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.

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


Past Letters

  • Recipes