ArchiveJuly 2016

Oxford Symposium

I’ve just tasted meringue, macaroons and brownies made from fresh pigs blood, how macabre does that sound. Is there no end to what I’ll do in the name of food research?
The chocolate meringues and macaroons tasted great, in fact there’s no way I would have known they were anything but chocolate. The brownies, I didn’t love, they tasted very peculiar indeed.

Where you might ask did I taste these bites? It was at the Oxford Food Symposium and by the way Jennifer McLagan who read a paper on “Blood, not so simple”, can buy fresh blood any day of the week at her local butcher in Toronto. I spent the weekend surrounded by food historians, scholars, anthropologists, writers, chefs, enthusiastic amateurs and lots of offal nerds. Jennifer discovered that blood has the same whipping properties as egg whites.

The Oxford Food Symposium has been in existence since 1983. It was founded by Alan Davidson and co-chaired by pre-eminent food historian and author of The Oxford Companion to Food and Dr Theodore Zeldin, the celebrated social historian of France.

Despite initial scepticism in Oxford and some outright opposition, it was eventually accepted that Davidson’s proposed field of research – “Science in the kitchen from a historical perspective”, was a suitable subject for Oxford University. Several seminars were arranged, the initial gathering were around 20 people including such luminaries as Elizabeth David, Richard Olney, Ann Willan, Paul Levy, Jane Grigson, Sri Owen, Nicholas Kurti….

The success of these seminars showed that there was a great deal of interest in food history so Davidson and Zeldin created the first full scale symposium in 1981. Thirty five years later, it continues to gather momentum with delegates coming from 28 different countries this year to explore the topic of offal and explore it they did from numerous angles.

Key note speaker Professor Timothy Lang spoke about “Sustainable Diets: an offaly good idea but what will it take to get there?”
Paul Rozin in a riveting paper entitled “Disgust and Decay as Determinants of Dining” explored the disgust phenomena. Offal engenders a huge disgust level in many people. All the cuts come from the same animal so where is the logic? We are happy to eat a steak or chicken breast or a chop but present someone with a salad of gizzards and hearts or spleen sandwiches and they’d rather starve.

Yet they are the sort of titbits that many two and three star Michelin restaurants serve and guests are prepared to pay a ton of money for the pleasure –maybe because when it is super expensive they reckon it has to be good.

From Arundhatie Kundal, we heard about the tradition of eating barbequed chicken feet in the townships of Capetown but they are not allowed to sell them in the more genteel neighbourhoods.
Laura Fan talks about fishhead stew in Kuala Lumpar, I’ve had that too and delicious it was but it’s a whole lot of work for a few tasty nibbles.
Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir from Iceland delivered one of the most interesting papers on the role of offal in the diet of her country and how horse, seal and whale are still important foods. In former years a beached whale saved many communities from starvation but it is now remembered by many as the food of desperation.

Dried fish was and still is one of the main stays of the Icelandic cuisine, hundreds of names for all parts of the fish entrails and every scrap was eaten. Then Nanna passed around tastes of smoked horse tongue – that surely sorted out the ‘men from the boys’! – a double helping of disgust, offal and horse….

Others talked of caul fat, crepine, faggots, the Cypriot sheftalia (forcemeat wrapped in caulfat) and Turkish cocorette, chargrilled lamb intestine served with onion and tomato which I enjoyed in Istanbul. Sami Zubaida waxed lyrical about tripe ‘ pacha’ in Iraq. I was longing to tell them about Cork people’s traditional love for offal dating back to the time when Cork was a hugely important provisioning port for ships crossing the Atlantic. Many of those who were employed in the abattoirs were part-paid in offal hence the extra grá Cork people are said to have for offal to this very day.

This is borne out in the superb selection of offal in Cork’s English Market.
How ‘ate it like chocolate’. Sadly Regina Sexton couldn’t make to the symposium but she was sadly missed and hugely respected among her peers.

Wander through the lanes in the English Market and you’ll find tripe and drisheen the traditional blood pudding, skirt, kidneys and bodices and tongue, pigs, trotters, tails and ears, livers, hearts, kidney and sweetbreads in season. But as impressive as that sounds it’s only a fraction of the fifth quarter, the rest ends up in both human and animal feed and here’s another one. We’ll lap up cheap sausages, cured meats and pâtes and yet we turn our noses up at liver, kidneys, not to speak of a juicy bit of pig’s snout, the preferred piece of the Metanza butchers in Spain.

Well I love offal, in our house we didn’t look down on offal, we celebrated it like any other cut of meat. In London sweetbreads are now three times the price of steaks and quite right too. Here are a few of my favourite offal recipes. Liver wrapped in caul fat, Salad of Lamb’s Kidneys, chicken or duck hearts on pan grilled bread,
and just to cheer you up my favourite brownie recipe (sorry no blood) and it’s also gluten free.

Hot Tips
Garden Workshop: Autumn Harvest and Winter Crops
On Monday August 15th, head gardener at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, Susan Turner will teach the necessary skills to develop sustainable organic growing techniques. Topics covered will include:
Harvesting & selecting varieties for next year, inter crops & filling the hungry gap, seasonal review & planning, winter soil management… for more information.

Simply Delicious Food for Family and Friends
Wednesday August 17th-Friday August 19th

So many of us are ‘time-poor’ – struggling to juggle careers with running our homes, doing our best to look after the important people in our lives – that we want to make sure that the food we are cooking is delicious, nourishing and healthy, simply oozing with TLC.
You will come away from this two-and-a-half day course armed with a repertoire of fuss-free, quick and tasty dishes – good, gutsy food with masses of flavour, guaranteed to gladden the hearts of your nearest and dearest. We’ll give you invaluable time-saving tips and a list of the essential ingredients you should have in your cupboard for those fraught occasions when you haven’t had a chance to do a ‘big shop’ and have very little time available to prepare something simple but delicious.
The course will include quick and easy breads, starters, main courses, salads and some scrumptious puddings.

Chicken or Duck Hearts on Chargrilled Bread

Serves 4

12-16 chicken or duck hearts
½ pint (10 fl oz) chicken stock
Extra virgin olive oil or butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Thyme leaves or a little snipped tarragon

4 slices of sour dough bread

Preheat a pangrill.

Wash the hearts, put into a small saucepan and cover with chicken stock. Add a little salt and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 10-15 minutes or until just tender.
Drain, cut some in half lengthwise, others into rounds.
Just before serving, heat a little butter or extra virgin olive oil in a pan. Toss in the hearts and cook until heated through and browning at the edges. Sprinkle with a little thyme or snipped tarragon and toss. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Taste and tweak if necessary.

Chargrill the slices of bread on both sides. Put a slice on each of four plates. Divide the hearts between them and scatter a few thyme flowers over the top if available.

I sometimes add a little harissa or zhoug.

Lamb’s Liver wrapped in Caul Fat with Sage

Serves 4

1 lb (450 g) lamb’s liver
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8-16 sage leaves
Pork caul fat

Watercress sprigs

Wash and dry the liver. Cut into 8 pieces. Season well with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Lay one or two sage leaves on top, wrap each piece loosely in caul fat. Chill or cook right away on barbeque or hot pan grill. Cook for 3-4 minutes on both sides until the fat renders out and become a rich golden colour.
Serve on hot plates with a few sprigs of watercress.

A Warm Salad of Lamb Kidneys with Oyster Mushrooms and Pink Peppercorns

Serves 4

2-3 lamb kidneys
4 ozs (110g/1 cup) oyster mushrooms
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) freshly chopped annual marjoram, optional
30 pink peppercorns
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) of tomato concasse

Selection of lettuces and salads, ie. Butterhead, Iceberg, Raddichio, Chinese leaves, lambs lettuce or rocket leaves

Vinaigrette Dressing
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of arachide or sunflower oil
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) olive oil
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Remove the skin and fatty membrane from the centre of the kidneys, and cut the kidney into small cubes (1/2 inch) 1cm approx.

Trim the stalks from the mushrooms and slice lengthways. Wash lettuces and dry carefully. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan until it smokes, toss in the mushrooms, season and fry quickly for about 3-4 minutes, add the marjoram, remove to a hot plate add the kidneys to the pan and fry quickly for about 2 minutes. While the kidneys are cooking, toss lettuce in a little of the dressing, divide between the plates. Spoon the hot kidneys and the mushrooms over the salad immediately they are cooked and if liked, scatter salads with pink peppercorns or with tomato concasse and serve immediately.

Brownies with Bitter Chocolate Sauce

Makes 16

50g (2oz) best quality gluten – free dark chocolate
100g (3½oz) butter
200g (7oz) castor sugar
2 eggs, preferably free-range
½ teaspoon pure vanilla essence
75g (3oz) ground almonds
½ teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
Pinch of salt
125g (4oz) chopped walnuts

1 x 20cm (8in) square tin lined with silicone paper

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

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over simmering water or in a low oven.
Cream the butter and sugar until pale, soft and light, then beat in the lightly whisked eggs, the vanilla essence and melted chocolate. Lastly stir in the ground almonds, gluten-free baking powder, salt and chopped nuts. Spread the mixture in the tin and bake in the preheated oven for approximately 30-35 minutes.
Cut into 5cm (2inch) squares for serving.

Serve with bitter chocolate sauce and crème fraîche. Sprinkle with chopped pistachio nuts and dried rose petals.

Bitter Chocolate Sauce

125g (4oz) best quality dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
25g (1oz) unsweetened chocolate
Approximately 175ml (6fl oz) stock syrup
Rum or vanilla extract, optional

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. Gradually whisk in enough syrup to make a sauce of coating consistency. Serve hot or cold. Keeps well in a fridge. Stir before use.

Stock Syrup

Very useful to keep in the fridge as a base for homemade lemonade, sorbets, fruit salads etc. Keeps for 2-3 weeks.

125g (4oz) sugar
150ml (¼ pint) water

Dissolve the sugar in water and boil together for 2 minutes. Store in a covered jar in the refrigerator until needed.


For Irish people particularly, Rome immediately conjures up images of the Vatican and St. Peter’s square…. Been there, done that, a long time ago so this time I had a two day stop over on the way to Sicily. There are seven hills in Rome, so we prepared for lots of steps, it’s an intriguing city and around every corner you are reminded of ancient history, the Trevi fountain, the Colosseum, the Spanish steps.

In Rome you still see priests and nuns in traditional garb hurrying through the streets. If you want to make the most of your time in Rome, hop on one of those sightseeing buses, it will get you orientated. The main focus of this visit was to visit the Sustainable Food Project at the American Academy in Rome and to taste one of my favourite pasta
dishes cacio e pepe at source. The latter wasn’t a great success, I tried several versions none of which were nearly as delicious as Rita Soda’s version I ate at Soda in Manhattan.

The American Academy was established at end of the 18 Century at the top of Janiculum Hill just behind the Fontanele, in the midst of beautiful gardens with mature trees, an olive grove, vegetable beds and an orchard of peaches, plums and apricots. The Sustainable Food Project at the Academy founded in 2007 under the guidance of Alice Waters from Chez Panisse, Berkeley in California. It provides the community of fellows and artists, writers, scholars, historians, architects, astronomers…… Passionate brilliant, intelligent people with seasonal nutritious and utterly delicious food.

This is all the more remarkable because up to the point where Alice became involved, the food was famously appalling described as a “lot like airplane food crossed with an elementary school lunch”. Now guided by the spirit of the Roman table and using home grown produce from the academy’s beautiful garden as well as nearby organic farms and food producers. It is fulfilling the Academy’s aim to provide a replicable model of simple sustainable food for other likeminded institutions. We’ve had a link with the American Academy for almost a decade but I’d never been there so it was especially nice to put a face to the name of the people I’d been corresponding with for years. Laura Offeddu , the manager and Chris Behr the chef who guides a whole team of interns, two of whom are past students from the Ballymaloe Cookery School, Clementine Hain Cole and Freddie Woodruff. We had a delicious lunch at the long table under the arches in the courtyard that seats close to a hundred people.

Simple delicious food, a cold zucchini soup, a salad, a pasta and a fresh cherry compote with housemade yoghurt. We stayed in a little hotel, Hotel Donna Camilla Savelli, in Travasera, in an old convent with a church off reception and a delightful little courtyard with lots of white hydrangeas and trees to shelter from the intense sun. It’s just minutes from the centre, so worth getting in your diary. Any guide book will tell you about the awe inspiring history, architecture and iconic buildings of Rome but here’s a cook’s tour of the Italian capital.

First stop a market – Campo de’Fiori is now a tourist hot spot although there are some food stalls, you are unlikely to find anything of real interest. Real farmers and food producers can’t afford to trade there so seek out other local markets to get a glimpse of how and what real Romans eat. I went to the market in Testaccio, it’s a permanent covered market with row after row of produce, butchers, fishmongers. It’s a real joy and education to watch Italian women shop and to observe how super fussy they are, they still shop for fresh produce every day. There were no big supermarkets in evidence although I did see a few small neighbourhood ones.

If you want to make the best of a foodie trip to Rome, contact Katie Parla, She whizzed us around to some of the very best food shops and cafes. She’s deeply knowledgeable on Roman history architecture and archaeology as well as the food scene.

La Tradizione, where I bought a superb Pecorino aged in the time honoured way in a timber box with aromatic herbs and also and tasted a variety of other Italian artisan cheeses. Then on to Pizzarium, Bonci on Via della Meloria where I tasted the very best pizza I have ever eaten anywhere in the world and that is quite a statement…..
The crust was crackly, the base crisp, the centre tender and flavourful and the topping super delicious. He does pizza by the slice and you pay by weight. At his bakery on Via Trionfale one can buy really good bread and food to go including this Roman chicken and chips which is bound to become your favourite comfort food. Bonci is a well-known TV chef in Italy who works with small producers and farmers who grow ancient cereals and grains.

We also loved the fantastic ice cream and granitas at Carapina. One can’t visit Rome without eating gelato and put Supplizio on your list also for the best suppli and arancini…I’ve ever eaten.


Transition Year Cookery Course
Doesn’t matter whether you wish to be an astronaut or a GP everyone needs to be able to cook. In response to numerous requests we plan to run two five day cookery courses for Transition Year students. Monday 25th July – Friday 29th July or Monday 1st August – Friday 5th August. Very limited numbers.

Kids in the Kitchen
Kids absolutely love to sieve, knead, roll, measure and mix. It’s hugely important to teach kids at this young age to develop a life-long love of food and cooking, to develop good eating habits in a fun and engaging way.
On Monday August 8th, we will teach the students to cook a range of simply delicious food for friends and family. They will spend a busy morning cooking, before enjoying a lunch of what they’ve made. After lunch we will feed the scraps to the hens, see the vegetables growing in the glasshouses. This is an action-packed day of delicious learning and fun.

The Fit Foodie
Derval O’ Rourke’s new book has just been published. Derval discovered the importance of nutrition as an elite athlete and believes eating well made all the difference to her form. The Fit Foodie is full of simple, delicious and totally doable recipes such as Laid Back Lamb Tagine, Mediterranean Salmon and Spaghetti, Butternut and Bean Stew, Chocolate Fondant Cake…..Derval also shares smart and inspiring advice on how to get organised so that good food and exercise is a seamless part of your life. Publised by Penguin Life

Date for your Diary
A Taste of West Cork Food Festival will run from 9th – 18th September 2016 in Skibbereen brings together a unique mix of food markets, demonstrations, cookery competitions, special dinners, brunches and banquets, food talks, tastings….and lots more.

Garden Café Pizza Dough

The beauty of this recipe is that it is so quick and easy, using this fast acting yeast does away with the first rising. By the time your tomato sauce is bubbling in the oven your pizza base will be ready for its topping!
Makes 8 x 25cm 10inch pizzas

680g (1 1/2lbs/6 cups) strong white flour or 600g (1 1/4lb/5 cups) strong white flour and 110g (4oz/1 cup) rye flour
50g (2oz/1/2 stick) butter
1 packet fast acting yeast
2 level teaspoons salt
15g (1/2oz) sugar
2-4 tablespoons (2-4 American tablespoons + 2-4 teaspoons) olive oil
450 – 500ml (16-18 floz/2 – 2 1/4 cups) lukewarm water – more if needed

In a large wide mixing bowl sieve the flour and add in the salt, sugar, rub in the butter and fast acting yeast, mix all the ingredients thoroughly.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the oil and most of the luke warm water. Mix to a loose dough. You can add more water or flour if needed.
Turn the dough on to a lightly floured work top, cover and leave to relax for about five minutes.

Then knead the dough for about ten minutes or until smooth and springy (if kneading in a food mixer with a dough hook, 5 minutes is usually long enough).
Leave the dough to relax again for about ten minutes. Shape and measure into 8 equal balls of dough each weighing approximately 150g (5oz). Lightly brush the balls of dough with olive oil.

If you have time, put the oiled balls of dough into a plastic bag and chill. The dough will be easier to handle when cold but it can be used immediately.

On a well floured work surface roll each ball in to about 25cm (10inch) disk. I find it convenient to pop a few rolled out uncooked pizza bases into the freezer. You can take one out, put the topping on and slide it straight into the oven. What could be easier!

This dough also makes delicious white yeast bread which we shape into rolls, loaves and plaits.

Gabriele Bonci’s Pizza with Squash Blossoms, Ricotta and Black Olives

10 oz (300 g) fresh sheep’s’ milk ricotta
7 oz (200 g) black olives, pitted and crushed
1 (12 oz/350g) ball white pizza dough
Extra virgin olive oil to taste
9 oz (250 g) mozzarella
15 squash blossoms
Fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 220-250C/ 450-475F

Mix the ricotta cheese and olives together to combine. Stretch out the dough and place it in a well oiled pan. Tear the mozzarella cheese into pieces and scatter about half of it over the dough. Dot the dough with the ricotta and olive mixture. Place the whole squash blossoms on top. Scatter the remaining mozzarella cheese on top of the blossoms.

Bake the pizza until golden brown and well risen, about 25 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little oil.

Gabriele Bonci’s Pizza with Tomato Sauce and Anchovies

1¾ lb (800 g) fresh anchovies
2 lemons
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
500 ml (18 fl oz/2 cups) white wine vinegar
1 (12 oz/350 g) ball white pizza dough
18 oz (500 g/2 cups) canned peeled tomatoes
Fine sea salt, to taste
1 head garlic
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley leaves, minced

Preheat the oven to 220°C-250°C (450°F-475°F).

Clean, butterfly and bone the anchovies. Arrange them in a non-reactive pan in a single layer. Zest ½ lemon and set aside for finishing the pizza. Juice both lemons, whisk the juice with a generous amount of oil and vinegar and pour the liquid over the fish. Cover and marinate until the flesh of the anchovies has turned white, about 20 minutes.

Stretch the dough out and place in a well-oiled pan. In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes with some oil and salt. Spread the tomato mixture over the dough by hand, crushing the tomatoes between your fingers as you drop them into the dough. Break up the garlic and scatter the unpeeled cloves over the tomato sauce.

Bake the pizza until golden brown and well risen, about 25 minutes.

Remove the pizza from the oven and arrange the anchovies on top. Season with pepper, the reserved lemon zest and a drizzle of oil and the parsley. Serve hot.

Gabriele Bonci’s Spicy Pizza with Eggplant and Burrata

1 (12 oz/350g) ball white pizza dough
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lb (500 g) eggplant
Fine sea salt, to taste
10 oz (300 g) burrata, chopped
Red chilli flakes, to taste

Preheat the oven to 220°C-250°C/450°F-475°F.

Stretch out the dough and place in a well-oiled pan. Thinly slice the eggplant into rounds and toss them with a small amount of oil and salt. Arrange the eggplant rounds on top of the dough.

Bake the pizza until golden brown and well risen, about 25 minutes.

Remove the pizza from the oven and arrange the cheese on top. Sprinkle with

Gabriele Bonci’s Pizza with Squash Blossoms, Ricotta and Black Olives

10 oz (300 g) fresh sheep’s’ milk ricotta
7 oz (200 g) black olives, pitted and crushed
1 (12 oz/350g) ball white pizza dough
Extra virgin olive oil to taste
9 oz (250 g) mozzarella
15 squash blossoms
Fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 220-250C/ 450-475F

Mix the ricotta cheese and olives together to combine. Stretch out the dough and place it in a well oiled pan. Tear the mozzarella cheese into pieces and scatter about half of it over the dough. Dot the dough with the ricotta and olive mixture. Place the whole squash blossoms on top. Scatter the remaining mozzarella cheese on top of the blossoms.

Bake the pizza until golden brown and well risen, about 25 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little oil.

Roman Chicken and Chips

Serves 6-8

Chicken thighs, drumsticks, wings
8 large potatoes
Freshly ground pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Season the chicken heavily with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put into a bowl and scatter with lots of thyme. Toss well.
Peel the potatoes, cut into thick chips. Dry and season well with salt and freshly ground pepper and thyme. Add to the chicken.
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/gas mark 8.

Spread out onto a roasting tin.

Drizzle with a little more extra virgin olive oil. Roast for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the chips are crispy at the edges.

Serve with a good green salad and several vegetables of your choice.

Pistachio Honeycomb Ice-Cream

Serves 12-14

100g (4oz/1/2 cup) sugar
220ml (8fl oz/1 cup) water
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
1200ml (2 pints/5 cups) whipped cream
100-200g (3 1/2-7oz) Pistachio Honeycomb (see recipe)

To Serve
Pistachio nuts

Put the egg yolks into a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy (keep the whites for meringue). Combine the sugar and water in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir over heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, then remove the spoon and boil the syrup until it reaches the ‘thread’ stage, 106-113°C/223-236°F. It will look thick and syrupy; when a metal spoon is dipped in, the last drops of syrup will form thin threads. Pour this boiling syrup in a steady stream onto the egg yolks, whisking all the time. Add vanilla essence and continue to whisk until it becomes a thick creamy white mousse. Fold the softly-whipped cream into the mousse, pour into a bowl, cover and freeze. After 1 hour fold roughly chopped pistachio honeycomb into the semi-frozen ice-cream. Freeze.

Serve with a little more pistachio honeycomb and coarsely chopped pistachio nuts scattered over the top.


Makes about 500 g (1lb 2oz)

Serves 30-40 as a petit four

85g (3 1/4oz) Duchy (or good quality local) honey
180g (6 1/4oz) liquid glucose
400g (14oz/1 3/4 cups) castor sugar
100ml (3 1/2fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) water
15g (3/4oz) bicarbonate of soda

1 Swiss roll tin – 20 x 30cm (8 x 12 inch)
parchment paper or silpat mat

First loosen the honey and glucose syrup by dipping their containers in warm water, then weigh out into your saucepan. Then add the sugar and water and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Gradually raise the temperature of the pan’s contents to 150°C (300°F).

Carefully sprinkle the bicarbonate of soda into the pan. The contents will fizz up like lava from the underworld, but don’t be alarmed, this is what puts the tiny air bubbles into the honeycomb. Stir the mixture to make sure all the powder is incorporated, then pour it out onto your silicone sheet (or baking tray). Leave to set for at least 30 minutes, then break the brittle mass into small pieces.

Pistachio Honeycomb/Praline
basic Honeycomb recipe (see above)
150g (5oz) pistachios, roughly chopped

Sprinkle half the pistachios over the bottom of the Swiss roll tin, pour the honeycomb over then sprinkle on the remaining pistachios. Leave to set for at least 30 minutes, then break the brittle mass into small pieces.


On our way to celebrate a very special anniversary with some friends in the foothills of Mount Etna, we snatched an extra few days to rediscover Sicily.
This time we didn’t get to see the Ballaro Street market in Pallermo but remember the vibrant, bustling, raucous, daily fruit and veg market from my last visit. It starts at 5am so get there early, gleaming fish and shellfish, don’t miss the sea urchins, sliced open and ready to eat or the raw shrimps with just a squeeze of lime juice, extra virgin olive oil and maybe a whisper of red pepper. Of course tons of fresh vegetables and perfectly ripe fruit to die for.

I also remember luscious fried artichokes and octopus and great Palermitan spleen sandwich cooked in lard and piled onto a soft bun with a sprinkling of parmesan, not everyone’s ‘must have’ but I’m a big offal fan so loved it.

We left the higgledy-piggledy sprawl of Palermo, and headed west for Regaleali, the countryside is breathtakingly beautiful, aromatic landscape, beautiful rolling countryside, huge wheat fields, olive groves, pencil thin Italian cypress, wildflower roadside verges, hilltop towns.

Overall the country roads with virtually no traffic are very good and the motorways on stilts provide a fantastic view of the countryside without disturbing farming or village life. More vineyards as we got closer to Vallelunga and Regaleali famous for vineyards.

Here Fabrizia Lanza followed in her mother Anna Tasca Lanza’s footsteps running the cookery school in the midst of her farm and organic gardens. Rachel Roddy and Luisa Weiss were facilitating a Food Writing course when we arrived. We participated in a pasta course the next day and also learned how to make a cherry and pistachio nut crostata. Fabrizia has a passion for the garden and brings seeds home from her travels to trial in the gardens.

Here for the first time I saw pistachios, capers and pink peppercorns growing but of course there were peaches, nectarines, cherry, figs and plums, almonds, walnuts….
Meals were all around the huge square in the dining room. An aperativo in the cobbled courtyard. I particularly remember the delicious rabbit cacciatori and the alarmed (actually horrified) look on an American lady’s face when she discovered she was eating rabbit…..

A soup of zucchini and the leaves was comforting and piqued my curiosity. The cucuzze variety is tender, delicious and flavourful and the leaves can also be cooked.
Pasta con sarde with sardines and wild fennel, raisins and pinenuts is one of Sicily’s best loved pastas. It’s made with the feathery wild fennel that grows throughout the countryside. We also visited a dairy sheep farmer who milks 350 sheep twice a day on his hillside farm. He made Tuma cheese and the best ricotta I have ever, ever tasted.

I’ll focus on the food – breakfast in Sicily – for most Sicilians like Italians breakfast is a cappuccino or a cup of espresso with a ubiquitous cornetto, a jam, chocolate or ricotta or almond filled croissant but I was intrigued to learn that the traditional summer breakfast is granita preferably almond or coffee and a brioche. The granita di mandorle with wild strawberries I enjoyed at Tre Contrade in Giarre was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

Here are just a few of the delicious foods I tasted in Sicily. Cassata, canoli and pasta sarde are all quintessentially Sicilian but not so easy to reproduce at home so try these other specialities.

Great Food, Quick
Time starved? Worn out by endless multi-tasking? Driven demented by traffic gridlock? Underwhelmed by the idea of buying convenience food? Don’t despair. In 2½ days, we’ll show you how to make delicious and nutritious everyday meals fast – heart-warming soups, simple starters, main courses, yummy desserts, homemade bread…. Super-fast actually, because in half an hour or less, from start to finish, you will be able to produce scrumptious dishes, all of which look good, taste good and are easy to prepare after even the most gruelling day.
Monday 25th July- Wednesday July 27th.

Coast with Rachel Allen and Ivan Whelan
This year Rachel took a tour of the “Wild Atlantic Way” visiting food producers, chefs and restaurants along the coast. A great TV Show and a book ‘Coast’ followed. In this course Rachel and her side kick Ivan will cook some favourite recipes from their trip using the very best of ingredients from the Atlantic Coast, artisan producers and farmers. Wednesday July 27th- Friday July 29th

Zucchini Blossoms with Tuma and Anchovies

Tuma is a fresh sheep’s milk cheese made by Sicilian shepherds.
Buffalo mozzarella would made a good substitute

Serves 6

12 freshly picked male zucchini blossoms
Tuma or mozzarella,
12 anchovies


175g (6 oz) Durum semolina flour.
350 ml (12 fl oz) beer
good pinch of salt
Olive oil for frying

Cut the cheese into little strips that will fit into the blossom, tuck an anchovy and a little strip of cheese into each flower,
Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan of deep fry to 180C
Meanwhile, make a simple batter by whisking beer into the durum flour until it’s a light coating consistency. Add a good pinch of salt. When the oil is hot, dip one flower at a time into the batter twisting the ends as you slip it gently into the hot oil. Cook a few at a time turning over after a minute or two to crisp the other side, drain on kitchen paper and serve immediately.


There are many versions of this Sicilian vegetable stew; this is one I particularly enjoy.

Serves 6-8
350g (12oz) celery, stringed and chopped in 5mm (¼in)dice
250g (9oz) onion, peeled and chopped coarsely
200ml (7fl.oz) approx.. extra virgin olive oil
1kg (2¼lb) aubergine, cut in 2.5cm (1in) chunks
1 tablespoon. capers, salted if possible (wash in cold water, drain and dry)
18 green olives, stoned
75g (3oz) homemade tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring a 1.2L (2pint) saucepan of water to the boil, add 1 teaspoon salt, throw in the celery and onion. Bring back to the boil, cook for 3 minutes. Drain.
Heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a wide heavy frying pan, over a high heat, add about a quarter of the aubergines, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss until brown on all sides and almost soft in the centre.
Remove and continue with the remainder of the aubergine. You’ll need to add more olive oil. Then toss back in the rest, plus the onion and celery, olives, capers, vinegar, tomato puree and sugar.
Stir gently to combine evenly. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, taste and correct the seasoning.
Serve warm cold or at room temperature.

Fabrizia Lanza’s Zucchini Soup with Tender Greens

In Sicily this soup is made with the cucuzze squash, long tender pale green zucchini and the leaves can also be used to flavour and add extra nourishment, a comforting delicious soup.

Serves 6-8

110 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped or 1½ cups canned Roma tomatoes, chopped
Fine sea salt and black pepper
2 cucuzze squash or 3 medium zucchini, peeled and chopped
3 bunches tender squash greens, chopped (Tenerumi)
1 small bunch celery leaves, chopped
3 small potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 cups lukewarm water

Combine the olive oil, onion and garlic in a large, wide soup pot and cook over medium high heat until the onion is golden, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, breaking them up with a wooden spoon, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the rest of the vegetables and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the water, then simmer, covered until the vegetables are tender, 20-25 minutes.

Coming Home to Sicily, Fabrizia Lanza, published by Sterling Epicure

Spaghetti with Walnuts, Anchovies and Parsley.

Serves 6
450g spaghetti
2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6 anchovy fillets, coarsely
4 tablespoons chopped walnuts,
A small or large pinch of chilli flakes,
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley
Flaky sea salt

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add salt. (1 tablespoon to 4.8L)
Add the pasta, stir, bring back to the boil and continue to cook until al dente, drain but save a little liquid.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the sliced garlic and cook until very pale golden, add the coarsely chopped anchovies, mash into the oil, add the walnuts , chilli and parsley, stir and pull off the heat.
Drain the pasta, add to the pan, toss, add some cooking water to loosen the sauce. Taste and tweak if necessary, serve ASAP .

Pina’s Pistachio Cake

This gorgeous cake recipe was given to me by some friends, Jon and Marco in Sicily who serve it for breakfast. Pistachio flour is widely available but one can make pistachio flour in a food processor, use unsalted pistachio nuts. Sieve, so the pistachio mixture is fine.

Serves 10-12

130 g (4¾ oz) butter, melted and cooled
300 g (11 oz) caster sugar
3 organic eggs
200 g (7 oz) ‘OO’ flour
200 g (7 oz) pistachio flour
16 g (½-¾ oz) dried yeast
200 g (7 oz) natural yoghurt

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

Butter and flour a 26 cm (9 inch) Bundt tin or 8 inch (20.5cm) round.

Cream the butter, add the sugar and beat well until light and fluffy. Add a beaten egg, one at a time, beating well before adding the next egg.

Next add the flour and pistachio flour, yeast and yoghurt. Mix well.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes or until just firm to the touch.

Euro Toques Awards 2016

Members of Euro-Toques, The European Association of Chefs, which include some of Ireland’s greatest chefs, came recently to Ballymaloe House to honour founder member, Myrtle Allen on the 30th anniversary of the organisation. Mrs Allen also instituted the Euro-Toques EirGrid Food Awards over 12 years ago to recognise and promote Ireland’s unique food producers. The winners of these prestigious awards are nominated by the members of Euro-Toques and are completely independent.

The Ceremony was held in the Grainstore at Ballymaloe and several award winning Eurotoque chefs cooked one delicious course to create a celebration dinner at Ballymaloe House. Canapes were prepared by Irish Michelin-starred chef and Euro-Toques member Enda McEvoy of Loam in Galway. Other delicious courses were cooked by Graham Neville from Residence and Restaurant Forty One in Dublin, Feargal O’Donnell, The Fatted Calf in and local chef Kevin Aherne Sage in Midleton, and Rory O’Connell, Ballymaloe House and Bryan McCarthy Greene’s in Cork

This year’s the Eurotoque Eirgrid Food Award awards focused on the important yet challenged categories of raw milk cheese and free range pork, both of which have been shrinking year on year in the face of regulatory and economic barriers.

• Joint award for free range pork- Fergus & Sandra Dunne, Pigs on the Green, Offaly, and Dave & Diana Milestone, Andarl Farm, Co Mayo, both of whom work tirelessly for the welfare of their 100 heritage outdoor pigs to ensure the best quality and flavour for their outstanding range of products including handmade sausages, dry cured rashers, pork loins, chops and slippers of ham. –

• For excellence and innovation in dairy- Aisling and Michael Flanagan, Velvet Cloud Irish Sheep’s Milk Cheese, Co Mayo, – one of the most talked about new producers of the year and the only sheep’s milk yogurt produced in Ireland on the land that the family have farmed for generations. –

For raw milk and raw milk cheese- James Gannon, Cloonconra Cheese, Co Roscommon, who faces increasing challenges in today’s heavily regulated sector. James’s beautiful cheese uses raw milk from their pedigree herd of endangered native Irish Moiled cows. This breed has been a feature of Irish agriculture for thousands of years and was traditionally famous for the quality of its milk. They are the only farmers milking the Moiled Cow for cheese in Ireland today, which is an accolade in itself. www.

• For excellence in aquaculture- Hugh O’Malley, Achill Oysters, Co Mayo. Hugh is the fifth generation of his family to harvest oysters from the sea around Achill. The delicious briny oysters are the product of progressive sustainable aquaculture, making the most of the natural marine environment. www.

• For excellence in baking and collaboration to educate- The Founders of Real Bread Ireland. A very important initiative started in January 2015 by a handful of bakers who believe in the importance of real bread. They support and learn from each other and generously share their skills. Many of them actively teach consumers to bake, believing that it is a core skill and essential to healthy eating with which I fully concur. Real Bread Ireland is now a network of over 60 bakers. The founders of this inspirational organization were bakers Patrick Ryan of Firehouse Bakery, Declan Ryan of Arbutus, Thibault Peigne of Tartine, Joe Fitzmaurice of Riot Rye and Kemal Scarpello of Scarpello & Co, spearheaded by Keith Bohanna – a man known to many in the food industry for his talent and generosity.

Euro-Toques presented a Special Commendation to Colin and Kevin Jephson of Ardkeen Quality Food Store in Waterford. Inspirational independent food retailers who have been tremendous supporters of Irish artisans and Irish specialty food producers, since it was founded as a small grocery store in 1967. In the early 2000’s, finding themselves literally surrounded by international retail giants like Tesco and Lidl, they took the decision to become more specialised and concentrate on supporting local Irish producers with a total commitment to quality, an appreciation of provenance and good relationships with their suppliers. In 2015 they launched, bringing artisan foods to a much broader audience. The website boasts the world’s best selection of Irish artisan food with a product listing of over 1100 items, and growing.

There are currently over 3,500 small to medium sized food businesses operating in Ireland. Euro-Toques chefs work directly with the small producers and give credit this produce that comes through their kitchen doors every day with the success of their award-winning restaurants. Furthermore, supporting small local food businesses benefits the local economy too: A study by the New Economics Foundation in London found that every €14 spent at a local food business is worth €35 for the local area, compared with just €20 when the same amount is spent in a supermarket or wholesaler. Check out these website and seek out these exceptional Irish artisan products that we are all so proud of.


Get a few hens…..

It’s win, win all the way if you have a few hens. They can even be in a mobile chicken coop on your lawn. They will gobble up all your household waste; provide you with eggs and chicken manure in return. The latter will activate your compost and when well rotted can be returned to your vegetable patch to make the soil more fertile to grow beautiful healthy vegetables. Plus you don’t have to worry about bin charges…..
Contact: Johnstons of Mountnorris Hatchery in Armagh – – to order day old chicks or keep an eye out a local farmers market, eg Skibbereen.
Check out the Slow Food Ireland website for local suppliers

Second Nature Oils
I get lots of queries from fans of rapeseed oil who are anxious to find an organic source. My favourite comes from Drumeen Farm, in Co. Kilkenny, one of the oldest existing certified organic farms in Ireland where they grow, cold press and bottle a multi award winning 100% Irish extra virgin rapeseed oil and incidentally they have recently introduced a fresh cold pressed and unrefined freshly cold pressed organic flaxseed oil

Dynamic Vegetarian Cooking
At last vegetables are moving to the centre of the plate . There’s a growing realization worldwide that we would be altogether healthier eating lots more fresh vegetables and less but better quality meat. The gardens and greenhouses here at the school are bursting with beautiful produce at the moment so this 1½ day course will reignite your enthusiasm for vegetables, herbs and pulses. We long to share some of our favourites with you – small plates, starters and substantial main courses. We’ll also talk about juicing and have fun making some colourful salads with the spiralizer…this course includes a special guided walk through the vegetable and herb gardens and the greenhouses at Ballymaloe Cookery School and an opportunity to accompany the gardeners as they harvest the produce for the morning’s cooking.
Thursday July 21st and Friday July 22nd, for the details.

Graham Neville’s Organic Smoked Salmon, Clogherhead Crab, Granny Smith Apple

Per person
50g (2 ozs) picked crab meat
10g (½ oz) mayonnaise
5g (¼ oz) finely chopped pickled ginger
5g (¼ oz) pickled ginger juice
A squeeze of lemon
1 large slice of smoked salmon (about 40g/2¾ oz)
1 granny smith apple – cut into thick strips & dressed with a squeeze of lemon & a spoon of olive oil
1 egg, hard boiled – 8 min., cool, peel & sieve yolk & white separately
Finely diced onion – 1 spoon
1 teaspoon salmon eggs
Large caper berries

Lay the hardboiled egg (white and yellow), salmon eggs, diced onion, and caper berry in sequence around the perimeter of the plate.
Lay the salmon flat in the centre of the plate, positioning the crab on top of the salmon.
Lay thick strips of apple neatly on top of the crab.
Can be accompanied with brown bread or brioche

Kevin Aherne’s Blackened Carrot, Fermented Cabbage, Smoked Yolk, Lovage

4 servings

Kevin from Sage Restaurant in Midleton says this is a very simple dish to prepare, but you will have to think 2 weeks ahead to ferment your cabbage. Make a large batch so you can store it away for another day’s use. Note that carrots are only baby carrots twice a year so if out of season replace with celeriac or pumpkin!

For the cabbage
½ Dutch cabbage finely shredded
10g (½ oz) salt
500g (18 ozs) water
10g (½ oz) caraway seeds
12 sage flowers

For the carrots
8 new season baby carrots washed & peeled if necessary
10 g (½ oz) lemon thyme
10 g (½ oz) lemon verbena
50ml (2 fl oz) water
20 g (¾ oz) butter

For the yolk
4 organic eggs separated
Hay for smoking

For the emulsion
50 g (2 oz) lovage
1 egg yolk
30ml (1 fl oz) cider vinegar
100ml (3½ fl oz) rapeseed oil

For the cabbage – Mix the water, caraway & salt together. Immerse shredded cabbage in solution. Place in an airtight container and place in a warm dark area for 2 weeks. Remove from solution and place in an airtight container until needed.
For the emulsion- Place the lovage, vinegar & yolk in a food processor. Blend on high speed for 45 seconds. Then very slowly add the oil. Check for seasoning at the end if needed add a little salt. Store in a squeeze bottle
For the egg yolk- Place the egg yolks over a ban marie of hot water. Heat until 62 degrees. Then blend into a puree in a food processor. Smoke the puree in an old biscuit tin box with the hay. Store in a squeeze bottle
For the carrots – Place the carrots in a pot with the water, thyme, verbena & butter. Gently simmer for 6 minutes. Remove from the pot and char either on the BBQ or an open fire for 5-6 minutes. You might think this is a little odd but the citrus flavours from the herbs and char are magic together.

For assembly
You can serve the cabbage warm or cold your choice. Place just off centre on the plate. Place 2 charred carrots on top along with the Sage flowers. Then, a few dots of emulsion & a few dots of yolk purée.
Enjoy !

Eurotoque Celebration Lemon Cake with crystallized rose petals and lemon verbena

Head pastry chef JR Ryall, of Ballymaloe House made a large version of this cake for the Eurotoque chefs to present to Myrtle Allen in recognition of her legacy to the Irish food scene at the awards.

225 g (8 oz) caster sugar
225 g (8 oz) butter, room temperature
4 large eggs
225 g (8oz) plain white flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
zest 1 lemon

110 g (4oz) butter (room temperature)
225 g (8oz) icing sugar
zest 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoon lemon curd, see recipe

2 x 7 inch round cake tins x 3 inch deep

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
Line the base of the cake tin with non-stick baking parchment or a spare butter wrapper and brush the sides of the tin with melted butter and dust with flour.
Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest until pale and light in texture. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and gradually add to the creamed butter and sugar, bit by bit, mixing well between each addition.
Sieve the flour with the baking powder. Gradually and gently fold the flour into the cake mixture until the mixture is an even consistency. transfer the mixture into the cake tin and smooth over the surface with a palate knife. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow to rest in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack and when cool carefully cut the cake in half.
To make the butter icing, cream the butter, sieved icing sugar, lemon zest and juice together until pale and light in texture. Spread on third of the icing onto the bottom half of the cake. Neatly spread the lemon curd on top of the butter icing before sandwiching with the top half of the cake. Using a palate knife spread the remaining icing over the top and down the sides of the cake and decorate with crystallised lemon verbena leaves and rose petals.

Pimentos de Padron

We love Padron peppers, but we’ve had to bring them in from Brindisa in London for our Tapas courses for many years . The good news, Padron peppers are now available in several of our top supermarkets and here in response to several requests is a recipe for the way the Spanish love to eat them.

Serves 2

Pimentos de Padron are small green peppers named after a town in Galicia where they have been grown for over 400 years. They are usually fried in olive oil, sprinkled with coarse sea salt and served as a tapa. They are so delicious and addictive. Eating them is like playing Russian roulette – once in a while you get a fiery one that tastes volcanic! Serve as a tapa or as a starter.

250g (1/2lb) fresh pimentos de Padron
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) Spanish extra virgin olive oil
coarse sea salt, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Add the pimentos. Toss continually with a wooden spoon until they puff up or until lightly browned in spots. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain well and transfer to a hot plate. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and eat immediately.

Summer School Tour

We’re cruising through West Cork in the sunshine – Marguerite daisies, foxgloves, wild roses, ragged robin, buttercups by the roadside, honeysuckle tumbling through the hedgerows and the fuschia is just about to burst into flower. Oh how beautiful the countryside looks. e’re on our ‘school tour’.

Students from 13 countries made their way to the bus shortly after dawn. First we visited Bill Casey to learn the story of the Shanagarry Smoked Salmon, next a visit to Philip Dennhardt’s Pizza Palace where the Saturday Pizzas are cooked in a woodburning oven. This ‘field trip’ is not just a skite, the object of the exercise is to introduce the students to as many great food concepts as possible. These students who are with us from all over the world, at Gastro Boot Camp, for 12 weeks are looking out for ways to use their newly acquired skills to earn a living from their cooking.

It’s Thursday, so our next stop was Mahon Point Farmers Market, a positive ferment of brilliant ideas. I give each student a meal ticket so they can taste some of the delicious foods. Lauren’s steak sandwich with real Béarnaise Sauce, a BLT or Raclette. A brilliant Volcano pizza from Simon Mould’s woodburning oven, a whole grain or lentil salad drizzled with a spicy dahl from The Rocket Man or chicken tikka and other temptations from Green Saffron. I couldn’t resist some bone broth and Vietnamese pho from Rachel McCormack of Sonny’s Merchants of Broth.

There’s ice cream, sushi, hummus and pitta, seaweed, gorgeous cakes, great coffee, chocolates…….Customers are snapping up Tom Clancy’s beautiful plump chickens, duck eggs and little speckled quail eggs from his farm in Ballycotton. Always a queue at the fresh fish stalls, both for O’ Driscoll’s in Schull and Trevor McNamara in Ballycotton.

Other stalls have tantalizing vegan and gluten free food. Organic vegetables, freshly dug and still covered with soil, fruit, fresh herbs and plants. Arbutus Bakery have crusty artisan breads to tempt and inspire the students to bake and on and on….never enough time to explore but certainly enough to whet everyone’s appetite and fill their minds with ideas for great food.

Back onto the bus to head for West Cork and a visit to Gubbeen Farm just outside Schull. The students were blown away by this entrepreneurial farming family of ‘food makers’ who continue to inspire others to think outside the box. Tom’s herd of friesian cows produce the milk for Giana’s Gubbeen cheese. The whey gets fed to Fingal’s pigs which make the bacon and ever growing range of charcuterie. How on earth does Fingal get time to make handmade knives in the midst of it all. His sister Clovisse grows the organic herbs for the cures and a wonderful range of beautiful vegetables, fruit and salad leaves for local restaurants in summer.

One could spend the entire day there but onwards to Timoleague to visit another artisan producer. Anthony Creswell of Ummera who smokes chicken and duck as well as the Ummera smoked salmon. Anthony nudged on by his wife is a model of sustainability. The students were intrigued with Anthony’s brilliant vermaculture system to deal with waste.

A few miles away in Bandon we called into Urru, Ruth Healy’s food shop, delicatessen and café. An unbearably tempting shop for food lovers with maybe the best selection of cookbooks in the country. Ruth and Diane Curtin gave the students sage advice about how to overcome challenges in business.

By now it was late afternoon and our final stop was at Diva in Ballinspittle. Here Shannen Keane has a bakery and café which draws people from miles around to eat her eclectic food. Great menu and some irresistible cakes and great vegan choices as well as the American style cakes she herself loves.
A very full day and so many inspirational food entrepreneurs reflecting the dynamic food scene of Ireland today.

Check out Fingal Ferguson’s new fermented salamis from the Gubbeen Smokehouse – love at first nibble. Handmade knives need to be ordered ahead and unless I’m mistaken, these knives will become collectors’ items.

Oriel Sea Salt in Drogheda, Co Louth
John Delaney continues to innovate. Irish mineral sea salt kiln dried and whiskey smoked sea salt has just landed on my desk. This beautiful pure salt is worth keeping an eye out for.

Achill Oysters
The Euro-Toques EirGrid Food Awards were announced on Monday June 13th. The first seaweed producer to win an award was Hugh O Malley of Achill Oysters in County Mayo who described the history of his oyster farm as ‘achieving the dream’. His oysters have a unique flavour owing to the peat land sourrounding Hugh’s farm and the high level of salinity in the water.

Garden Workshop: Designing a Herbaceous Border
On Monday July 11th from 9am to 2pm, Susan Turner, Head Gardener at Ballymaloe will teach a half day garden workshop on how to design a herbaceous border. Susan will cover good plant choices for a long season of interest with vibrant colour combinations and contrasts in texture and form. Combining structural plants, under planting, extending the season with annuals, self-sowers and inter planting with bulbs. Seasonal maintenance to include pruning, dividing the plants, weeding techniques and tools, staking and mulching.
Light lunch included.

A Taste of Istanbul
Our ‘Taste Of’ series here at Ballymaloe Cookery School usually reflects my most recent culinary adventures. On my first trip to Turkey, I was absolutely enchanted by the flavours and diversity of the food in Istanbul and Cappadocia. I’ve been so fortunate to have a deeply knowledgeable guide who took me on a culinary walking tour of Istanbul and introduced me to the most notable restaurants, cafes and street foods.
Inspiring cooks and chefs shared their recipes and several cooking classes helped me to get to grips with the eclectic food. Istanbul straddles two continents, so the food reflects the tantalizing flavours from both Asia and Europe.
I can’t wait to share a selection of my favourite finds with you on this two and a half day course which also includes an optional evening presentation of my culinary adventures in Istanbul!
Tuesday July 19th – Thursday July 21st

Eat Yourself Well with Anti Inflammatory Nutrition Plan with nutritionist Debbie Shaw

Debbie Shaw, nutritionist will teach a one day course focusing on 3 lifestyle choices, bone broths and fermentation, anti- inflammatory foods and blood sugar balancing that are important for sustaining long-term health and vitality.
€165.00 includes light lunch, tastings, and delicious easy recipes.
Saturday July 9th , at the Castle Holistic Centre in Castlemartyr, 9.30am-4.30pm. Booking Essential – phone 086 7855868 or email

Smoked Ummera Chicken Salad with Ballyhoura Apples, Walnuts and Dried Cherries

A delicious summer salad to enjoy the produce of several artisan products at once

Serves 6

225g (8oz) boneless smoked turkey or chicken, cut in julienne
1 large Ballyhoura apple, peeled, cut in wide matchsticks and tossed with 1 dessert spoon lemon juice
1 small red onion, peeled, thinly sliced and macerated in 1 dessertspoon lemon or lime juice
3 tablespoons dried cherries, or a fistful of fresh cherries, stoned.
75g (3oz) shelled walnuts, lightly roasted
250g (9oz) baby salad leaves

Lemon Honey Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon runny honey
1/2 teaspoon Irish grainy mustard
6 scant tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Prepare each item as above. Next make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together. Just before serving, toss the salad leaves in a little dressing – just enough to make the leaves glisten. Divide between six deep plates, sprinkle some smoked turkey or chicken, apple julienne, onion rings, dried cherries and toasted walnuts on top, garnish with sprigs of flat parsley or chervil if available.

A Plate of Gubbeen Charcuterie

Thin slices of Gubbeen chorizo, Gubbeen ham, salami, coppa, chistora…… Add a few fresh radishes and some of Clovisse’s salad leaves with crusty country Arbutus breads, sourdough, yeast or Irish soda bread and a glass of red wine.
Arrange the meats on a large platter, open a good bottle of red and tuck in! Follow up with some Gubbeen cheese and crackers.

Smoked Irish Salmon with Cucumber Ribbon Salad and Mustard and Dill Mayonnaise
Bill Casey stresses the importance of buying smoked Irish salmon rather than Irish smoked salmon which can be imported farmed salmon smoked in Ireland. Let’s support our local producers.

Serves 8

225-350g (8-12oz) smoked Irish salmon

Pickled cucumber strips, made from 1 cucumber, 2 teaspoons salt, 110g (4oz/1/2 cup) sugar, 75ml (3fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) cider vinegar

Mustard and Dill Mayonnaise
1 large egg yolk, preferably free range
2 tablespoons French mustard
1 tablespoon white sugar
150ml ground nut or sunflower oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dill, finely chopped
salt and white pepper

sprigs of dill
chive or wild garlic flowers
freshly cracked black pepper

On the day of serving: First make the cucumber pickle. Cut the cucumber in half, then cut into strips using a potato peeler. Put the cucumber into a deep bowl, add the sugar, salt and cider vinegar. Toss gently, leave to macerate for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile make the Mustard and Dill Mayonnaise. Whisk the egg yolk with the mustard and sugar, drip in the oil drop by drop whisking all the time, then add the vinegar and fresh dill. Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble: Unwrap the smoked salmon, cut down to the skin in thin slices or into â…“ dice. Arrange the drained cucumber strips and the smoked salmon in a haphazard way on each serving plate. Drizzle with Mustard and Dill Mayonnaise. Garnish with tiny sprigs of dill and chive or wild garlic flowers.

Finally add a little freshly cracked black pepper over each serving. Serve with Arbutus Brown Yeast Bread.

Ummera Gravlax or Smoked Mackerel with Cucumber Ribbon Salad and Mustard and Dill Mayonnaise

Substitute Gravlax or Frank Hederman’s smoked mackerel for smoked salmon and proceed as above.

Shannen Keane’s Diva Vegan Chocolate Layer Cake

350 g (12 oz/3 cups) flour
100 g (4 ozs/2/3 cups) cocoa
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
450 g (16 oz/2 cups) caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt

450 ml (16 fl ozs/2 cups) cold water
100 ml (3½ fl ozs/½ cup) + 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Vegan Chocolate Frosting

220 g (8 ozs/2 cups) pure soy, vegan butter
110 g (4 ozs/1 cup) vegan cream cheese
250 g (8 ozs/2 cups) icing sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
110 g (4 oz) good quality chocolate, 70%

Grease and line 3 x 9 inch cake tins with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3.

For the cake, mix the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients together.

Next, mix the dry and wet ingredients together, pour through a strainer and beat again.

Divide the batter between the three tins. Bake in a moderate oven for 25-30 minutes. Cool completely.

To make the frosting:- melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. Let cool slightly. Cream the vegan cream cheese and vegan butter. Mix the melted chocolate into the cream cheese mixture. Add icing sugar to blend, then the vanilla extract.

To assemble: – Place one cake on a serving plate. Spread the chocolate frosting around the base. Add another cake base, spread with more frosting. Top with the third cake base. Spread remaining frosting on top and around the sides of the cake.


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