ArchiveMarch 14, 2015

St. Patrick’s Day

St Patrick’s Day celebrations continue to gather momentum around the world. This year the Colosseum in Rome and the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville as well as Jumeirah Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi will be illuminated in green for the first time as part of the sixth annual Tourism Ireland Global Greening Initiative.

It is such a brilliant idea. They’ll join a long list of iconic sites from the Sydney Opera House to the Niagara Falls and are a source of tremendous pride to the millions of Irish diaspora scattered around the globe.

St. Patrick’s Day provides us with a fantastic opportunity to celebrate our heritage and focus the attention of people around the world on Ireland

Good Food Ireland also have an imaginative campaign going for St Patrick’s Day.  This year they have joined with Tourism Ireland to generate extra excitement for  #goinggreen4stpatricksday. What a fun concept.

So, let’s all ramp it up for St Patrick’s Day. The ‘greening’ can take many forms; decorate the house, the local school, your workspace, yourself. Pull out all our green bling and go for it, no need to be subtle and the more outrageous the better.

How about some fun competitions, prizes for scariest, chicest, most alarming and think of the fun we can have in the kitchen, both in our cafes and restaurants as well as at home. Lots of cooks and chefs have been going crazy with green food colouring with some alarming results. Tom O’Connell of O’Connell’s in Dublin is getting a brilliant reaction to his Grandma’s sweet white scones decorated with green cherries from Urru in Bandon. Country Choice in Nenagh also has a terrific choice of dried fruit and Peter and Mary Ward are always up for a fun challenge.

Good Food Ireland too is having a “Greening Photo Competition” for its members. Go to  to check out the entries and get some great ideas.

The Ballymaloe Cookery School students have been having a hilarious time experimenting and “green storming.” Don’t just think sweet dishes, wood sorrel with its clean fresh lemony flavour looks just like shamrock and tastes great. The flavour pairs brilliantly with fish, pork, scattered over salads or paired with labneh and a kumquat compote as in this recipe – which just happens to be green, white and gold – I know, I know, it sounds naff but it’s a delicious combination and a perfect starter for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

Those who are a bit sniffy about fake food colouring should look out for the natural version or use spinach juice, it won’t be “Kelly green” but will be delicious. The Irish diaspora are celebrating all over the world so why don’t we join them, gather the pals around,  go green and celebrate the good times that are just around the corner.

Happy St Patrick’s Day.


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Pamela Black’s St Patrick’s Day Cake

Serves 6-8


6 ozs (170g) butter

6 ozs (170g) castor sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

3 eggs, preferably free range

6 ozs (170g) self-raising flour

¼ tsp green food gel colouring

Two 7 inch (18 cm) cake tins

½ pint cream, stiffly whipped

3 tablespoons kumquat compote

icing sugar

fresh marigolds to decorate


Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/regulo 4. Grease the tins with a little melted butter and put a round of greaseproof paper on the bottom of the tins.

Cream the butter, add sugar, green colouring and vanilla extract. Beat until light and fluffy.  Add in the eggs one at a time, each time with a tablespoon of flour. Beat very well, and then fold in the remaining flour gently. Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cakes are well risen, golden and feel spongy to the finger tips.

Allow the cakes to cool for a few minutes in the tins and then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.


Kumquat Compôte


235g (8 1/2 oz) kumquats

200ml (7fl oz) water

110g (4oz) sugar


Slice the kumquats into four or five round depending on size, remove the seeds.  Put the kumquats into a saucepan with the water and sugar and let them cook very gently, covered, for half an hour or until tender.


Note: This compote keeps for weeks in the fridge.


To Assemble

Spread the compôte a over the bottom of each sponge. Fill a piping bag, fitted with a plain éclair nozzle, with the whipped cream. Pipe the cream evenly over one base, starting at the outside edge of the sponge, working inwards. Place the remaining sponge on top and dust with icing sugar. Garnish with Marigold Flowers.



Tom O’Connell’s St. Patrick’s Day Scones


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


900g (2lb/8 cups) plain white flour

175g (6oz) butter

3 free-range eggs

pinch of salt

50g (2oz) castor sugar

3 heaped teaspoons baking powder

450ml (15floz) approx. milk to mix

110g (4 oz) green cherries, chopped coarsely



Egg wash (see below)

green granulated sugar for sprinkling on top of the scones


First preheat the oven to 250°C/475°F/Gas Mark 9.


Sieve all the dry ingredients together in a large wide bowl. Cut the butter into cubes, toss in the flour and rub in the butter and add the chopped cherries. Make a well in the centre. Whisk the eggs with the milk, add to the dry ingredients and mix to a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board.  Don’t knead but shape just enough to make a round.  Roll out to about 2½ cm (1inch) thick and cut or stamp into scones.* Put onto a baking sheet – no need to grease.  Brush the tops with egg wash and dip each one in granulated sugar. Bake in a hot oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool on a wire rack, and serve fresh with good Irish butter.


Egg Wash

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


* Top Tip – Stamp them out with as little waste as possible, the first scones will be lighter than the second rolling.


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St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes

This is our favourite cupcake recipe – they can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion!


Makes 9-12 cupcakes or 16-18 buns (queen cakes)


150g (5ozs) butter (at room temperature)

150g (5ozs) caster sugar

150g (5ozs) self-raising flour

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract



225g (8oz) icing sugar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon water


green cherries or wood sorrel and dried apricot


2 muffin tins lined with 18 muffin cases.


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


Put all ingredients except milk into a food processer, whizz until smooth.  Scrape down sides of the bowl, then add milk and whizz again.


Divide mixture evenly between cases in muffin tin.


Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until risen and golden.


Meanwhile make the icing.

Put the sieved icing sugar into a bowl.  Add enough lemon juice and water to mix to a spreadable consistency.


Pop green cherries on top of each one and add some dried apricot if you want to have an even more patriotic cupcake


Labne with kumquat compote and wood sorrel


Serves 4-6

Wood sorrel is shamrock shaped with tiny yellow flowers which look pretty but also has a delicious sharp lemony flavour.


225g (8oz) labneh (drip natural yoghurt overnight)

kumquat compote (see recipe)

wood sorrel or fresh mint leaves


Drip the natural yoghurt in muslin overnight (500g (18oz) will yield between 225g or 250g (8oz or 9 oz) of labneh)

Make the kumquat compote and allow to get cold, (it will keep in the fridge for weeks).

To serve:

Put a good dollop of labneh on a cold plate. Drizzle some kumquat compote over the top and sides. Sprinkle a few wood sorrel leaves over the top for a St. Patrick’s day dessert with a fun twist.


Hot Tips


  • Slow Food Pop-up St Patrick’s Day Dinner. Get your green glad-rags on and let’s celebrate with a pop-up dinner at Ballymaloe Cookery School on Tuesday 17th March at 7pm. Aperitif, delicious nibbles and three course dinner with St. Patrick’s Day desserts. Price €40 for Slow Food Members, €45 for non-members. Places are limited so booking is essential phone 021 4646785 or email
  • Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine 2015 was launched in New York last week to great excitement. How about a gift voucher as a Mother’s Day present. Mum can chose from a whole range of events, but how about “Late Afternoon Sparkle”, a talk and tasting with Mary Dowey, or  a magical theatrical evening in the Drinks Theatre with Susan Boyle and her “Wine Goose Chase”, or a cookery demonstration with  Allegra McEvedy. See
  • The Business of Food with Blathnaid Bergin at Ballymaloe Cookery School. For the vital information needed to set up a viable, enjoyable Food Service Business this ten day course is run by The Restaurant Advisor, Blathnaid Bergin and is full of workshops, discussions, case studies, practical sessions and presentations. For more information see


  • Want to buy yourself or someone else a little treat, trot along to Mahon Point Farmers Market to the Treat Petite stall and snap up a few of John and Sylvia McCormick’s new chocolate batons with pistachio nuts, sea salted caramel, or tahini and sesame – seriously good, in fact one of my best new finds. Yes, they are the “retired” couple who make the irresistible cake pops and macaroons, how fortunate are we that they got bored of being retired!

There’s a multitude of temptations at the market, but look out for the girls from “My Goodness” who are doing a new range of kefirs and kombucha.


  • Achill Island Sea Salt. How lovely is it to have several Irish sea salts to choose from, I’ve just discovered Achill Island Sea Salt although they have been in business since July 2013. I love the texture, easy to crumble in your fingers and the delicious clean fresh minerally flavour. It is hand harvested around Achill Island and has no additives or preservatives. See www. or email



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