes to share, the cool waiters wore black t-shirts with punchy one liners.
Goat You!. What happens at the Goat stays at the Goat!…..

Dinner starts early in Chicago, by 4.35 the restaurant was  packed. Stephaniezard’s food Igard’s is multi ethnic but she loves goat and ‘pigs face’. There’s now a Little Goat Diner – a chef to watch.

I also loved Abraham Conlon’s Macan/Portuguese food at Fat Rice on West Diversey Avenue.  We  had a memorable brunch at Dove’s  Luncheonette on Damen Avenue – oyster omelette with tomato confit and chihuahua cheese with a Texas toast – big toast – ½-1 inch thick!

For those more obsessed by architecture than food,  Chicago is a fantastic town, don’t miss the river architecture tour with a running commentary on the awe inspiring ‘sky scrapers’ – some of the country’s most iconic buildings, Mies van der Rohe,  Frank Lloyd Wright, Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Frank Gehry……

Make time to wander through Millennium Park to see The Bean, the Cloud Gate and Lurie Garden.  And certainly don’t miss the Chicago Art Museum – voted the best in the US and deservedly so, then there’s the urban farms and gardens, the brilliant new Local Foods Store and Will Allen’s food revolution at Growing Power – the worst thing about  Chicago is having to tear yourself  away – to be continued…..


Hot Tips

Discovering Tapas, a half day course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Wednesday November 18th. In one afternoon  we have choosen our favourite tapas – classic tortilla a la patata, pata negra, salt cod bunuelos with aioli, pimento de pardon, bunuelos con chrozio y queso, garbanzada……to name a few. Light lunch included. for further information.


Pop Up Dinner at the Ballymaloe Cookery  – Jared Batson, from Nomad in Chicago will host a Pop Up dinner on Wednesday November 11th to support the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project.

Aperitif, delicious nibbles, three course dinner..

Tickets €50 for Non Slow Food members and €45 for Slow

Food members for bookings


Join us in the Ballymaloe Grainstore on Thursday 12th November at 7.30pm for a Riedel comparative wine tasting event with Maximilian Riedel, an 11th generation Riedel glass making family, for his first ever event to be held outside of Dublin.



Mary Jo’s Tomato Upside Down Cake

adapted from Paul Bertolli


My friend Mary Jo cooked up a luncheon feast during my recent visit to Chicago including this delicious and unusual dessert made from ripe tomatoes.


Serves 8-10


300 ml (½ pint) Tomato Jam, see below

75 g (3 oz) butter

75 g (3 oz) brown or dark brown sugar

1-2 firm ripe tomatoes (heirloom if possible), peeled and sliced ¼ inch)

plus a few cherry tomatoes for the gaps


150 g (5 oz/1 cup) white flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

110 g (4 oz/ 1stick) butter, room temperature

110 g (3 ½ oz/½ cup) sugar

2 eggs, large

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon milk, if batter is too thick to spread


Line a lightly buttered round 23 cm/9-inch cake pan with parchment.

Preheat oven to 180°C/350F/gas mark 4

Melt the butter and brown sugar in saucepan. Pour into prepared cake pan spreading evenly.  Arrange the tomato slices snugly in a single layer over the firm sugar base, filling in gaps if necessary.  Spread a thin layer of tomato jam over slices.

Sieve the flour, salt and baking powder. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each. Add the vanilla extract. Blend in the sieved dry ingredients; add a little milk if needed. Dollop the batter around prepared pan and spread evenly over tomatoes. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until firm in the centre. Remove the cake from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Loosen edges and reverse cake, unmolding onto a plate while still warm. Remove the parchment and carefully spread a glazing layer of remaining Tomato Jam over tomatoes. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

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Tomato Jam

Makes 300 ml/½ pint jar.


350 g (12 oz) golden cherry tomatoes or other tomatoes

1 tablespoon finely chopped, thinly sliced lemon (seeds removed)

1 ½ teaspoons grated fresh ginger

150 g (5 oz) sugar (brown, white or mixture)


Put all ingredients into a stainless steel saucepan cook quickly to a thick jam. Sieve to remove seeds.


David’s Cookies

Another gem of a recipe from Mary Jo McMillan’s table – her son David’s favourite cookie recipe and may well be your soon. I even brought some home in my picnic on the plane.

Makes 18 large cookies or 5-6 dozen babies.


110 g (4 oz/1 stick) butter softened

75 g (3 oz/scant ½ cup) caster sugar

75   g (3 oz/½ cup) soft brown sugar

20 g (3/4 oz/1 tablespoon) honey

1 egg

3 tablespoons water

75 g (3 oz/½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ oz wheat germ (1 tablespoon)

160 g (5½ oz/2 cups) rolled oats, preferably old-fashioned

75 g (3 oz/½ cup) chocolate chips

110 g (4 oz/generous ¾ cup) raisins

50 g (2 oz/½ cup) chopped walnuts or pecans


Cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in egg and gradually beat in water.

Sieve the flour, salt and baking soda together. Stir into the creamed mixture with the wheatgerm, add the oats, chocolate chips, raisins and nuts.

For large cookies scoop dough with 2-oz. ice-cream dipper, and place 8 cookies on 8-by-14-inch lightly greased or greased parchment-lined baking sheet. For baby David’s, drop cookies by teaspoon. Using a fork dipped in water, flatten cookies to 1/2-inch thickness. Large cookies should be at least 3 inches across.

Bake in preheated 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 oven until golden. Large cookies will take 12-15 minutes and small cookies will bake in 10-12 minutes. Watch carefully, since honey causes cookies to darken quickly. Cool slightly before removing to wire racks. Layer with waxed paper for storage.


Ferdia Doherty’s Autumnal Salad from Farmhouse Restaurant in Chicago


– put this name on your Chicago list


Serves Four


150 g (6 ozs/2 cups) shaved raw brussels’s sprouts
150 g (6 ozs/2 cups chiffonod black kale
330 g (11 ozs/2 cups) roasted butternut squash

110 g (4oz/1 cup)  ocal lue cheese

2 shaved tart apples

50 g (2oz) toasted black quinoa

50 g (2oz) puffed wild rice

35 g (1½ oz) raw apple cider vinaigrette (see recipe)

18 sea salt crispy kale chips (to garnish)


Prepare all raw ingredients and combine together in a large mixing bowl. Toss with the apple cider vinaigrette and garnish with the fresh made kale chips. Enjoy!


Raw Apple Cider Vinaigrette

(Yield Approximately 1 Cup)

1/2 shallot, finely diced

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 teaspoon roasted garlic

1 teaspoon fresh picked thyme

110 ml (4 fl ozs/½ cup extra virgin olive oil

110 ml (4 fl ozs/½ cup) raw apple cider vinegar

110 ml (4 fl ozs/½ cup) wildflower honey

½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

salt to taste
Combine all ingredients except for the olive oil. Whisk in olive oil slowly to emulsify. Season to taste.  Enjoy!


Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris’ Pumpkin Salad with “Three Sisters Garden” Baby Kale and Goat Cheese


Makes 4 Salads


A small baking pumpkin – butternut or delicata squash.  The method below works on any variety of squash.


2 tablespoons local honey

2 tablespoons butter – softened

baby kale ( 1 large handful,  stems trimmed or removed)

1 pepper, thinly sliced, no seeds

20 very thin slices of Soppressata – Italian salami – toss in a pan with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and sauté till warm, about 1 minute

2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds

4 tablespoon fresh goat cheese


For the Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Pinch of salt

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon local honey

1 teaspoon of olive oil


Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5.

Peel the pumpkin, cut in half and remove the seeds.  Cut into ¼ inch thick wedges and cut in half again, creating 16 wedges (you may have extra pumpkin left over.) Toss the wedges in olive oil, salt and pepper.   Spread the pumpkin out on a baking pan. Roast for 15- 20 minutes or until tender – when the wedges begin to caramelize and they are golden brown.  Remove from the oven.  Mix the 2 tablespoons of honey and 2 tablespoons of butter together.  Coat the hot wedges and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

Next make the vinaigrette. Whisk together in the order of the listed ingredients.


Divide the pumpkin up onto 4 plates.  Toss the baby kale and peppers in the vinaigrette. (depending on the variety and texture of the kale you can allow the kale to sit in the vinaigrette for 5 – 10 minutes before serving.  The vinaigrette “cooks” the kale and tenderizes it.)  Then spread it out over the pumpkin wedges, top each salad with a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds, 5 slices of soppressata, and a tablespoon of fresh goat cheese.  Drizzle with any remaining juices from the pumpkin baking dish.


FullSizeRender (8)

Halloween in the US is almost as big a deal as Christmas, I’ve just recently come back from Chicago and although it was several weeks before Halloween the celebrations had already begun. A whole series of spooky events were planned throughout the month of October. Tickets for the Haunted Halloween Ball were in hot demand, the Guide to Chicago Haunted Houses was flying off the shelves. There were drive-ins spooky movies with promises of the terrors and chills of Halloween. The Club Zone was offering a Freaky Deaky Halloween Express shuttle, the mind boggles!  Halloween costume stores were doing a roaring trade in scary gear for both adults and children alike. Pumpkins were piled high and kitchen shops were finding it difficult to keep up with the demand for cookie cutters. Everyone is in to it….a far cry from apple bobbing and barmbrack.

In honour of Halloween every year, Daley Plaza turns into  Franken Plaza. The Art Institute of Chicago, the most prestigious art museum in the country hosts a Halloween Gathering with lots of ghoulish things to do including kids costume parade, mask making, zombie dance. There’s Boo! at the Zoo with a corn maze, a pumpkin patch, a haunted hayride and even a creepy carousel. Well that’s all very exciting but this is a food column so what were they eating. It’s not just the restaurants and câfes that are in on the food. The excitement of Trick or Treat is in its second year. There is no end of ideas for fun and frightful Halloween recipes, scary spider web muffins, witches brew, devil’s food twinkies, dracula’s brains, dragon’s blood,  jelly, pumpkin pies, pancakes, soups……Here are some ideas to amuse and tempt you. Happy Halloween.


Hot Tips

Mahon Point Farmers Market was buzzing when we visited recently. A brilliant selection of fresh naturally produced local food in season and beautiful fresh fish from West Cork and Ballycotton. My new find was Wild Atlantic Way products. I loved the dried mint and bladderrack ‘tea’, seagrass, garlic butter and seaweed oils.  Zita also does a range of seaweed salts in cute little pots and tells me the nori and seasame  is particularly delicious over steamed rice. The dried nori seaweed is also being snapped up by vegetarians to top up their Vitamin B 12 and calcium. Zita has a passion for the sea so this is her inspired project to enable her to live close to the shore and harvest the sea vegetables sustainably.…/Wild-atlantic-way-products


Have you come across the Little Milk Company’s, organic cheddar cheese – it’s very good.  The milk from  of 10 organic family farms in Munster and Leinster is used to make a range of cheeses, check it out –

Barranstook House, Cappagh, Co Waterford. Tel: 058 685 55


Fiery Pumpkin Soup

Serves 6

2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) sunflower oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) Thai green curry paste

900g (2lb) prepared pumpkin ( peeled, seeded and cut into 2cm (3/4 inch) chunks) – a medium pumpkin weighing about 1.6kg (3 1/2lb) will yield approx. 900g (2lb) prepared pumpkin

600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) homemade chicken stock

1 x 400ml (14fl oz/1 3/4 cup) can coconut milk (we like Chaokah brand)

salt and freshly ground pepper

palm sugar, lime juice and fish sauce to taste

50-75ml (2-3fl oz) cream

2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) Thai basil, shredded or fresh coriander leaves



crème fraîche

Thai basil or fresh coriander leaves


Sweat the onion slowly in the oil until soft but not coloured, about 10 minutes.  Add the Thai curry paste and continue to cook over a low heat for 2 minutes.  Add the chunks of pumpkin, chicken stock and coconut milk, bring to a simmer, season with salt and pepper and simmer until the pumpkin is tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat.  Taste and correct seasoning.  Balance the sweet, sour and salty flavours by the judicious additions of palm sugar, lime juice and fish sauce.

Reheat the soup and add the cream, Thai basil or fresh coriander just before serving.  Ladle into warm soup bowls and serve with a spoonful of crème fraîche and some Thai basil or fresh coriander leaves.


Apple Brack

(Irish Traditional Cooking revised edition)

This is brack recipe is from Phyl O’Kelly who was a much-loved cookery writer in the Irish Examiner newspaper for many years.


Makes 2 loaves

450g (1lb) cooking apples

225g (8oz) sugar

225g (8oz) butter

1 level teaspoon bread soda (bicarbonate of soda)

2 large eggs, beaten

350g (12oz) plain flour or half and half plain and wholemeal flour (which is even nicer)

2 teaspoons mixed spice

225g (8oz) raisins

225g (8oz) sultanas

110g (4oz) cherries

110g (4oz) chopped walnuts


2 loaf tins, 900g (2lb)


First soak fruit in hot tea for 1½-2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 3. Grease and line the loaf tins. Peel, core and slice the apples and stew them carefully with the sugar and a tiny drop of water, stirring frequently to make sure they are not sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. When cooked, add the butter and stir until melted. Set aside to get cold, then stir in the bread soda (bicarbonate of soda), eggs and sieved flour and mixed spice. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Divide the mixture evenly between the 2 prepared tins and bake on the centre shelf of the oven for 1¾–2 hours.


Dracula’s Brains

Flavour popping corn with grated cheddar, mustard and cayenne pepper then shape into ‘brains’ and serve at Halloween as part of a spooky spread!

Makes 12


1 1/2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons) vegetable oil, plus extra for shaping

125g (4 1/2oz) popping corn

400g (14oz) grated Cheddar cheese

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

few pinches cayenne pepper

1 egg white


Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Tip in the popcorn, cover and shake the pan to coat the kernels. Cook over a medium heat until the corn stops popping, about 5 minutes, shaking the pan every so often. Take off heat and sprinkle with a little salt.

Put the Cheddar cheese, mustard and pepper in a small pan and heat gently until melted and bubbling.  Whisk the egg white lightly and add to the cheese mixture.  Drizzle over the popcorn and mix well until completely coated.

Rub hands with a little oil and quickly grab handfuls of popcorn and squeeze into brain shapes. Place on a tray lined with parchment, then leave to cool. Cover with cling film until ready to eat or store in a jar – you can make a few hours before serving.



Halloween Spider Web Cupcakes

Makes 12

200g (7oz/1 3/4 cups) white flour

25g (1oz) cocoa powder

1 level tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) baking powder

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

75g (3oz/3/4 stick) butter

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

175ml (6floz/3/4 cup) milk

50g (2oz) chocolate chips

1 cupcake tray lined with paper cases


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

Sieve the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder in a bowl. Stir in the sugar. Rub in the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Combine the beaten egg, vanilla extract and milk and add to the dry mixture. Combine with a fork to give a wet consistency. Fold in the chocolate chips gently. Spoon into the cases. Bake for 20-25 minutes until well-risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack.


Chocolate or Orange Buttercream Icing

110g (4oz/ 1 stick) soft butter

225g (8oz /2cups) icing sugar

25g (1oz – 1/4 cup) Cocoa Powder (or 2 teaspoons finely grated orange rind)

1 – 2 tablespoons (1 – 2 American tablespoon + 1 – 2 teaspoons) milk

Cream the butter until smooth, sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder and add to the butter. Beat well. Add the milk and beat until smooth. Ice the cupcakes, decorate them and have fun – enjoy!



White Icing

350g (12oz) icing sugar, sifted


To make the icing, add enough water to the icing sugar to make a spreadable icing.


Black or Orange Icing

6 tablespoons (7 1/2 American tablespoons) icing sugar, sifted

a few drops of water

a few drops of black or orange food colouring


Mix the icing sugar with enough water and a few drops of chosen food colouring to make a spreadable consistency.


To decorate the cupcakes.

Ice the top of the cupcakes with the white icing.

Place the black or orange icing in a paper piping bag and draw circles on the white icing.  Using a cocktail stick, drag from the centre outwards and inwards to create a spider web effect.


Halloween Cookies


Halloween Cookies

Makes 40 depending on the cookie cutter size


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

65g (2 1/2oz/generous 1/4 cup) caster sugar

65g (2 1/2oz/generous 1/4 cup) light brown sugar

110g (4oz) golden syrup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

370g (13oz/generous 3 cups) plain flour

1 teaspoon bread soda (bicarbonate of soda)


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

In a large saucepan, melt the butter, caster and brown sugar, golden syrup and vanilla extract and gently together.

Sift the flour and bread soda into a large bowl.  Add the melted butter and sugar mixture to the flour.  Mix together and knead for a few minutes until it comes together.

Flatten the dough slightly into a thick round.  Wrap in cling film and chill in a fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Remove the dough from the fridge, dust the work surface with flour and roll out the dough to about 5mm (1/4 inch) thick.

Using Halloween cookie cutters (or cut into tombstones), cut out shapes and transfer to a baking trays and cook in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes depending on the cookie size.  Allow the shapes to firm up for a few minutes on the tray before removing to a wire rack to cool.


Cookie Tombstones

Halloween Cookies (see recipe)



110g (4oz) dark chocolate, 52%

50g (2oz) white chocolate


Melt both chocolates in separate bowls over a saucepan of simmering water.

Dip the tombstones in the dark chocolate, place on bakewell paper and leave to harden.

When set, use a paper piping bag and place the melted white chocolate in it and pipe ‘boo’; ‘RIP’ on the dark chocolate (tombstone).

Game: New Ways To Prepare, Cook & Cure

Kyle Game


The game season is in full swing and at last, game is losing its reputation as a luxury food, eaten only in grand country houses. Snipe, wild duck, shovler, mallard, teal, widgeon, wood pigeon, partridge and woodcock are already in season. The pheasant season opens on 1st November to 31st January.


Even if you don’t know a hunter, Marks and Spencer, as well as other supermarkets and farmers markets are beginning to sell game birds, one can experiment, escaping the tyranny of eternal chicken breast, farmed salmon and steak, the seemingly compulsory trinity of offerings on virtually every restaurant menu.


Now that pheasant and venison, at least, are more readily available, let’s become more adventurous. There’s so many more ways to cook game other than roasting and many more exciting accompaniments than gravy and bread sauce, much as I love them both.


Virtually every country has game so it’s worth checking out recipes from around the globe. Introduce other techniques, other flavours, and a variety of wild berries, spices, dried fruit, pickles and herbs.


My favourite new book on game was written by Phil Vickery and Simon Boddy who wrote it with the express intention of introducing new ways to prepare cook and cure game. It’s like a total breath of fresh air and whereas they celebrate time-honoured traditions it’s choc full of new recipes you’ll really want to cook and lots of excellent general knowledge about different type of game – plucking, hanging seasons. The evocative photos are by Peter Cassidy.


Here are a few recipes from “Game, New Ways to Prepare, Cook and Cure” by Phil Vickery and Simon Boddy courtesy of the publishers Kyle Cathie.


Hot Tips

Bees are under threat around the globe from a variety of diseases – colony collapse, the varoa mite….beekeepers tell me that the pollen from ivy flowers help keep the bees healthy throughout the winter months so resist the temptation to pull down the ivy, remember its’ beneficial for the bees.


Using social and therapeutic horticulture to benefit people with learning disabilities….Thrive the UK’s leading charity are teaching a 2 day course on 2nd and 3rd November at the Cork Association for Autism. Phone Emma Hutchinson at the association 086 7888 241 or email for more information or to book a place.


Popcorn Pheasant with Spicy Dipping Sauce


On the face of it I know it sounds a bit weird adding condensed milk, but trust me it works. I picked up the idea when I was in America, and even using such a small amount really helps the flavour of the finished dish. To me, it’s no different than marinating chicken in yogurt to tenderise it. Frying pheasant would never have been entertained when I was a young chef, but I think it does the job of sealing in the juices of this very low-fat bird very well.


Serves 4

Preparation: 40 mins

Cooking: about 20 mins


rapeseed oil, for frying

2 medium pheasant breasts, boned and skinned

3 tablespoons condensed milk

2 tablespoons cold water

2 medium eggs, lightly beaten

salt and freshly ground black pepper

a pinch of chilli powder

½  teaspoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons cornflour

200g (7oz) fine-ground cornmeal or polenta



350ml (12fl oz) shop-bought mayonnaise

2 teaspoons roughly chopped fresh red or green chilli

3 teaspoons Dijon mustard

finely grated zest and juice of 1 large unwaxed lime

2 large spring onions, roughly chopped

4 teaspoons chopped gherkins

3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

100g (3½ oz) roasted red pepper (jarred are fine), finely chopped

4 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley

4 teaspoons sugar



Pour 1cm rapeseed oil into a frying pan and heat to roughly 175°C.

Cut the pheasant breasts into 2cm cubes, removing any sinew from the fillet and inner breast.


Combine the condensed milk with the water and eggs in a bowl and season well with the pepper, chilli powder and cumin. Beat together well.

Dust the nuggets of pheasant with the cornflour, then drop into the egg mixture and coat well. Repeat the same process with the cornmeal or polenta ensuring the nuggets are coated well.


While the oil is heating, mix all the ingredients for the dipping sauce together in a serving bowl, seasoning with salt and pepper.


Fry the pheasant in small batches for about 3-4 minutes until golden brown.Drain well, then sprinkle with a little salt

Serve hot with the dipping sauce separately.



Rich Venison Sauce with Pappardelle


Pappardelle pasta is made for big, rich and delicious sauces like this. Once the meat is nicely browned, just simmer gently until you have a wonderfully coloured deep-flavoured sauce. Don’t rush it – just let it simmer away. It’s that simple!


Serves 4


Preparation: 20 mins

Cooking: about 1 hour


4 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

500g (18oz) minced venison

300ml (10fl oz) red wine or port

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons tomato purée

10g (½oz) good-quality beef stock cube, crumbled

300ml strong game stock or chicken stock

400g (14oz) can chopped tomatoes in juice

4 tablespoons cold water

2 teaspoons cornflour, mixed with the water

salt and freshly ground black pepper

500g (18oz) cooked pappardelle pasta


Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the onions and garlic and cook for 10 minutes until slightly browned.

Add the mince and break up well with a wooden spoon. Then cook over a high heat for a few minutes, stirring well, until all the moisture has evaporated and the meat and veg are starting to brown well.


Add the red wine or port and reduce right the way down until you have only about one-third of the original volume.


Next, add the oregano, tomato purée, beef stock cube, stock, tomatoes and their juice and water, bring to a simmer and cook gently for 35–40 minutes.


Stir in the cornflour mixture and cook until slightly thickened, then season well

with salt and pepper.


Serve spooned over the warm pappardelle.



Warm Roast Duck with Broccoli, Radishes & Anchovy


I know you’re thinking this sounds a bit odd, but trust me – it works. The balance here is between the saltiness of the dressing and the richness of the pink-cooked wild duck. Oddly enough, the intense fish flavour works well in this dish and has become a favourite of mine. It also goes well with roasted saddle of hare.


Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a starter

Preparation: 10 mins

Cooking: 20 mins, plus resting


2 wild duck crowns, twin breasts on the bone, wishbones removed

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 salted anchovy fillets, finely chopped or mashed to a paste

3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh tarragon

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

a pinch of sugar

15g  (¾oz) rocket, finely chopped

2 tablespoons cold water

500g (18oz) broccoli, trimmed, leaving a few leaves – split any thick stalks so that all are about the same width

150g (5oz) radishes, finely sliced on the diagonal


Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas 7.


Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof frying pan.


Season the crowns inside and out with salt and pepper, then place skin side down in the hot oil and cook for 2–3 minutes until they start to colour. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 8 minutes.


Meanwhile, put the anchovies, herbs, extra virgin olive oil, sugar and salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk together.


Turn the duck skin side up and cook for a further 4–5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, cover loosely with foil and leave to rest in a warm place for at least 15 minutes.


Add the rocket to the anchovy dressing and mix well with the water.


Cook the broccoli in a saucepan of salted boiling water until just tender. Drain well and keep warm.


To serve

Arrange the warm broccoli evenly on four plates and sprinkle with the radishes.

Carefully slice down either side of the breastbone to remove the four breasts from the crowns and then slice each breast at an angle. Dab the cut duck meat on a piece of kitchen towel to remove any excess blood.


Lay the duck meat over and under the broccoli, then spoon over the dressing.



Roasted Teal with Pickled Autumn Raspberries


The raspberries must be very ripe and full of flavour for this dish to work successfully. The pickle is a very light one, and the berries are perfect to eat after just a few hours. Adding a touch of raspberry liqueur to the finished sauce gives it a sweet, fruity edge that goes perfectly with the teal.


Serves 4

Preparation: 35 mins, plus cooling

Cooking: about 45 mins, plus resting


2 tablespoons any oil

4 Teal ducks, dressed and wishbones removed

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 shallots, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 celery stick, chopped

2 star anise (optional)

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

50ml (2 fl oz) dry white wine

300ml (10 fl oz) strong game stock  or chicken stock

a pinch of sugar

2 teaspoons ice-cold unsalted butter

50ml (2 fl oz) framboise liqueur


Pickled raspberries

200g (7 oz) fresh autumn raspberries

100ml (3½ fl oz) fresh apple juice

3 tablespoons runny honey

2 tablespoons sherry or

balsamic vinegar

2 pinches of salt

a pinch of freshly grated



Pickled raspberries

Put the raspberries into a small ceramic bowl or glass preserving jar.


Put all the other ingredients into a stainless steel saucepan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes.


Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes, then pour over the

raspberries and leave to cool to room temperature. Serve after an hour or two or pop in the fridge where they will keep for a week or so but will lose a little colour.



When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/Gas 8.


Heat the oil in a large ovenproof frying pan. Season the teal well inside and out, then place breast side down in the hot oil and cook for 2–3 minutes until well sealed, ensuring that both breasts are nicely coloured. Turn the birds over so that they are sitting on their backs and transfer the pan to the oven for 10 minutes.


At the 10-minute point, check to see if the birds are well coloured but not

overcooked – the breast meat should still be slightly soft when lightly pressed.


Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the birds to a warm tray, turning them back onto their breasts. Loosely cover with foil and leave to rest in a warm place for at least 10 minutes.


Transfer the birds to a chopping board. Using a sharp knife, slice through the skin where the leg is attached to the breast, then pull the leg back on itself so that the ball and socket joint pops open and carefully pull the leg away. Carefully slice down one side of the breastbone, continuing to cut right along to the wing, then cut through the wing joint. Tease the flesh away from the crown and gently pull the breast meat away. Repeat on the other side. Cover the legs and breast meat with foil and keep warm while you repeat with the other three birds.


Place the frying pan back on the stove and add the shallots, garlic, celery and star anise, if using.


Chop up the carcasses into small pieces, add to the frying pan and cook over a fairly high heat for about 10 minutes until the bones and veg have taken on some colour.


Add the vinegar and boil rapidly over a high heat until almost all evaporated.


Add the wine and boil, scraping off all the lovely caught bits from the pan.


Pour the contents of the frying pan into a small saucepan, add the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, skim and simmer for 10 minutes.


When ready to serve, strain the stock, season well with salt and pepper and add the sugar. It should be well reduced by now. Add the butter with the framboise and swirl in to give the sauce a nice shine.


Place the roasted teal (you may have to flash it through the hot oven) in a hot serving bowl and pour over the well-reduced sauce. Serve with the pickled raspberries.


8/10/2015 (CS) (18591)

Taken from Game by Phil Vickery and Simon Boddy



Kyle Game

Roast Snipe with Beet Curry & Crème Fraîche


These tiny birds are delicious; Clarissa Dickson Wright reckoned

they were tastier than woodcock! They are not often seen on menus these days, possibly because chefs think they aren’t worth the trouble. Well yes, I sort of agree with that, but once prepared and cooked they make a fine meal – it just depends on how many you can eat! The sweetness of the beets in this dish offsets the

curry spices and crème fraîche. Forget the knife and fork and pick the birds up to eat – all you need is a bib.


Serves 4

Preparation: 20 mins

Cooking: about 35 mins in total, plus resting


4 tablespoons any oil

4 snipe, drawn and cleaned,

heads removed

salt and freshly ground black




2 tablespoons any oil

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon black onion

(nigella or kalonji) seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek

1/4 teaspoon dried chilli with


1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 teaspoons tomato purée

200ml (7 fl oz) game stock or chicken stock

500g (18 oz) cooked beetroot, any colour, cut into 5  mm (¼ inch) cubes



150g (5 oz) thick crème fraîche

a few sprigs of fresh coriander



Heat the oil in a saucepan, add all the spices and cook over a low heat for 1-2



Add the onion and garlic and cook gently for about 4-5 minutes until they start to

take on a little colour on the edges.


Stir in the tomato purée and stock and bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes

or until reduced to roughly half the original volume.


Add the beetroot and cook again gently until the stock is well reduced and coating

the beets nicely but not too thick. Check the seasoning and adjust if needed.



Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7.


Heat the oil in an ovenproof frying pan.


Season the snipe all over with salt and pepper, then place one side down in the hot

oil, transfer to the oven and cook for 5 minutes.


At the 5-minute point, remove the pan from oven, turn the birds over onto the

other side and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.


Remove the pan from the oven; cover the birds loosely with foil and leave to rest in

a warm place for 10 minutes.


To Finish

Gently reheat the beetroot curry, trying not to break the beets up too much.


Remove the pan from the heat, add about 50g of the crème fraîche and swirl

through. Keep off  the heat.


To serve, place the snipe in warm bowls and spoon the curry alongside. Finish with

a few sprigs of coriander and a small spoonful of crème fraîche on top of the



8/10/2015 (CS) (18592)

Taken from GAME by Phil Vickery and Simon Boddy



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