ArchiveOctober 2016


Wow, we’re really got the bit between our teeth about Halloween at last. We’re every bit as commercial as the US, I couldn’t believe the number of spooky festivals in Ireland this season. Some like the Spirits of Meath (where according to legend Halloween began) (Really…..) started on October 14th and continues until November 6th with a huge program of family oriented events. There’s a Halloween festival in Galway, a Halloween House in Kenmare, haunted woods around Birr Castle, Bram Stoker Festival in Dublin when Macnas will stage a twilight procession on October 26th but voted ‘best of all’ earlier this year is the evocatively named Pooka Spooka at Causey’s Farm and Farmaphobia in Co Meath. Check out and and there’s tons more.

Well in this column, we’ll remember the original spirit of Samhain, Halloween and indeed Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead in Mexico, where every family celebrates and honours their deceased members with joy and revelry and lots of special foods.

Each household creates an ofrenda in their home, a colourful alter or shrine decorated with photographs, objects and treasured possessions of the deceased. Bright orange Mexican marigolds (tagetes) and the favourite foods and drinks. Relatives, family and friends go together to tidy and decorate graves. This is a convivial rather than sombre affair. Later, they return in a candlelit procession, laden with baskets of foods to picnic around the tombs of their dearly beloved.

Food plays a very important part in the festivities. Special breads, Pan de Muerto are baked, vibrant sugar skulls are decorated with shiny foil, sequins and beads even feathers. Candied pumpkins and a variety of beverages, Such as atole, a drink made from fermented corn. Here in Ireland the barmbrack is our most traditional Halloween food – the yeasted fruit bread is further embellished over the holiday season. Bakers all around the country add charms to the rich bread, a ring to signify that marriage is imminent, a dried pea indicates poverty, a stick predicts that your partner will beat you, a bit of ‘a rag’ isn’t good news either. That means that the unlucky person who finds that in their slice of barmbrack is likely to fall on hard times, though I wonder whether the bakers would even be allowed to put in a piece of rag nowadays for Health and Safety reasons….

Colcannon made with curly kale was also linked with Halloween both here in Ireland and in Scotland and a ‘wee’ bowl was put out on a window sill to ward off evil spirits.

Halloween nowadays has come a long way from apple bobbing, ghost stories and the banshee keening on the gate pier combing her long grey hair.

Food too, has changed and become super creative. Magazine editors dream up all kinds of witches brews, spiderweb cupcakes, ghostly meringues, dragons eggs, zombie broths, shortbread tombstones, Dracula’s brains, dragon’s blood soup, spooky pucas, vampire tacos, spicy bones, squiggly fish with vampire butter, not to mention amazing cakes iced in horrid shades of green, orange, black and purple. Here are a few spooky treats to add to your repertoire.


Slow Food Dinner

Paula McIntyre of Slow Food Northern Ireland is hosting a Slow Food Dinner in the South West Regional College, Dungannon Campus on 16th November. Pre-dinner drink at 6.30pm, followed by a 5 course dinner at 7. Tickets are £12.50. Contact:

St George’s Market in Belfast
Congrats to St George’s Market for winning the OFM Awards, best Market in the UK.

Date for the Diary
East Cork Slow Food Event
A Tutored Chocolate Tasting with Nancy Gilchrist on Thursday November 24th 2016 at the Ballymaloe Cookery School.
Tel: 021 4646785 or email

Irish Tea Barmbrack

This is a more modern version of barmbrack, now commonly called a ‘tea brack’ because the dried fruit is soaked in tea overnight to plump it up (rather than boiled). This little gem of a recipe is much easier to make at home than the Halloween Barmbrack.

Even though it is very rich bread, in Ireland it is traditionally served sliced and buttered.

Yields about 12 slices (eat the crusts, too!)

110g (4oz) sultanas
110g (4oz) raisins
110g (4oz) currants
50g (2oz) natural glace cherries, halved or quartered
300ml (10fl oz/1 1/4 cups) hot tea
1 organic egg, whisked
175g (6oz/3/4 cup) soft brown sugar
225g (8oz/2 cups) self-raising flour
1 level teaspoon mixed spice
50g (2oz) homemade candied peel (see recipe on Examiner website)

450g (1lb) loaf tin – 12.5 x 20cm (5 x 8in) OR 3 small loaf tins 15 x 7.5cm (6 x 3in)

Put the dried fruit and cherries into a bowl. Cover with hot tea and leave to plump up overnight.

Next day, line the loaf tin with silicone paper.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Add the whisked egg, soft brown sugar, flour and mixed spice to the fruit and tea mixture. Stir well. Put the mixture into the lined loaf tin.
Cook in for about 1 1/2hours or until a skewer comes out clean.
Leave to cool on a wire rack. Slice and butter to serve.
Keeps very well in an airtight tin.

Devilled Eggs

Makes 8

4 free range eggs
2-3 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped chives
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

8 sprigs of parsley or chervil
Wild watercress leaves

Lower the eggs gently into boiling salted water, bring the water back to the boil and hard boil the eggs for 10 minutes in boiling water, drain and put immediately into a bowl of cold water. (Eggs with a black ring around the yolk have been overcooked). When cold, shell, slice in half lengthways. Sieve the yolks, mix the sieved egg yolk with mayonnaise, add chopped chives and salt and pepper to taste. Fill into a piping bag and pipe into the whites. Garnish with a sprig of parsley or chervil and serve on a bed of wild watercress leaves.

Dragons Eggs

Makes 8

Pickled Beetroot Juice (see recipe on Examiner website)

8 eggs, hard boiled

Watercress sprigs

First cook the eggs. Bring a deep saucepan of water to the boil, lower the eggs carefully into the boiling water, ten minutes from the time the water returns to the boil will be adequate. Drop into a bowl of cold water and run under tap with completely cold water. Peel, fill into sterilized Kilner or preserving jars and cover with beetroot pickle juice (see below). Allow to macerate for 2-3 days before using.

Serve on a bed of watercress or include in a salad with smoked mackerel or eel.

Note: the beetroot pickle dyes the egg white a scary purple colour

Wizard’s Soup in a Pumpkin Shell

Serves 6

50g (2oz/1/2 stick) butter
150g (5oz/1 cup) chopped potatoes, one-third inch dice
110g (4oz/1 cup) peeled diced onions, one-third inch dice
300 g (10 oz/2 cups) beetroot, chopped
150 g (5 oz/1 cup) parsnip, chopped
1.2L (2 pints/5 cups) homemade chicken or vegetable stock or 1L (1 3/4 pints) stock and 150ml (5fl oz/generous 1/2 cup) creamy milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. When it foams, add potatoes and onions and turn them until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Add the vegetables and stock. Boil until soft, liquidise, sieve or put through a mouli. Do not overcook or the vegetables will lose their flavour. Adjust seasoning.

Serve in a pumpkin shell.

Spider Web Cake

Serves 8

175g (6oz/1 1/2 sticks) soft butter
150g (5oz/generous 1/2 cup) castor sugar
3 eggs, preferably free range
175g (6oz/1 1/2 cups) self-raising flour

Chocolate Icing

175g (6oz/1 1/3 cups) icing sugar
50g (2oz) cocoa
75g (3oz/3/4 stick) butter
75ml (3fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) water
75g (3oz/scant 1/2 cup) caster sugar

Lemon Glacé Icing

110g (4oz/scant 1 cup) icing sugar
1-2 tablespoons (1 1/4 – 2 1/2 American tablespoons) freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 x 20.5cm (8 inch) sandwich tin buttered and floured. Line the base of the tin with parchment paper.

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

Put the soft butter, castor sugar, eggs and self-raising flour into the bowl of a food processor. Whizz for a few seconds to amalgamate and turn into the prepared tin – make a dip in the centre so it rises evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes approx. or until golden brown and well risen.

Cool in the tin for a few minutes, remove and cool on a wire rack.
Next make the chocolate icing. Sieve the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a mixing bowl. Measure the butter, water and sugar into a saucepan. Set over a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved and the butter is melted. Bring just to the boil, then draw off the heat and pour at once into the sifted ingredients. Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth and glossy. It will thicken as it cools.

For the lemon glace icing. Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl. Add enough lemon juice to make a softish icing.

Pour the chocolate icing over the cake and allow to drip down over the side. Meanwhile, fill a paper piping bag with a fluid glace icing, fold over the top, snip off the point to make a writing pipe.
Quickly, pipe a continuous circle from the centre to the outside. Then use a cocktail stick to draw the icing inwards and outwards to create a spider’s web.

Decorate with spiders and pucas if available.

Serve on a Halloween plate or cake stand.

Spooky Pucas

Easy and fun to make, they can be eaten just as they are with softly whipped cream or used to decorate a spooky cake.

Makes 30 approximately

2 egg whites
110g (4oz/1/2 cup) caster sugar

For Eyes
50g (2oz) chocolate

Preheat the oven to 110°C/225°F/Gas Mark 1/4.

Whip the egg whites with the caster sugar until they form stiff peaks.
Place in a piping bag with a plain nozzle.

Line a tray with parchment or bakewell paper. Carefully squeeze a small circle of meringue out of the bag pulling upwards as you do to make a ghost shape.
Repeat until the mixture is used up.

Bake in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours until crisp – the meringues should lift off the parchment/bakewell paper easily. Cool.

Melt the chocolate in a Pyrex bowl over simmering water, place in paper piping bag. Pipe spooky eyes and noses on meringues. Leave to set.


Every now and then one comes across a natural leader, a person with an impossible vision who has the tenacity and charisma to make their vision a reality against all the odds. Michael Kelly, founder of GIY Ireland is certainly such a person and it can be a tiny incident that sparks an idea – this whole movement which supports the growing efforts of 150,000 people and 6,000 food communities both in Ireland and the UK, all started with garlic.

Michael was busily doing the food shopping one dark evening, not his favourite task, he picked up a bulb of garlic – 50 cents, he was outraged to discover that it had come ‘all the way from China’.

It set him thinking surely to goodness we could grow garlic in this country.

Out of this outrage was born, what is now one of the most important social grass roots movements in the country GIY – Grow It Yourself. Michael shared his discovery with some of his friends; they decided to arrange a meeting to ‘test the waters’. Did others feel the same? Was there any interest in this topic? Was there a hunger for knowledge? Over 100 people turned up to the initial meeting in the Waterford Library one September evening in 2008, standing room only – obviously there was an appetite to learn what for some was a ‘forgotten skill’ for others a longed for skill to learn how to sow a seed and grow even a little of their own food.

Michael had inadvertently stumbled upon a longing, among a significant number of people to discover the magic of sowing a seed and having the satisfaction of watching it grow into something they could eat and feed to their families in the secure knowledge that it was nourishing, wholesome and free of chemicals. Since that small beginning in 2008, Michael and his messianic team many of whom have soldered by his side voluntarily since the very beginning has travelled up and down the country starting branches, organised eight

GIY Gathering Conferences in Waterford, supported over 6,000 local champions, inspired and encouraged and continued to dream.
Michael was invited to deliver a DO lecture in Wales in 2012, during that event he became even more aware that the movement needed a headquarters, a centre where people could visit, see edible gardens bursting with vegetables, herbs and fruit, learn how to grow, eat and gather together to share the fresh seasonal food from the garden.
On the ferry boat back, he scribbled a ‘note to self’ on his pad – ‘must do, GIY HQ’ and stepped off the boat at Rosslare with an enhanced mission.

He shared his vision, it resonated with many people.

A vision is one thing, but raising €1.4 million to realise that vision is quite another – a massive fund raising campaign ensued over 4 years and on 8th October, GIY HQ was opened to a joyous reception from hundreds of supporters, well-wishers and local businesses and the passionate GIY team. It’s rare enough to find a work force so totally committed to an ideal as the group of twenty six super charged individuals who are overjoyed to be part of this project.
Michael thanked the myriad of people who had helped and supported his vision along the way but reserved extra special mention for Waterford County Council who had unanimously voted to donate the 3 acre site at Farronshoneen on Dunmore Road opposite the University Waterford Hospital and the Solas Centre to GIY.

The sustainable building on was designed by Soulearth Architecture and encompasses class room, café and cooking school –and now the work really begins. Check it out on

The Shop stocks a variety of gardening tools including copper hand trowel and fork, copper spade, Chillington hoes, tools to last a lifetime… the Grow and Cook book published in 2014.
Back to garlic, for those of you have not yet grown your own, buy a few garlic bulbs preferably varieties that suit the Irish climate. Bryn Perrin from West Cork Garlic recommends a good ‘softneck’ variety called Iberian. It can also be harvested as green garlic and has an exceptional flavour. Pink Marble Czech ‘hardneck’ variety is great tasting garlic with hot spicy flavours. Mild Elephant garlic with its huge cloves is particularly popular and delicious for roasting and also great for smoking. If you don’t feel like smoking your own, check out Frank Hederman’s stall at the English Market or the Midleton Farmers Market on Saturday for beautiful smoked garlic to serve with chicken or to flavour smoked garlic aioli.

But if you like to grow your own, buy a couple of bulbs of suitable varieties. Divide into cloves; plant each one root end down in the ground about 1 inch (2.5cm) deep and 4 inches (10 cm) apart towards the end of November. Used to be that one would plant on the shortest day of the year and harvest on the longest day but with global warming one can certainly plant earlier.

It’s such a joy to be able to buy Irish grown, chemical free garlic, so seek out West Cork Garlic grown by Bryn Perrin and is available at several retailers or by mail order
From the cooks point of view what would be do without garlic as an ingredient in our kitchen not to mention its numerous nutrition medicinal qualities.

Hot Tip
Lost and Found – a rediscovery of forgotten flavours and foraged foods. A Pop Up Dinner hosted by our Autumn 12 Week Certificate students on Saturday November 19th 2016. Booking Essential 021 4646785 or

Teagasc Training Course
There is an Innovative/New Product Development Workshop on October 25th 2016 at the Teagasc Food Research Centre, Moorepark in Fermoy and Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ashtown in Dublin on November 25th – see

A Slow Food Autumn Foraging Walk
Join Slow Food Dublin on a foraging walk at Whole Hoggs Farm, Slane Co Meath tomorrow at 3pm. Peter Whelan and Teresa Storey will forage along the hedgerows and farmland, there will be a short demonstration using the foraged ingredients. Tickets are €15 for Slow Food Members, €20 for non-Slow Food Members.

Pumpkins and Apples
Lots of home-grown organic pumpkins and heirloom apple varieties to choose from at the Ballymaloe Cookery School Shop in Shanagarry, open Monday to Saturday, 11am-5.30pm, don’t miss Saturday Pizzas from 12.30pm-4pm

GIY Courses
Check out upcoming courses at GIY HQ for October and November.

Save-Your-Life Garlic Soup

Serves 4

This strictly bare-cupboard Provençal soup is insanely good. The ingredients are nothing more than a lot of garlic, some sage leaves, water, a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. It takes only 10 to 15 minutes to cook, but when you taste it, you’ll swear it is long-simmered chicken broth.

Like chicken broth, garlic soup is said to have all sorts of medicinal properties. It apparently can both prevent and cure hangovers, and even aid digestion. It also makes a perfect light lunch or supper on a hot summer day when you don’t much feel like cooking. Many versions—including this one—add a poached egg, which makes it more of a meal. And some cooks whisk a beaten egg into the broth to make it creamy.

2 heads garlic, preferably new-crop, separated into cloves (about 16 medium cloves) and peeled
1 1/2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
12 sage leaves
salt and pepper
1.4 litres (6 cups) water
4 eggs
4 slices bread, lightly toasted
chopped parsley, scallions, or chives

Slice or roughly chop the garlic cloves. Warm the oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and sage and let sizzle a bit without browning, about 2 minutes. Season with about 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pep-per. Add the water and bring to a boil over high heat, then lower to a brisk simmer. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Ladle about an inch of the soup into a skillet and bring to a brisk simmer over medium heat. Carefully crack the eggs into the pan and poach for about 3 minutes.

To serve, place a slice of toast in each soup bowl and top with a poached egg. Ladle the soup over the eggs and sprinkle with a little parsley.

Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Garlic and Marjoram

When you butterfly a leg of lamb, you can leave it completely plain or flavour it with lots of fresh herbs or one or a mixture of spices, giving it the flavour of the Mediterranean, the Caribbean or the British Isles.

Serves 10–15

6 garlic cloves, cut into slivers
6 tablespoons marjoram or oregano
125ml (4fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
leg of lamb, 3kg (61⁄2 lb), boned and butterflied
freshly cracked pepper
sea salt

A few hours before cooking, scatter half the slivered garlic and half the chopped marjoram or oregano over the base of a large, non-reactive dish. Drizzle with some olive oil. Slash the skin side of the meat here and there and lay it on top of the garlic and herbs. Sprinkle the remaining herbs, garlic and olive oil over the top. Season with lots of freshly cracked pepper. Cover and allow to marinade for a minimum of 2–3 hours or, better still, overnight.

Remove the meat from the marinade, season with sea salt and cook on a preheated barbecue. Grill for 30–40 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking time for medium rare. Let rest for 10 minutes and then carve into thin slices. Serve at once.

Alternatively, roast in a preheated hot oven 230ºC/450ºF/ gas mark 8 for 30–40 minutes or until cooked to your liking. Serve with lots of crusty roast potatoes, and perhaps some apple and marjoram jelly.

Lahsooni Patta

Baby spinach tossed with tomatoes, garlic and fennel.

Serves 4

2 teaspoons oil
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon freshly ground fennel powder
salt to taste
400g (14ozs) baby spinach or destalked spinach leaves
1 teaspoon butter

Heat the oil in the wok over a medium heat. Add the chopped garlic, sauté for 1 minute, add the tomato halves, then freshly ground fennel, butter and salt. Add the baby spinach leaves and toss quickly for a minute or two – just until they wilt. Serve hot.

Gill Meller’s Blackberry and Apple Meringue with Walnuts and Elder

Serves 8-12

A dash of sunflower or walnut oil
2 small medium dessert apples, quartered, cored then each quarter cut into 2 or 3 wedges
1-2 teaspoons golden caster sugar (optional)
300 ml (10½ fl oz) double cream
½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped
2 handfuls of blackberries
1 or 2 sprays ripe elderberries, berries picked
35 g (1¼ oz) shelled walnuts or hazelnuts, roughly broken

For the Meringue
4 egg whites
200 g (7 oz) golden caster sugar

Heat the oven to 120°C/235°F/gas mark 1. First make the meringue. Place the egg whites in a large clean bowl. Whisk with a hand held electric whisk until they form and hold soft peaks. (You can do this in a food mixer with a whisk attachment, if you prefer). Keeping the whisk running, add 1 large spoonful of sugar at a time until all the sugar is incorporated. Continue to whisk for a further 6-8 minutes until the meringue is thick, pale, smooth and glossy.

Lightly grease a sheet of baking parchment and lay it on a large (at least 30cm x 30cm/12 inch x 12 inch) flat baking tray. Spoon the meringue onto the parchment, trying to make a large round with slightly peaked edges – it doesn’t have to be perfect. Bake the meringue in the oven for 25-30minutes and then turn down the heat to 90°C/185°F/gas mark ½ and bake for a further 2 hours until the meringue has formed a crisp shell. (If you are not using the meringue straight away, store it in an airtight container).

Heat the oil in a non-stick pan over a medium heat, then add the apple. If the apples are a little tart, add the caster sugar and stir. Cook the apples for 4-5 minutes, turning over occasionally until they have taken on a little colour and are beginning to soften. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.

In a clean bowl, whisk the double cream with the vanilla seeds until t hick and pillowy. Spoon the cream over the meringue base spreading it roughly out towards the edges. Arrange the cooked apple pieces over the cream. Scatter the blackberries over the top.

Finally sprinkle over the broken up walnuts or hazelnuts and the elderberries, to serve.

Gather by Gill Meller, published by Quadrille Publishing

The Brother Hubbard Cookbook

Just last week one of the most keenly anticipated cookbooks of the year landed on my desk and it was certainly worth waiting for – it’s The Brother Hubbard Cookbook – however I have to declare a special interest in the author. Garrett Fitzgerald is a past student and he has an exciting story to tell.

In 2012, in the depths of the recession he and his partner James had a ‘rush of blood’ to the head and decided to open a little restaurant on Dublin’s Capel Street, literally on a ‘wing and a prayer’. Well the fledgling café called Brother Hubbard more or less took off from day one and is now much more with a team dedicated to bringing the best of breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner and baking to its evergrowing community of customers. Sister Sadie opened in September 2014 to start her own culinary journey.

The customers eagerly embraced the fresh, exciting new flavours of Garrett and his partner James’ interpretation of Middle Eastern and Southern Mediterranean food.
The adventure began several years earlier in the heady Celtic Tiger era, Garrett and James enjoyed their jobs but often found themselves, day-dreaming about doing something else. It takes mega courage to chuck in a secure job but on a bleak January morning in 2007 after a few sunny weeks in Argentina and a baking course which helped Garrett to recognise his real passion, they decided to take the plunge.

By then, having turned 30, they were acutely aware that ‘life isn’t a dress rehearsal’. An article in The Guardian about the psychology of regret really resonated.
It spelled out loud and clear, a fundamental message – “better to have a go even if it fails rather than live one’s life pondering, What if”…
It was a eureka moment. Within a few weeks Garrett had reserved a place on the Ballymaloe Cookery School Certificate course and together “myself and James jumped off the cliff, (so to speak), packed in our jobs and hit out for adventure.

After the full-on Ballymaloe Cookery School experience they headed off for two years to see the world. After a year of wandering like nomads around the markets and stalls all across India, Nepal and South East Asia, they arrived in Melbourne, famous for its casual dining and coffee scene. Garrett found himself working with two amazing women in two amazing small owner owned businesses, a café and a little artisan bakery. Both businesses were committed to quality, creativity and doing their best for their customers. What an important experience that turned out to be.

At the end of Garrett’s time in Melbourne, he had firmly made up his mind that Middle Eastern cuisine was the type of food he loved and felt particularly passionate, about vivid, fresh, vegetarian-friendly, healthy food.

Four months, to discover the authentic flavours and histories of the food in Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel and Palestine followed then back to find a devastated Ireland quite different to the one they had left during the Celtic Tiger era. What to do?

They looked around, people were still eating out but certainly seeking a more value driven experience, altogether now more careful with the €5 notes than they had been with their €50’s a few years earlier – diners wanted casual, affordable, delicious fresh tasting eclectic healthy food. The rest is history.

Can’t imagine where Garrett and James found time to write a cookbook but I’m so glad he did because here at last we now find the recipes for the favourite food from the much loved Brother Hubbard restaurant, the dishes that they get asked for over and over again, like Turkish Eggs Menemen, Moroccan Harira Soup, Middle Eastern Slaw, Harissa baked aubergine with roasted cashews and apriocts and tons more.

The book is written in a style that will inspire even the most reluctant cook to have fun and create a dish you’ll be super proud of and want to share with family and friends.
Here are just a few to whet your appetite but you may find yourself buying several copies to give to friends for Christmas – not all that far away now…

Hot Tips

Urban Co-Op, Limerick
Limerick’s first co-operative community grocery store has moved to new premises at Tait House, Roxboro Road Limerick. The Urban Co-Op supports sustainable, cooperative and social business principles. The Co-Op proudly supports local producers and currently stocks a range of organic fruit, vegetables, breads and tasty treats…. or Tel: 061 314707

Date for the Diary
Free from Ireland Intolerances Allergies & Wellbeing in Dublin October 15th & 16th and in Cork November 5th & 6th. Family oriented event with information and advice for those suffering with intolerances and allergies. Seminars, cookery demonstrations, talks, advice……

‘Saturday Pizza Masterclass’

Imagine,the perfect pizza. Its base is made from a delicious sourdough with a thin bottom and a crunchy crust. Its topping is homemade tomato sauce, the freshest buffalo mozzarella and a few leaves of basil or perhaps wild mushrooms, chorizo and homemade goat’s cheese, shrimps from Ballycotton……
In this three-hour masterclass, Philip Dennhardt of Saturday Pizzas will take you through all the basics (choosing ingredients, making dough, getting the best results from your oven and so forth) before explaining how to create both traditional and contemporary pizzas. We’re talking everything from the classics (Margherita, Pepperoni and Calzone) to modern gourmet masterpieces – think shrimp with watercress and dill-mayo and homemade cottage cheese with mint, caramelized red onion and salsa verde!
As Philip will, in essence, be cooking pizzas for the duration of the class, there will be lots to sample

Date for your Diary
Wild and Slow, November 12th & 13th 2016. The 5th Wild and Slow at Brooklodge, Macreddin Village in Co. Wicklow promises to be action packed with walks, talks, foraging, hunting, wild food dinner…watch the website for full details.

Apple Day at Borough Market
If you are in London on the weekend of 23rd October, go along to Borough Market to celebrate the huge varieties of apple, take part in the apple peeling competition and try your hand at apple pressing.

Brother Hubbard’s Yogurt, Tahini, Honey and Nuts

Ingredients per person
3–4 heaped tablespoons thick Greek yogurt
½ banana per person, chopped (or equivalent of other fruit, such as apple or melon)
½ tablespoon tahini
½ tablespoon honey
small handful of nuts, toasted and chopped
½ handful pomegranate seeds (optional)
a few fresh mint leaves

Place generous spoonfuls of the yogurt into an individual wide-bottomed bowl and add the chopped banana. Drizzle the tahini over the yogurt in a circular motion. Follow by drizzling over the honey, loosely tracing the path of the tahini. To finish, scatter the chopped nuts over the dish, then the pomegranate
seeds, if using. Finally, tear some fresh mint over it and serve.

Turkish Eggs Menemen

A vibrant, beautiful dish, this is ideal as a brunch or supper.
Serves 2 hungry people

Tomato and Roast Red Pepper Sauce (see recipe)

4 eggs
50ml cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
4 slices of good bread
knob of butter, softened
2 small handfuls of baby spinach leaves
6–8 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced (optional)

Onion Chilli Herb Mix
½ small or medium red onion
1 medium red chilli
20g fresh mint
20g fresh parsley
10g fresh dill or coriander

Feta Yoghurt
50g feta cheese
100g plain yogurt

First make the tomato and roast red pepper sauce, see recipe. Then remove the
sauce from the heat and set aside – it’s best added to the dish when it’s
quite warm but not boiling. While the sauce is simmering away, cut the red onion into the finest dice you can manage – ideally about the size of the head of a match! Cut the top off the chilli, remove the seeds with a teaspoon and then
dice the chilli very finely too, similar in size to the onion. Finely chop the stems of the herbs (except the mint), then give the leafy bits a medium chop. Mix the onion, chilli and herbs together and set aside.
Make the feta yogurt by crumbling the feta into the yogurt and adding
some black pepper (you don’t need salt because the feta is already
quite salty).
Now you’re ready for the final steps. Crack the eggs into a bowl with the
cream. Whisk well and add a little salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat. When it’s good and hot, add a dash of olive oil. You should be warming your plates and toasting your bread at this point too. Pour in the eggs and let them sit for about 20 seconds before stirring to scramble them. This dish is to be cooked very quickly, so keep scrambling. When they are nearly fully cooked but the egg is still glistening, add the tomato and pepper sauce, mixing well, and scramble further for another 20–30 seconds.
To serve, spread the toast with some butter or a drizzle of olive oil and put on each warm plate with a small handful of baby spinach leaves on top. Divide the scrambled eggs between each plate. Top with a dessertspoon of the feta yogurt, scatter over the sliced olives, if using, and finish with a few spoons of the onion chilli herb mix.

Brother Hubbard’s Beef Koftas

As with a lot of our dishes, these are full of herbs and flavour – please don’t be shy with the fresh herbs, as they make such a meaningful difference. The sauce packs a welcome punch to make these a wonderful lunch, dinner or supper. This recipe bulks up incredibly well if cooking for a larger group. It will take a bit more effort to hand-roll more koftas, but honestly, it’s worth it. In fact, this is one of my go-to recipes for entertaining at larger gatherings.

Serves 4
750g lean minced beef (rib mince is good)
150g feta cheese, crumbled
50g fresh parsley, chopped
50g fresh mint, chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely minced or crushed (2 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons dried mint
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
Tomato and Roast Red Pepper Sauce
olive oil
2 red peppers, diced into 1cm cubes
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or chopped
50ml apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoon ground star anise or fennel seeds
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
150ml water
2 tablespoon tomato purée
pinch of caster sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
To Serve

To make the sauce, heat a little oil in a medium-sized pot. Sweat the
red peppers, red onion and garlic together, covered, until softened for 10–15 minutes on a low-medium heat should do it. You want them to be well softened without falling apart too much. Next add the cider vinegar and the ground star anise or fennel seeds (if you can’t get ground star anise, use two whole ones) and simmer for about 15 minutes, keeping an eye on it to make sure the dish doesn’t dry out. Add the chopped tomatoes, water, tomato purée, sugar and seasoning. Reduce to a quite thick sauce, like pasta sauce, stirring regularly to
prevent it from sticking. When the sauce has reached your desired consistency, remove from the heat and taste, adjusting the sauce with sugar, vinegar or seasoning as you see fit – you want a really fragrant sauce that’s full of flavour. If you’ve used whole star anise, take them out at this stage. Put to one side.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 6.
To make the koftas, put all the kofta ingredients in a large bowl, reserving a quarter of the feta and a quarter of each of the fresh herbs to use later (don’t add salt, as the feta will bring saltiness to it all). Mix well with your hands until everything comes together as one, but don’t over mix or it will turn into a fine paste! When well combined, test the mix by frying a little bit in a pan with a little oil. Leave to cool for a moment and taste. This step is critical: decide if you need to add more pepper, garlic or spices if you
feel it’s needed. You can also add a little salt if you feel it’s necessary.
Adjust and repeat the tasting step if necessary until it’s just right. Using a kitchen scale, weigh out small 50g balls of the mixture – or just do one like this to get an approximate idea of how much you need, then shape the others to that size (about the size of a walnut in its shell). Form the balls into slightly oval shapes and place on a baking tray. If you’re not cooking these right away, they can be covered with cling film and refrigerated for cooking later.
To cook the koftas, we char them on a preheated griddle pan (at maximum heat) for 1–2 minutes on each side, making sure they are well browned on a few sides. A frying pan would be fine here, though you won’t get the char marks. This step sears the meat and adds additional flavour from caramelising (browning) the outside of the kofta, but see the tips and tricks for advice if you want to skip this step.
Transfer to a baking dish and pour the warm sauce over. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. If you have a thermometer probe, they should hit 71°C – if you’ve minced the meat yourself and are confident as to the quality, you may prefer them to be a little rarer. Bring the koftas to the table in the baking dish, with the remaining feta and herbs sprinkled over, for serving alongside any accompaniments (the wedding couscous, flatbread and perhaps some salad).

Otherwise, plate up the individual portions, sprinkle with the feta and herbs and
serve with the accompaniments.

Brother Hubbard’s Flourless Citrus and Coconut Cake

This is based on a recipe in one of my favourite books, The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden. This is an amazing but simple cake, lovely, soft and moist. It also just so happens to be gluten-free and dairy-free (though if you make the ganache topping, make sure your white chocolate is gluten-free). We make these as individual cupcakes.
Makes 12 individual cakes
2 oranges
1 lemon
360g caster sugar
130g coconut flour (or desiccated coconut blitzed to a fine powder)
100g fine polenta
85g ground almonds
50g desiccated coconut
5 eggs, whisked well
2 teaspoons orange blossom water (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder (gluten-free if you want the recipe to be gluten-free)
Sunflower oil, for greasing
Greek yogurt or crème fraîche, to serve

White Chocolate and Coconut Ganache
200ml coconut milk
200g white chocolate, roughly chopped
toasted coconut flakes, to decorate

First boil the oranges and lemon. Put the fruit in a pot, cover with water and pop a lid on. Bring to the boil and simmer for 40–60 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure they remain just covered with water. Once they are completely soft, drain off the water and leave to cool.
Once they are cool enough to handle, cut the tips off each piece of fruit, then cut in half and remove the seeds. They should be a soft, pulpy mess inside. Place the fruit pulp and skins in a bowl and purée in a food processor or using a stick blender. You should have a fairly smooth purée. If doing by hand, put into a saucepan and go hell for leather with a potato masher – don’t worry if it isn’t a perfectly smooth purée, as a little chunkiness is no harm.
Next preheat your oven to 180°C/350F/gas mark 6.
Put the purée in a big mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add all of the other ingredients and mix until everything is fully combined.
If using a silicone cupcake mould, brush each individual cup with a little sunflower oil. If using a metal tin, do the same or use paper cases. Spoon the batter into each cup until it’s just shy of the top by about 5mm. Pop in the oven, then immediately turn it down to 170°C and bake for 40 minutes. The cupcakes are done when you stick a clean skewer, cocktail stick or knife in the centre and it comes out clean, without any batter stuck to it. If they’re not yet at that point, pop them back into the oven and check again after 5–8 minutes. Leave to cool.
While the cakes are baking, you can make the white chocolate and coconut ganache. Heat the coconut milk in a small saucepan. When it’s near the boiling point, remove the pan from the heat and add the roughly chopped white chocolate. Stir well until the chocolate is fully melted, then leave to cool.
Spoon the cooled ganache over the top of the cooled cupcakes, decorate with toasted coconut flakes and serve with a little Greek yogurt or crème fraîche.
Stored at room temperature in an airtight container or tin, these will remain absolutely perfect for 4–5 days. In fact, the flavours come out even better after a day.

Terra Madre Salone del Gusto

Just on my way home from the Slow Food Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre in Turin. It’s a biennial event that kicks off on Friday and finishes on Monday evening.
This year the President of Italy launched the event in the beautiful Carignano Theater. There were ministers and mayors and dignitaries galore but most of the guests needed to be reminded of the President’s name, Sergio Matarella, who doesn’t appear to have reached the notoriety of his predecessor, consequently his name was unknown to many of the 7,000 delegates who had come from 143 countries worldwide.

It’s the world’s biggest food event, over 900 exhibitors and 400 events and the majority of the stalls are small to medium sized artisan producers.
For the first time this year it was held out in the open across Turin’s beautiful parks, squares, markets, museums and along the banks of the River Po.
Carlo Petrini, the messianic President of Slow Food International gave an impassioned talk on respecting farmers all over the world who labor to produce the food that nourishes us. Slow Food launched an appeal on behalf of the inhabitants of Amatrice, the area just hours east of Rome recently devastated by earthquake. Amatrice is considered by many to be the birthplace of the best cooks in Italy.

Afterwards the colourful Terra Madre parade of farmers and food producers marched through Turin in their national dress proudly carrying their national flags. The theme of this year’s event was Loving the Earth.

Ireland was represented by the Irish Slow Food Raw Milk Presidium. They were inundated with people queuing 3-4 deep wanting to buy tasting plates of Irish raw cheeses. Maria Roeleveld represented the Slow Food Raw Milk Presidium. Other Irish delegates were Aidan Dunwoody from Comeragh Mountain Lamb, Joe Fitzmaurice of Riot Rye Bakehouse and Sally Barnes of Woodcock Smokery. Molly Garvey came from Slow Food Irish Youth, Aisling Stone from Slow Food North West, Pat Warner from The Harmony Farm.

We found many wonderful foods – white plums from Monreale in Sicily, Saffron from Jiloca, cured herrings from Norway, wild figs from Macedonia, Mangalica sausage from Macedonia, wild pepper from Madagascar, Argan oil and dates from Morocco, Ilo coffee from Mozambique, Bitta orange flower from Sardinia, beautiful hazelnuts from Piedmont….

There is a universal realisation that we can no longer go on treating the earth that feeds us in the cavalier way we have been. Farmers are increasingly concerned about the diminishing fertility of the soil as a direct result of the intensive farming method encouraged since the 1950’s. Even in Ireland over 50% of our land is phosphorous deficient and 10% of soils are selenium deficient. These are elements essential for life.

There are 12 Slow Food chapters here in Ireland and a huge network worldwide. The philosophy can be summed up in just three words – Good, Clean and Fair.

  • Good – food should be wholesome, nourishing, delicious and good for us as well as the environment.
  • Clean – safe to eat and produced in a clean environment.
  • Fair – the farmers, fishermen, food producers and farm workers should be paid a fair price.

Hot Tips
Get Blogging
Join pro-blogger, Lucy Pearce, on a whistle-stop tour of the blogging world and discover the ingredients for a successful blog. You’ll see just how diverse blogging is, and how to find your own niche. In just three hours you will be fired up and ready to take the online world by storm with your own blog! Lucy will compare the different blogging platforms, highlighting their pros and cons so that you can select the best one for your blog. Then the fun begins as she gives you a guided tour behind the scenes on a blog and shows you the most useful gadgets and gizmos to use. You’ll learn the basics of blog design, how to customise basic blogging templates, the secrets behind writing popular posts, how to spread the word about your blog, how to find and keep readers. You will leave with a comprehensive set of notes to refer back to as you establish your blog, confident to build, design and grow your blog. Saturday 15th October,

The Ballinspittle Beef, Bacon, Beer and Barbecue Battle

Ballinspittle, close to Kinsale will host a Barbecue Battle on October 22nd, 2016. There are three categories Low and Slow, Thrill of the Grill and Ethnic. Amateur and Professional entries welcome. Entry forms from Diva Café in Ballinspittle, closing date 10th October. Tel: 087 233 9434 or Tim on 087 975 0557

Taste of Cork Week, 10th-16th October
As part of Taste of Cork Week, Urru is hosting a Pop Up lunch on October 15th at No 7 Bridge Street in Barry’s Tea first premises. A long table lunch hosted by West Cork artisan producers.
For more details phone Ruth Healy at Urru on 023 885 4731 or

Spice Pop UP
Another pop up to celebrate Taste Cork Week, this time Arun Kapil from Green Saffron and Canice Sharkey, chef patron of Isaacs Restaurant in MacCurtain Street, Cork will host Spice Pop Up 5 course menu on Tuesday October 11th, 8pm. Tickets are €35 including aperitif on arrival. Booking or 021 450 3805


Hazelnuts are in season at present, go for a foraging walk on the hillsides around the country, delicious eaten fresh from the shells.

Roast Piedmont Peppers with Anchovies, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Flaky Sea Salt

Roasting large red or yellow peppers intensifies the sweetness and makes them far easier to peel. Choose fat fleshly organic peppers.

There are three ways to roast peppers
1. Preheat the grill or better still use a charcoal grill or barbecue. Grill the peppers on all sides, turning them when necessary – they can be quite charred, but check the flesh is also soft.
2. Preheat the oven to 250C/475F/gas mark 9. Put the peppers on a baking tray and bake for 20-30 minutes until the skin blisters and the flesh is soft.
3. Put a wire rack over a mild gas jet, roast the pepper on all sides. When the skin is charred and the flesh is soft, remove from the heat.

When roasted by whichever method you choose, put peppers into a bowl, cover the top tightly with cling film for a few minutes, this will make them much easier to peel. Pull the skin off the peppers, remove the stalks and seeds and discard – put in the hens bucket or the compost bin. Do not wash or you will loose the precious sweet juices. Divide each pepper into 2 or 3 pieces along the natural division. Put 1-3 pieces on a plate. Lay 2 beautiful anchovies on top, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt. Serve with freshly grilled sour dough bread. Simple but divine.

Barny Haughton’s Bucatini all’ Amatriciana

The sauce for this deeply delicious and simple dish has four basic ingredients: tomatoes, shallots, chilli and bacon. But there are some rules about the ingredients:
You really need to get the right bacon; the deep flavour of a good Amatriciana comes from the rendered-down fat. The best bacon cut is guanciale (pork cheek) but a good fatty unsmoked pancetta will do fine as well. Bucatini, (like thick spaghetti) is best for the pasta but rigatoni or penne will also do well – but don’t use fresh pasta.
And finally: use pecorino not parmesan. The difference may not seem a big deal but what you get from pecorino (made from sheep’s milk) is a sharpness which works brilliantly with the rich Amatriciana sauce. Parmesan (made from cow’s milk) is sweeter and less defined in its flavour

Serves 4 people

400g guanciale or a piece of fatty pancetta
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
3 shallots very finely sliced
600g ripe tomatoes – or a 380g tin of good quality chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
80grms aged pecorino, grated
400g bucatini
olive oil

First make passata out of the tomatoes. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350/gas mark 4, place the tomatoes on a roasting tray, toss them in a little olive oil and salt and bake them for about 45 minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes and then pass through a mouli or sieve, leaving behind only the dry skin and seeds. If you have lots and lots of ripe tomatoes, for example 5 kilos, you could do as above, then reheat the passata to simmering and transfer to sterilised jars, screw the lids on tight and keep in a cool place for up to three months until needed.

Slice the guanciale into thickish rashers and then into lardons about 1cm wide. Put a splash of olive oil in the bottom of a deep solid bottomed sauté or frying pan, bring to a medium heat and put the lardon in the pan. Once they have started to fry, turn the heat down and continue to fry gently. As the fat renders down, pour it off into a bowl. Continue doing this until the lardons become crispy. Drain the remaining fat off into the bowl; put the lardons to one side. In the same pan, fry the sliced shallots until soft but not brown. Add the chilli flakes, fry a little longer, and then add the passata, bay leaves and a few twists of black pepper. Simmer gently for 25 minutes and keep warm

Cook the pasta in the normal way but make sure you cook it to just before it’s al dente. This is because you are going to finish it in the sauce for a further 30 seconds or so. Drain, toss in olive oil and put to one side.

Meanwhile, add the rendered fat to the tomato sauce and have the crispy lardons ready in a warm place. Next, add the pasta and lardons to the sauce in the frying pan, simmer for 30 seconds and serve immediately with lots of grated pecorino

Crostini di Fegatini

Serves 10-20

Crostini simply means croutons, in Italy they are served with various toppings. Chicken liver crostini are the best loved in Tuscany. I particularly love this version which was given to me by Mimmo Baldi and is served at his restaurant Il Vescovino in Panzano in the Chianti. I like to drizzle a little Vin Santo over each each crostini just as soon as it is fried in olive oil. Serve immediately – you always know when they have been served to a table because conversation stops and all one can hear is mmm, mmm!

225g (9oz) fresh chicken livers – preferably organic

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
3 anchovy fillets
20g (¾oz) capers
20g (¾oz) gherkins
3 stalks of flat parsley
100ml (4floz) port or marsala or Vin Santo
100ml (4floz) good home-made chicken stock
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
25-50g(1-2oz) freshly grated Parmesan

Vin Santo

15-20 slices of French bread 7 cm (2¾inch) approx. chargrilled, toasted or fried in olive oil until golden brown on each side.

Season the chicken livers with salt and freshly ground pepper. Sauté the chicken livers in a little olive oil in a small sauté pan over a medium heat until they are just firm, remove from the pan and drain in a sieve or colander for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the vegetables. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the dice of carrot, onion and celery cover and cook until soft – about 5-6 minutes. Add the chicken livers and cook for about 10 minutes more, then let this mixture cool for 30 minutes.
Add the anchovies, capers, gherkins and parsley to the livers chop roughly, taste and correct the seasoning.
Reheat this mixture, add the port, marsala or Vin Santo and reduce until all the liquid has been absorbed, then add the chicken stock. The mixture should have a moist creamy consistency. Taste and correct seasoning.
Just as soon as the croutons are fried or toasted drizzle with Vin Santo, spread with a generous amount of the fegatini mixture and serve immediately.

Serving suggestion
To make a more substantial plate, add a few ruffles of freshly sliced Parma ham and some rocket leaves – one of my favourite starters.

Tira Misu

The name means pick-me-up and not surprising either considering the amount of booze! This is a fairly recent Italian pudding which seems to have originated in Venice but which is now served in restaurants all over Italy, and it always tastes different. We’ve had rave reviews for this version which is very easily put together. Mascarpone cheese, which is an essential ingredient, is now becoming more widely available.

Serves 8

38-40 Boudoir biscuits
12 fl oz (350 ml/1 1/2 cups) strong espresso coffee (if your freshly) made coffee is not strong enough, add 1 teaspoon of instant coffee)
3 tablespoons (4 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) brandy
3 tablespoons (4 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) Jamaica rum
3 ozs (75g) dark chocolate
3 eggs, separated, preferably free range
3 tablespoons (4 American tablespoons) castor sugar
9 ozs (255g/1 generous cup) Mascarpone cheese

Unsweetened Cocoa (Dutch process)

Dish 10 x 8 inches (25.5 x 20.5cm) with low sides or 1lb loaf tin (8 x 4 inches (20.5 x 10cm) lined with cling film

Mix the coffee with the brandy and rum. Roughly grate the chocolate (we do it in the food processor with the pulse button). Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until it reaches the ‘ribbon’ stage and is light and fluffy, then fold in the Mascarpone a tablespoon at a time.

Whisk the egg whites stiffly and fold gently into the cheese mixture. Now you are ready to assemble the Tira Misu.

Dip each side of the boudoir biscuits one at a time into the coffee mixture and arrange side by side in the dish or tin. Spread half the Mascarpone mixture gently over the biscuits, sprinkle half the grated chocolate over the top, then another layer of soaked biscuits and finally the rest of the Mascarpone. Cover the whole bowl or loaf tin carefully with cling film or better still slide it into a plastic bag and twist the end. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours – I usually make it the day before I use it.

Just before serving scatter the remainder of the chocolate over the top and dredge with unsweetened cocoa.

Note: Tiramisu will keep for several days in a fridge, but make sure it is covered so that it doesn’t pick up ‘fridgie’ tastes.

*Mascarpone, a delicious rich creamy cheese which originated in Lodi in Lombardy is made by curdling cream with citric acid. It is often used instead of cream with fruit and pastries.

Fritto di Bosco Italian Fruit Salad

Serves 4-6

This recipe made in seconds makes a delicious fresh fruit salad. Use the best fruit you can find – the combination can vary. Marcella Hazan made it for me with wild berries from the woods and it was quite exquisite. She dressed it at the table just before we ate it.

4 ozs (110g/1 cup) blackberries
4 ozs (110g/1 cup) blueberries
4 ozs (110g/1 cup) wild strawberries (fraises du bois) or small strawberries
4 ozs (110g/ 1 cup) raspberries
1 or 2 peaches or nectarines
2-4 tablespoons (2 1/2 – 5 American tablespoons) golden caster sugar
juice of 1/2-1 lemon
lots of fresh mint leaves

Combine the berries and the sliced peaches or nectarines in a bowl. Sprinkle the sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice over the fruit, toss gently. Tear lots of fresh mint leaves into the fruit, stir gently, taste and add sugar or juice if necessary.
Serve immediately.

Sospiri di Monaca
Nuns’ Sighs

Makes 40

These delicious little hazelnut meringues are made all over Sicily. The myth of nuns being trapped inside the convent walls fantasizing about what they may be missing is popular in many parts of Italy and lots of confections are made, supposedly to cheer up the good sisters!

7 ozs (200g/scant 1½ cups) hazelnuts
4 egg whites, preferably free range
10 ozs (285g/2½ cups) icing sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/regulo 4.
Spread the hazelnuts out on a baking tray and put into the preheated oven for 15 minutes approx. or until the skins loosen. Rub off the skins in a tea towel and chop the nuts as finely as possible.
Put the egg whites and the sieved icing sugar into a spotlessly clean bowl and whisk until the mixture reaches stiff peaks. Gently fold in the chopped hazelnuts and lemon zest. Spoon out the meringue in generous blobs with a teaspoon on to baking sheets lined with silicone paper or oiled tin foil. Tease the little blobs into tear shapes. Bake at 150C/300F/regulo 2 for 45 minutes. Allow to cool.
Serve with a cup of coffee. They are also wonderful with a few raspberries or a perfect peach and a blob of cream.
Note: Like all meringues Nuns’ Sighs will keep for ages in an airtight tin.

Taste of West Cork Festival

Just spent what I like to think are the last few days of summer in West Cork but of course in reality it’s most definitely Autumn no matter how hard I try to kid myself. My ‘last hurrah’ before I throw myself into the Autumn term co-incided with the Taste of West Cork festival, an extraordinary fortnight of random events dreamed up by a small committee of super charged individuals who are determined to celebrate and highlight what is unique about West Cork and lengthen the tourist season for as many people as possible in the greater area.

I’ve watched this festival develop gradually over the past 6 years, ebbing and flowing but this year there were 188 events taking place in 32 towns and villages and on eight islands, an inspired mix of themed dinners, cookery demonstrations, storytelling, foraging, cocktail making, Ilen River cruises with afternoon tea….You could roam with the buffalo on Johnny Lynch’s Farm near Macroom and taste the tender mozzarella, good enough to rival anything coming out of Italy. Learn how to smoke fish in Ummera or Union Hall smokehouse who scooped the top awards at the West Cork Artisan Food Awards. I learned how to save seeds with the seed saving hero Madeline McKeever of Brown Envelope Seeds.

Over 400 people turned up to St Patrick’s National School in Skibbereen to hear Mary Clear, the dynamic founder of the Incredible Edible project in Todmorden. I went along to visit and met Alan Foley and Brian Granaghan, the people behind the schools impressive and award winning garden.
There’s a Geodome, willow tunnel, amphitheatre, wormery, composting area, insect hotel, raised beds….

John Desmond of Island Cottage gave a demonstration of how to make a classic chocolate mousse on the pier on Heir Island.
The artisan food producers flung open their doors and travelled to share their stories and their produce with their many fans. There were cycles and walks on the wild side, golf events, kayaking and sailing all connected to food and the beautiful seafood of West Cork.

In the midst of it all the prestigious West Cork Artisan Food Awards winners included Gubbeen Farmhouse and Woodcock Smokery were joint overall winner of the Awards. Union Hall Smoked Fish took the top award, West Cork Pies were also award winners, Newcomer Award was West Cork Eggs, Mella’s Fudge, O’ Neill’s Allihies Sea Salt, Claire’s Hummus, Thornhill Organics, Tess and the Glebers at Glebe Gardens, John and Sarah Devoy, Rosscarbery….see for the full list.

Susan Holland and Ian Parr late of the Custom House in West Cork came back from France to cook a dinner at the Boat House at Inish Beg – a ‘sell out’ of course and a nostalgic trip down memory lane for their many fans. Glebe Café hosted Danni Barry from EIPIC in Belfast, loved the meal she cooked as a celebration of the food from Glebe Gardens and superb beef from Walsh’s butcher shop in Skibbereen.

Visitors flocked into the West Cork area. Many events were totally sold out, over 400 people turned up to a tour of the West Cork Distillery in Skibbereen. ‘An Afternoon of Michael Collins’ included a demonstration of griddle baking over the open fire. Visits to farms – Glen Ilen and Devoys organic farm, fermentation and pickling workshops, beekeeping including an inspirational workshop at Gurranes with Trevor Dannann, a certified natural beekeeper at the age of 16 and owner of 12 hives.

Numerous cookery demonstrations and several food forums including attendees described as ‘life changing’. Our Farms, Our Food, Our Future organized by Majella O’ Neill. Among the speakers were Professor Ted Dinan of UCC who spoke about the connection between our gut flora and the brain.

Dr Don Huber award winning international scientist and Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology at Purdue University, Indiana, USA, leading GM expert in the world who shared his research into the effects of glyphosate and GM on public health, all presentations were recorded and will be available.

So many brilliant events to choose from, impossible to get to more than 2 or 3 into a day. Every town from Clonakilty to Bantry, Rosscarbery to Sherkin Island, Castletownshend to Bandon and everywhere in between was ‘rocking’.

Skibbereen is on a roll, one can feel the energy and optimism. There was something happening in every parish, every pub, restaurant, café, farm and dairy. West Cork was bursting with pride and justifiably celebrating what is unique and magical about this extraordinary part of Ireland. There are food fairs, festivals and carnivals all over the country nowadays so it’s really tough to have a USP to attract an almost jaded public but the Taste of West Cork is certainly a model worth looking at. Congrats to each and everyone involved.

Hot Tips

Gluten Free Cooking
Can you imagine really delicious breads, cakes, pastries…
As anyone who is coeliac, or who cooks for someone who has gluten intolerance, will testify it can be challenging to produce really delicious, balanced meals. Finally, help is to hand – on Saturday October 8th this intensive half day course is ideal for those on a gluten-free diet who face the dilemma of longing to taste ‘real’ food. You’ll learn about a whole range of tasty and easy-to-prepare dishes including gluten-free sweet and savoury pastry, crackling salmon with coriander pesto and gluten free raspberry muffins. Suddenly, cooking for coeliacs will become a pleasure not a chore. Advice on alternative ingredients and lots of baking tips will help take the mystery out of successful gluten-free cooking.

Sunday Roasts
Is there anything more comforting than the perfect Sunday roast? The very words conjure up evocative images of family and friends gathered together around the kitchen or dining-room table with delicious aromas of roasties and gravy permeating the house. Every good cook takes pride in being able to produce a delicious roast dinner with all the trimmings, and it’s no mean feat!
On Friday 14th October, we will show you how to choose and turn the best cuts of beef, lamb, chicken and pork into the most impressive roast dishes; plus whip up gravies and sauces bursting with flavour; and hone your carving skills as well.
After the cooking session, we will all sit down together to enjoy the Sunday roasts with all the trimmings.

The Taste Magazine
Food lovers who want to keep on top of the Irish food scene check out The Taste which has won best digital food magazine at the Gourmand Awards 2016 and best online magazine at the Irish bloggers association awards 2016.

Danni Barry’s Beetroot Baked in Salt and Rye with Goat’s Curd and Toasted Seeds

Danni cooked a deliciously simple meal at Glebe Gardens during the Taste of West Cork Food Festival

Serves 4

2 large red beetroot
2 large golden beetroot
200g Leggygowan Farm goat’s curd

For the salt and rye crust
300g strong flour
200g rye flour
200g coarse sea salt
6 juniper berries
1 orange zest
200-250ml cold water

For the beetroot and raspberry dressing
120ml Broighter Gold rapeseed oil
30ml raspberry vinegar
50g red beetroot trim
Rainbow chard

For the toasted seeds
60g sunflower seeds
50g brown linseeds/flaxseed

Heat the oven to 200ËšC.

For the salt dough, crush the juniper seeds and add to the flours, salt and orange zest. Make a hole in the middle and add the water in three stages, mixing until a dough forms. Wrap in cling film and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes.

Wash the beetroots and dry them thoroughly. Roll out the dough and wrap around each beetroot individually, place on a baking tray and put straight into the hot oven. (It is important not to leave the dough wrapped beetroots sitting for too long before baking, as the salt will start to draw out moisture from the beetroot and the dough will breakdown.)

After eight minutes, turn down the oven to 180ËšC and continue to cook for 40 minutes.

When ready, crack open the crust and peel the beetroots while still warm. Cut into five-inch discs and place 50g of the excess in a saucepan with the raspberry vinegar.

Warm gently for ten minutes and pass through a sieve. Mix with the rapeseed oil while warm to make the dressing.

Toast the seeds on a tray in the oven and season.

To assemble the plate, layer the beetroots and goats curd, and dress generously.

Wilt some rainbow chard in a hot pan with a little oil and dress with the raspberry vinegar. Place on top of the beetroots, then spoon over the toasted seeds.

Danni Barry from EIPIC Restaurant in Belfast


No Knead Bread

Susan has been making this bread, created by Jim Lahey from Sullivan St Bakery in New York, successfully for many years
The bread must be made the day before you need it.

430g of strong bread flour
345mls of water, Susan use’s spring water as tap water often has additives that inhibit the rise.
1/4 teaspoon of dried yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon of salt
extra flour or bran or semolina for dusting table top.
In a large mixing bowl add and mix all dry ingredients.

Add water and incorporate by hand or a wooden spoon or spatula for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Once it forms a ball cover the bowl with cling film and let the dough rise at room temperature (warmish) for 12 to 15 hours.
The very slow rise gives the bread its sour dough aspect, i.e., large holes, and it’s the slow rise that makes it not necessary to knead.

Remove the dough from the bowl and fold once or twice. This should be done with a scraper on the work surface as the dough is very wet. Shape into a ball. Leave the dough to rest about 30 minutes.
Next preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6.

Place an oven proof pot with lid in the oven to preheat. Susan uses a Le Creuset cast iron or Pyrex with lid (pot should have a capacity of 7 litres.)

Susan explains the reason for baking in a cast iron pot with lid, is that the covered pot traps humidity and forms the crust.

Once the dough has doubled in size (about 30 minutes) remove the pot from the oven and place dough in the pot seam side up. Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake 15 to 30 minutes uncovered until the loaf is nicely brown.
Susan slips the loaf onto a strip of parchment paper and put it into the pot on the paper. It makes it easier to handle.

Susan Holland’s Ceviche

This ceviche was one of the courses that Susan ‘cooked’ and served at Inish Beg during the Taste of West Cork Food Festival.

For a starter

100gs per person of VERY fresh lemon sole or brill, filleted and skinned and cut into thin strips.

Cover completely with fresh lime juice and leave in fridge for about 3 hours until the fish is “cooked”” i.e. opaque

Drain the fish, and assemble the plate.

Start with thin slices of avocado, then the fish, then very thin slices of celery for crunch, then strips of cucumber. Dress with good extra virgin olive oil and pinch of Maldon sea salt or equivalent.

Susan also likes to use fennel pollen when in season, in September. Or pink peppercorns or toasted sesame seeds.

Susan uses a mandolin for slicing the vegetables and a peeler for the cucumber.


Takashi Miyazaki’s Pan Fried Mackerel with Teriyaki Ginger Sauce

We greatly enjoyed Takashi’s simple Japanese cooking at the Riverside Café during the Taste of West Cork Food Festival.
Serve 1
Teriyaki Sauce
10ml mirin
10ml sake
30g brown sugar
50ml Kikkoman dark soy sauce
1 whole mackerel (fillet)
10ml oil
3g ginger (finely chopped)
50ml teriyaki sauce
1 pinch white sesame

Place mirin, sake, brown sugar and soy sauce into sauce pan and turn heat on until boiled.
Turn off the heat when the sauce boil and place sauce into container.
Heat the pan over medium high heat and pour oil on the pan.
Put mackerel fillet (skin side down) onto the pan and fry until skin gets crispy.
Flip mackerel over and turn heat down until cooked.
When mackerel cooked, pour teriyaki sauce over on mackerel and toss chopped ginger.
Cook as low heat until sauce gets thick.
Place mackerel on the plate and pour sauce over the mackerel, garnish with white sesame.

Takashi Miyazaki’s Miso soup

Serve 4
750ml water
5g Irish sugar kelp (dried)
100g miso paste
50g silken tofu (diced)
20g Atlantic dillisk
5g fresh chives, chopped

Place water and sugar kelp into the pot and bring to a boil.
Turn heat down to low when it reaches a boil, take sugar kelp out from pot (sugar kelp stock)
Add miso into sugar kelp dashi stock and mix with whisk until miso dissolved.
Add tofu and dillisk.
Pour miso soup into soup bowl and sprinkle freshly chopped chives on top.

Takashi Miyazaki’s Japanese Steamed Rice

Serve 3-4
2 cups Japanese rice
2¼ cups water
1 pinch black sesame
How to wash Japanese rice properly — it needs three steps!!
Rinsing: Place rice in a bowl; pour water quickly into bowl until it covers the rice completely. To wash the rice, use one hand to mix the rice around with brisk, light movements. Pour out all the water. Repeat this rinsing 3 times.

Polishing: With fingers curled as though holding a ball, insert your hand into the rice and, using a constant rhythm and pace, rub the grains of rice around several times.

Final Rinsing: add plenty of fresh water; mix again lightly and quickly drain it off. Repeat steps 4-5 until the water runs nearly clear.

Drain rice into sieve and leave for 30 minutes. Place rice and water into a heavy pot.

Cover the pot with lid and set over a high heat. When the water starts to boil to blow, turn heat down to low and cook about 12 minutes.

Turn off the heat and leave the pot in warm place, leave 10 minutes.

Turn over the rice thoroughly with a flat rice paddle or wooden spoon. Put the lid back on and 8 minutes.

Place rice into rice bowl and sprinkle black sesame on the top.

John Desmond’s Classic Chocolate Mousse

125 g dark chocolate
125 g milk chocolate
50 g unsalted butter
5 eggs yolks
8 egg whites
50 g sugar
1 espresso cup of strong coffee
Cleaning of Copper bowl
5 g salt
10 ml red wine vinegar

Break up 125 g dark chocolate and 125 g milk chocolate, put into large bowl with 50 g of unsalted butter, place over a larger bowl of boiling water. Separate 8 eggs, keeping 5 yolks and 8 whites for the mousse.
If using a copper bowl, thoroughly clean it with salt and vinegar, rinse and dry. Put 8 egg whites into whatever you are using and whisk until stiff, add 50 g sugar, keep whisking until sugar has dissolved.
Add espresso coffee and 5 egg yolks to chocolate mixture, gentle whisk until incorporated, then add a quarter of the beaten egg white mixture, whisk thoroughly, gently fold in the remaining egg white mixture. Put into a flat bottom container and refrigerate overnight. It can also be put into individual bowls. It will keep refrigerated for a few days.


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