ArchiveNovember 2016

Eat Less Meat

Mary Robinson really put the ‘cat among the pigeons’ recently when she called on people from developed nations to consider eating “less meat or no meat at all”, due to the toll its production takes on the environment.  Her address to 1,300 current and future young world leaders from 196 nations at the One Young World Summit in Ottawa caused quite a stir around the world but particularly here in Ireland.

The remarks drew a tirade of condemnation from several farming organisations and rural TD’s who seemed to assume this statement was aimed directly at them.

Irish beef farmers are understandably particularly sensitive having been directly affected by the fall in the value of sterling as a result of Brexit.

Because of the quantity of methane and slurry produced by animals,   livestock rearing is seen as a major contribution to greenhouse gases. However, here in Ireland our dairy and beef animals are primarily, though not completely, grass fed so consequently they produce much less gas than grain fed animals reared in intensive feed lot systems.    A fact that needs to be repeated loud and clear… We are not comparing like with like, it’s simply not the same thing.

Ireland can grow grass like virtually nowhere else in the world so surely it makes sense for our farmers to produce good beef for export to areas that are not so favoured by nature. The quality of Irish beef is highly esteemed, was recently served at the Breeder’s Cup in California on the invitation of the organisers. Good Food Ireland was partnered by Dawn Meats and Bord Bia to showcase Irish beef at this super high profile event considered to be the ‘richest two days in sport’

However, back to Mary Robinson, we must be careful not to ‘shoot the messenger’. There’s no doubt that many people nowadays eat far more meat than is beneficial for their health.

Much of that meat is produced in extremely intensive units which raise animal welfare and chemical input concerns.

Although I eat mostly plants, copious amounts of vegetables, fresh herbs and wild foods, I’m certainly not a vegetarian. I love good meat but increasingly find myself eating less meat but better quality totally free range and organic. I am happy to pay more to those who are rearing animals and poultry in a more extensive way.

We urgently need a system where food producers can be identified and rewarded for producing a superior product. We also need to create a new paradigm where the contribution of organic and chemical free farmers to the environment is acknowledged in tax breaks.

So Mary Robinson would like us to consider a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle for the sake of the planet and future generations.  Scientists have confirmed that a widespread change in our eating habits would cut food related emissions by two thirds. Nonetheless many are reluctant to forego meat altogether.

Nonetheless, we can’t ignore the validity of the arguments so why not seek out an organic chicken. It will cost you €18-€22 as opposed to €3.50 –Ouch……. and that’s if you can even find one.  That is the real price of rearing and feeding a chicken with organic GM free feed for approximately three times the length of the bargain chicken without antibiotics, hormones, growth promoters or anti-depressants. Organic always means free range but free range certainly does not mean organic. Free range is a very ‘elastic term’, so ask some questions…..

So back to the days when chicken was a ‘once a week’ or even once a month treat and every single scrap was used, liver for pâté, giblets, carcass and feet for a fine pot of stock soup or broth – there’s nothing more nourishing or restorative particularly if you are feeling slightly poorly – it’s not called ‘Jewish penicillin’ for nothing.

Pork, too needs careful sourcing to find organic or chemical free.  Close to us here in East Cork, we have Woodside Farm where Martin and Noreen Conroy and their family work hard to provide us with beautiful heritage breed Saddleback pork and bacon, only problem they simply can’t keep up with demand – catch up with them at Midleton and Douglas on Saturday, Mahon on Thursday and Wilton Farmers Markets on Tuesday.

In Curraghchase in County Limerick Caroline Rigney and her husband Joe also do the same.

Mary’s right in many ways. We have to change; we simply cannot go on with ‘business as usual’. For the sake of our children, great grandchildren and the planet, we all need to commit to the Paris Agreement. Each and every one of us needs to think about our carbon footprint – we can each make a vital difference.

So here are some recipes, tasty, delicious and super nutritious that use just a little less meat.

Hot Tips

Sustainable Food Trust Conference with a focus on Sustainable Food and Health at Bristol University, November 23rd 2016.

Guest Speaker Joel Salatin will speak about The Role of Livestock in Future Farming Systems. Contact for further information.

Sushi made Simple

Scared to tackle sushi yourself?

On Wednesday November 30th we will take the mystery out of making sushi. We will start by explaining the ingredients, basic equipment and techniques required, giving you the confidence to serve it to guests at home or in a restaurant. We will use fresh fish straight from the boats in  Ballycotton Bay to create sublime sushi and sashimi. Sushi gets the ‘thumbs up’ from cardiologists and nutritionists – not least because it is based mainly on fresh fish, seaweed, vegetables and rice, but it is also low in saturated fat, high in vital omega 3s and rich in vitamins and minerals. Students will have the opportunity to taste all the dishes prepared during the demonstration.

Scalloped Potatoes with Beef and Kidney

Tons of flavour, for just a little beef. Season well and serve with some good butter.

Serves 6

2 1/2-3 lbs (1.1-1.35kg) potatoes

1 lb (450g) well hung stewing beef

1 beef kidney

3/4 lb (350g) onions, chopped

2 – 2 1/2 ozs (50-70g/2 – 2 1/2 sticks) butter

water or stock

salt and freshly ground pepper


chopped parsley

A presentable oval casserole

Remove the skin and white core from the kidney and discard, cut the flesh into 1/2 inch (1cm) cubes, put into a bowl, cover with cold water and sprinkle with a good pinch of salt. Cut the beef into 1/2 inch (1cm) cubes also. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/4 inch (5mm) thick slices, put a layer of potato slices on the base of the casserole. Drain the kidney and mix with the beef, scatter some of the meat and chopped onion over the layer of potato. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper, dot with butter, add another layer of potato, more meat, onions and seasoning and continue right up to the top of the casserole, finish with an overlapping layer of potato. Fill with stock it will take approx. 13 fl ozs (375ml/1 1/2 cups). Bring to the boil, cover and cook in a preheated slow oven 150ºC/300°F/regulo 2, for 2 – 2 1/2 hours or until the meat is cooked. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve from the casserole with lots of butter.

Chicken Broth with Julienne of Vegetables

1.5 litres (2 1/2 pints/6 1/4 cups) of well-flavoured homemade chicken stock (see recipe)


50g (2oz) carrots

50g (2oz) celery

50g (2oz) white turnip

50g (2oz) leeks

flat parsley

4 spring onions, cut at an angle

First julienne the vegetables.

Peel and cut the carrot, celery, turnip and leek into very thin julienne strips

Heat the broth, add the julienne, bring back to the boil and simmer gently until the vegetables are just cooked, 5-6 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and scatter with lots of flat leaf parsley and spring onion.

Baby Beef Scallopini with Lemon

We do not serve intensively reared veal either at Ballymaloe House or at the Cookery School but once or twice a year we have naturally reared milk fed calf from our own Jersey or Kerry bull calves.  The meat is not so pale as conventional veal but is wonderfully sweet and delicious.

Serves 6

675g (1½ lb) Lean Baby Beef from the top round

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Flour, well-seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper

Beaten egg

Fresh white breadcrumbs

Clarified butter

Lemon segments

With a very sharp knife cut the top round into ¼ thick slices across the grain.  Trim off any fat or sinews.  Put between 2 sheets of cling film and flatten a little more with a meat pounder or rolling pin.

Dip each piece in well seasoned flour, beaten egg and soft white breadcrumbs.  Pat off the excess.

Melt 3 or 4 tablespoons of clarified butter in a wide frying pan.  Fry the scallopini, a few at a time until crisp and golden on one side then flip over onto the other.  Drain briefly on kitchen paper.  Serve hot with segments of lemon.

Lamb Stew with Bacon, Onions and Garden Herbs

Serves 6

The word stew is often associated in these islands with not very exciting mid week dinners. People tend to say almost apologetically, oh its only stew, no matter how delicious it is.

Well, let me tell you they smack their lips in France at the mere mention of a great big bubbling stew and now these gutsy, comforting pots are appearing on many of the smartest restaurant menus.

3 lb (1.3kg) gigot or rack chops from the shoulder of lamb not less than 2.5cm (1 inch thick)

12 oz (350g) green streaky bacon (blanch if salty)

seasoned white flour, preferably unbleached

a little butter or oil for sauteeing

1 lb (450g) onions, (baby ones are nicest)

1 lb (350g) carrot, peeled and thickly sliced

1 3/4 pints (750ml) approx. lamb or chicken stock

12 ‘old’ potatoes (optional)

sprig of thyme

roux – optional

Mushroom a la Crème (optional)


Lots of freshly chopped parsley

Cut the rind off bacon and cut into approx. 1/2 inch (1cm) cubes blanch if salty and dry in kitchen paper. Divide the lamb into 12 pieces and roll in seasoned flour. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and sauté the bacon until crisp, remove and put in a casserole. Add the lamb to the pan and sauté until golden then add to the bacon in the casserole. Heat control is crucial here, the pan mustn’t burn yet it must be hot enough to sauté the lamb. If it is cool the lamb will stew rather than sauté and as a result the meat may be tough. Then quickly sauté the onions and carrots, adding a little butter if necessary, and put them into the casserole. Degrease the sauté pan and deglaze with the stock, bring to the boil, pour over the lamb.

Cover the top of the stew with peeled potatoes (if using) and season well. Add a sprig of thyme and bring to simmering point on top of the stove, cover the pot and then put into the oven for 45-60 minutes, 180C/350F/regulo 4. Cooking time depends on how long the lamb was sautéed for.

When the casserole is just cooked, strain off the cooking liquid, degrease and return degreased liquid to the casserole and bring to the boil. Thicken with a little roux if necessary. Add back in the meat, carrots, onions and potatoes, bring back to the boil.

The casserole is very good served at this point, but it’s even more delicious if some Mushroom a la Crème is stirred in as enrichment. Serve bubbling hot sprinkled with lots of chopped parsley.


Lamb Stew with Haricot Beans

Add 8oz (225g) of precooked haricot beans to the stew about two-thirds of the way through cooking, omit the potatoes. This will add even more nourishment.

Substitute half the Tomato Fondue recipe for the Mushroom a la Crème recipe and you will have quite a different but equally delicious stew.

Add 1 teaspoon each of freshly roasted cumin and coriander seeds in with the carrots and onions and proceed as in master recipe.

Chicken Stock

This recipe is just a guideline. If you have just one carcass and can’t be bothered to make a small quantity of stock, why not freeze the carcass and save it up until you have six or seven carcasses and giblets, then you can make a really good-sized pot of stock and get best value for your fuel.

Stock will keep for several days in the refrigerator. If you want to keep it for longer, boil it up again for 5–6 minutes every couple of days; allow it to get cold and refrigerate again. Stock also freezes perfectly. For cheap containers, use large yogurt cartons or plastic milk bottles, then you can cut them away from the frozen stock without a conscience if you need to defrost it in a hurry!

I’ve recently come across some very good Silkie chickens reared by Sean Ring from Castlecomer in Co Kilkenny. We can get them with their feet and heads on which adds immeasurably to the flavour and nourishment of the broth…not for everyone I know….

Makes about 3.5 litres (6 pints/15 cups)

2–3 raw or cooked chicken carcasses or a mixture of both giblets from the chicken (neck,  heart, gizzard – save the liver for a different dish)

1 onion, sliced

1 leek, split in two

2 outside celery stalks or 2 lovage leaves

1 carrot, cut into chunks

a few parsley stalks

sprig of thyme

6 peppercorns

Chop up the carcasses as much as possible. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and cover with about 3.4 litres (7 pints/17 1/2 cups) cold water. Bring to the boil. Skim the fat off the top with a tablespoon. Simmer for 3–4 hours. Strain and remove any remaining fat. Do not add salt.

National Bread Week

I’m a bit late for National Bread Week which was from the 9th -15th October but I certainly wanted to write a column on bread and our national loaf, a subject which continues to exercise me.

I’m totally in despair at the quality of our squishy sliced bread and deeply concerned about the effects on our health and waistline, many not least the Bakers Association of Ireland would disagree with me and I certainly hope they are right. I myself can’t seem to find out what exactly is in the bread, an enormously important staple for many people. Flour, yeast, salt, water, so far so good but what else to speed up the process and produce a loaf at this price.

The term ‘processing aids’ seems to cover a multitude of enzymes, improvers and preservatives which don’t have to be put on the labels as ‘processing aids’ are exempt, so much for transparency….

The good news however is that in pockets here and there around the country, artisan bakeries are bubbling up in response to the craving for real bread.

In Cork City, Declan Ryan came out of retirement in 1999 and started to bake real bread in his garage which morphed into a large bakery employing eight full time bakers in Mayfield.

Declan sells at Farmers Markets and specialist shops as far away as Dublin. He, like many others who were inspired by him can scarcely keep up with demand.

Also in the Cork area – ABC Breads in the English Market and Pavel Piatrousky from Pana Bread in Midleton have their loyal devotees.

Another of the pioneers, Sarah Richards who established Seagull Bakery in Tramore in 2013 was also inspired by Declan Ryan.

In January 2015, the Real Bread Ireland was started by a small group of craft bakers as a support network for those who wished to learn how to make real bread either professional or at home.

So what exactly is Real Bread? Well, in its purest form, it is bread without the use of processing aids or any other artificial additives. Real Bread is made without improvers, dough conditioners, preservatives, chemical leavening (baking powder or bicarbonate of soda) any other artificial additives or the use of pre mixed ingredients.

That pretty much rules out 90% of the bread on our supermarket shelves but the good news is there’s a quiet revolution going on at grass roots level, small craft bakers are popping up here and there around the country, the use of organic and heirloom flours is increasing significantly, the general public is becoming aware that something is amiss as the number of people with a gluten intolerance continues to sky rocket.

A growing body of disquieting research is emerging on the effects of the random use of glyphosate on wheat both as a herbicide and before harvesting on our health and the environment.

Making a long and slowly fermented sourdough is certainly a mission’ but a loaf of soda bread, the traditional breads of our country is literally mixed in minutes. A few scones will be out of the oven in 10 or 12 minutes while a crusty loaf will be ready in 35 or 40.

Few things we do, give so much pleasure and nourishment for so little effort. A truly nourishing, wholesome national loaf would do much to enhance the health of the nation. This was done in Norway in the 1970’s with remarkable results.

Here are several recipes for a variety of breads but for those who would like to get started on sourdough and believe me, once you do there’s no going back.

Check out the Real Bread website.

Many bakers including the Ballymaloe Cookery School will share some of their sourdough starter free with keen beginners. (Please telephone ahead).
Meanwhile, be careful, much of the bread that’s sold as ‘sourdough’ contains yeast which is not at all the same as a natural sourdough.

Shipton Mill Flour
John Lister was only 20 when he and a few friends chanced upon the ruined Shipton Mill in the Cotswolds. They restored both the building and the mill wheel and started to stonegrind organic flour in the 1980s. Shipton Mill quickly developed a cult following among the growing number who were anxious to source organic flour milled in the time honoured way. In recent years the demand for ancient grains has really gathered momentum, kamut, einkorn, spelt, durum, amaranth, buckwheat, chestnut, teff, sorghum, quinoa….now the next generation is happily and passionately involved – John’s daughter Tess recently wrote a Handful of Flour Recipes from Shipton Mill published by Headline which shares the knowledge and tells the story of the bread revolution.
Another ‘must have’ for ‘wannabe’ bread makers is Andrew Whitley’s Bread Matters published by Fourth Estate.


A Pop Up Dinner at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. A Rediscovery of Forgotten Flavours and Foraged Foods hosted by the Autumn Certificate students on Saturday November 19th, 7pm. Booking Essential 021 4646785 or Tickets €45.00, proceeds raised go towards the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project.

Decorating Celebration Cakes

Cake decorating is an art form – but one that can be learnt. Pam is a senior tutor at the Cookery School for many years now and on Saturday November 26th from 2-5pm, will wow you with her magic as she pipes, drizzles and adorns cakes into edible masterpieces. She will share piping tips and tricks and use all manner of icings from marzipan, to buttercreams, ganaches and glaces and show how to use edible flowers and fruits for the ultimate stylish presentation. From decorating simple birthday cakes to fancy celebration cakes, formal and informal, fun and quirky, she is full of innovative ideas. Whether you are a home baker, run a café or are a professional cook, this course is not to be missed. This is a demonstration course, but there will be an opportunity to taste some of the cakes.

Shipton Mill Burger Buns

These buns are perfect for a variety of barbecued meats, not just burgers. They taste great with pulled pork, or slow cooked beef with relish. You need a bun light enough not to be overly heavy once packed with its filling, but substantial enough to keep its shape and not fall to pieces in your hands.
If you want to add seeds to the top, lightly spray water on top of the buns just before they are about to go in the oven and sprinkle over onion, sesame or poppy seeds. The dough is subtly enriched, to make the bun more luxurious than a standard floury burger bap.

Makes 10 burger buns

190g water
70g Wheat Sourdough Starter for flavour, not for fermentation purposes (if you don’t want to use this you can add 35g more flour and 35g more water instead)
10g fresh yeast
500g strong white flour (ciabatta flour also works well)
1 small egg, beaten
60g rapeseed oil (or sunflower oil), plus a little extra for the bowl
30g sugar
10g salt
semolina, for dusting
Mix the water and starter together in a mixing bowl and add the yeast. Slowly stir until combined then add the flour.

Place the egg, rapeseed oil, sugar and salt in a separate bowl and combine by hand using a fork. Add this to the flour mix and slowly stir to create a dough, until the ingredients are evenly incorporated.

Knead the dough (either by hand or using an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook) until it is elastic and smooth, with a lovely shine.Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a cloth, and rest at room temperature for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Place your semolina in a large wide plate. Divide your dough into ten 80–90g lumps.

Roll these by hand into round roll shapes, then roll them all over in the semolina, and place them on a baking tray. (If you want to sprinkle the tops with seeds, just roll the base in the semolina and keep the top clear.)

Keep them at least 8cm apart to allow them to rise. Cover, and leave them to prove at room temperature for a further 2 hours, or until doubled in size. Towards the end of this time preheat your oven to 180ºC/gas 4.

Place around 12 ice cubes in an ovenproof dish in the bottom of your oven to create steam. Remove the ice cubes just before you want to bake your buns.
Place your buns in the oven, and bake for 14–17 minutes, until golden. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
A Handful of Flour Recipes from Shipton Mill

Shipton Mill Courgette, Potato and Mint Tart

There is something rather delicious about potato and pastry, which is prevented from being stodgy here by very thinly slicing the potatoes, while the green and red of the courgettes and chilli will liven up any table with their bright colours. Ideal for a late summer or early autumn lunch, serve this with a glass of crisp white wine and a zingy salad.

Serves 4–6

1 quantity rough puff pastry
1 medium egg, beaten (to glaze) for the topping
200g (roughly 4) new potatoes cut into 1–2mm slices
4 teaspoons olive oil
100g herb cream cheese (you can buy brands such as Boursin, or make your own with a handful of finely chopped chives and a garlic clove mashed into a light cream cheese)
1 courgette, cut into 1–2mm slices
½ red chilli, finely chopped (adjust to personal taste and the strength of chilli)
2 mint sprigs, finely chopped
salt and black pepper

Preheat your oven to 180ºC/gas 4. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.

On a lightly floured work surface roll out your pastry to a square roughly 30 x 30cm.

Score a line where you want the borders to be, around 1.5cm from the edges. Transfer your pastry on to the baking tray. Prick the base of your tart using a fork, and
brush the borders with a little beaten egg. Bake the pastry for 10–15 minutes, until you can see it has started to cook through.

While your pastry is baking, prepare the filling. In a large non-stick frying pan, fry the potatoes over a medium heat in 2 teaspoons of the olive oil for 2 minutes, until they turn translucent. Remove the pastry base from the oven.

If it has puffed up too much, gently push it down in the centre with the back of a fork – the weight of the filling will also push it back down. Crumble the cream cheese over it evenly, and then arrange the potatoes and courgettes on top. These will shrink slightly as they cook, so be generous.

Sprinkle the chilli over the top, drizzle with the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Return the tart to the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes or so, keeping an eye on it. Remove from the oven once the pastry has cooked through, and leave it to cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the mint over the top, and serve warm. A Handful of Flour Recipes from Shipton Mill

Shipton Mill Rock Salt and Rosemary Focaccia

timing note: there are a few resting periods in this recipe. This is to ensure you are working with a relaxed dough that is properly developed and able to retain the shape and texture required for an authentic focaccia. This Italian flatbread is thought to have originated from the Etruscans, and was a staple part of the diet in Ancient Rome.

Emmer was commonly used to make focaccia, but I’ve created a recipe using our ciabatta flour, which gives it a fantastic structure. If you can’t get hold of ciabatta flour, a strong white bread flour will also work well. Popular to this day, focaccia is delicious with all sorts of toppings – rosemary and rock salt are the classic but you can easily adapt this recipe to vary the flavours. In the spirit of being as authentic as possible, be generous with your olive oil when drizzling it on the top, as the bread will soak this up and it will add extra flavour and moisture. Whether you’re making this by hand or by machine, put some time and effort into the kneading at the beginning to get the gluten working. After this kneading, handle the dough as gently as possible to allow the bubbles to develop.

Makes 1 focaccia, around 800g

336ml water
12g olive oil, plus extra for brushing
5g fresh yeast
444g ciabatta flour
7g salt
semolina, for dusting for the toppings
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves stripped from the stalk
rock salt
olive oil, for drizzling

Weigh your water into a large mixing bowl and mix in the olive oil and yeast. Add the flour and mix, then add the salt. The dough will be sticky and wet, as focaccia is relatively high hydration dough.

Once combined, transfer your dough to a mixer fitted with a dough hook and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, or knead by hand on a work surface very lightly oiled with olive oil.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Knock it back by drawing the sides up and then folding them into the centre, cover with a cloth, and leave to rest for 1 hour at room temperature, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Knock the dough back a second time. Don’t overwork it, however, as you want an open crumb that’s not too tight. Leave the dough to rest for another hour, and then repeat the knocking back. Be very gentle with the dough while doing this, to preserve the
bubbles that are developing. Leave it to rest for another hour.

Preheat your oven to 240ºC/gas 9. Generously brush a baking tray with olive oil. Turn the dough out on to the tray and prod it outwards into a round.

It will expand a bit when baking, so leave some room at the sides of the tray. Drizzle with oil, then add your toppings. Prod holes into the dough with your fingers.
You can make these deep, as even though this is a ‘flatbread’, it will rise a bit due to the yeast. If any bubbles form on the surface, poke them with a knife to prevent them developing crispy crusts.

Bake in the oven for 20–25 minutes. Check it after 10 minutes, and if it is colouring too quickly turn the oven down to 220ºC/gas 7 for the remaining time.

Once baked, the bottom should sound hollow when tapped. Drizzle more olive oil on top before serving (be generous!), and allow the focaccia to cool before slicing.

A Handful of Flour Recipes from Shipton Mill

Spotted Dog
Makes 1 loaf

450g (1lb/4 cups) plain white flour, preferably unbleached
1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 level teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
75g (3oz) sultanas (or more if you’d like)
1 organic egg
about 350 – 425ml (12-14fl oz/1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups) buttermilk

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

In a large mixing bowl, sieve in the flour and bicarbonate of soda; then add the salt, sugar and sultanas. Mix well by lifting the flour and fruit up in to your hands and then letting them fall back into the bowl through your fingers. This adds more air and therefore more lightness to your finished bread. Now make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Break the egg into the base of a measuring jug and add the buttermilk to the 425ml (14fl oz/1 3/4 cup) line (the egg is part of the liquid measurement). Pour most of this milk and egg mixture into the flour.
Using one hand with the fingers open and stiff, mix in a full circle drawing in the flour mixture from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, but not too wet and sticky.

The trick with Spotted Dog like all soda breads, is not to over mix the dough. Mix it as quickly and gently as possible, thus keeping it light and airy. When the dough all comes together, turn it out onto a well-floured work surface. Wash and dry your hands. With floured fingers, roll the dough lightly for a few seconds –
just enough to tidy it up. Then pat the dough into a round about 6cm (2 1/2 inches) deep. Transfer to a baking tray dusted lightly with flour. Use a sharp knife to cut a deep cross on it, letting the cuts go over the sides of the bread. Prick with knife at the four triangles. Put into the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Cook for 35-40 minutes. If you are in doubt about the bread being cooked, tap the bottom: if it is cooked it will sound hollow. This bread is cooked at a lower temperature than soda bread because the egg browns faster at a higher heat.

Serve freshly baked, cut into thick slices and smeared with butter and jam. Spotted Dog is also really good eaten with Cheddar cheese.

Bandon Farmers Market

Recently, I spent a very pleasurable few hours at the Country  market in Bandon celebrates 40 years since its establishment in December 1976.

I’m altogether a great admirer of the Country Market Movement and the stalwart members who, week in week out, bake, bottle, grow and knit to sell to their local community.

There’s always a particularly admirable ‘dig for victory’ sort of ethic but these ladies and one brave gentleman were particularly spirited, committed and justifiably proud of their Country Market and I was duly impressed by the quality of the produce. Lots of fresh vegetables, floury Kerr’s Pink, roosters, freshly picked romanesco, new seasons parsnips and a variety of healthy looking plants, home grown onions….(I bought them all) and then there were the breads and cakes, I loved the purposeful way customers came in through the door scarcely looking to right or left, making a beeline for their favourite produce.

The Country Market organisation has a protocol and quality standards that all members sign up to. Each is identified by a number so customers don’t necessary know who produces the item but regulars have their favourites and keep an eye out for new products.

I was hugely impressed by the variety not just of cakes, biscuits, quiches, tarts and meringues but also the range of jams, marmalades and autumn jellies but a range of cordials and syrups. I bought an elderberry, blackberry and brandy tonic as well as a carrageen Elixir with lots of ginger and a ginger and apple tonic for tickly coughs and chest ailments. I also pounced on Dukkah and Za’atar. You can sprinkle it on top of flat bread, on hummus and is great on fried or poached eggs, avocados or tomato salad. How about that for style and they were all completely delicious.

There was also cottage cheese preserved in oil and pinned on a trellis on the wall lots of beautiful hand knits, little jackets, cardigans, woolly hats and those old fashioned wavy tea cosies that I love.

I marvelled at the prices – incredibly good value. Another customer with a large basket had cleared the shelves of all the apple slices, she confided that she was doing the ‘After-Match’ catering in a sports club in the city and she could get nothing as delicious or as good value anywhere else in town. How right she was, I couldn’t get over reasonably priced everything was, most of the cakes and biscuits were made with butter and other fine ingredients. The pear and almond tartlets had Calvados in the frangipane. Six pieces of shortbread for €1.60, half a spelt fruit loaf studded with fat sultanas was just €2.60, six Welsh cheese cakes were €3.10, yes 0.52 cents each but think of the work, making pastry and homemade jam and madeira mixture and then glace icing for the top.

Another customer was scooping up several packets of brownies with chocolate icing on top of each one.
You must rush to the country market immediately and don’t leave the shop without hugging the cooks. They certainly deserve it for their public spirited efforts because I my opinion for what it’s worth (and it’s not my business), they can scarcely be factoring in their own time when deciding the selling price.

Maureen Wintersbottom, a stylish, sprightly 79 year old gets up at 6am every Friday to bake three dozen delicious gluten free scones, how about that for spirit? If you get there early, you might be in time to pick up a jar of the super delicious Ajvar relish made with roasted red pepper, smoked paprika and spices that we fought about in this house for several days, delicious with goats cheese, labne or on smoked chicken, pan grilled meat or fish or even a fried egg. So for those of you who think country markets are about ‘wee buns’ go and check them out, if you are fortunate enough to have one near you.

They would love new members so if you are a dab hand at sewing or growing or baking or pickling well go along and perhaps you can put your skills to good use to enhance the weekly income. Speaking of skills, how wonderful would it be to see these making, baking, rearing, growing knowledge passed on to a flourishing Youth Country Market. Watch this space……

Bandon Country Market, Weir Street, Bandon. Open Friday and Saturday, 9am-1pm

Home Butchery, Charcuterie and Sausage Making with Philip Dennhardt

This one day course will be of interest to anyone who likes pork in all its delicious forms! Philip Dennhardt comes from a long line of German butchers and he will demonstrate how to butcher a side of pork like a professional. He will then transform every scrap from nose to tail into a full range of yummy hams, succulent sausages and perfect charcuterie. Full instructions will be given for the making of air dried ham, brine cured hams, brawn, bacon and sausages, chorizos, salamis as well as some recipes for country pâtés and terrines. This is a perfect opportunity to pick up plenty of tips and hints on ways of cooking and preserving pork. The course starts at 9.30am on Saturday 19th November and finishes at 5.00pm. It includes a delicious light lunch. At the end of the day, guests will be able to taste a variety of mouth-watering pork products and all the dishes made during the day.
Booking Essential or 021 4646785

Good Food Ireland Conference
Check out the Food Tourism Culture Global Forum in Croke Park, Dublin on November 1st 2016, to discuss how food, travel and culture have become the leading hook in travel, followed by Gala Dinner and Good Food Ireland Best of the Decade awards.

Ruffles Chocolate Brownies

Makes 32 or more depending on size

375g (13ozs) chocolate (good quality 62% Valrhona or Callebaut)
375g (13ozs) butter
6 eggs
400g (14ozs) sugar
200g (7ozs) flour
150g (5ozs) chopped walnuts or hazelnuts or pecans

Tin – 35 x 24 x 6cm depth (14 x 9 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch depth)

180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a gentle heat. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until it’s a light mousse. Gradually add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg mousse. Fold in the flour to this mixture. Finally add the chopped nuts. Cook in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then turn down to 160°C/315°F/Gas Mar 2 1/2 for another 20 minutes until the centre is slightly wobbly, leave to sit in the tin to cool and set. Turn out carefully and cut into squares. Yummy!

Welsh Cheese Cakes

Makes 18

(8oz) shortcrust pastry
110 g (4oz) butter
110 g (4oz) castor sugar
175 g (6oz) flour
2 free-range organic eggs
approximately 1 tablespoon milk
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

homemade jam, apple puree, marmalade, lemon curd, chocolate spread

2 round-bottomed bun trays

Roll the pastry thinly, between 1/8 and ¼ inch. Using a 3-inch cutter, stamp into rounds and pop neatly into the patty tins.
Grease the patty tins wit ha brush dipped in a little melted butter. Put a generous ½ teacup of chosen filling into each one.
Cream the butter in a bowl. Add the castor sugar and beat until light and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat well.
Stir in the sieved flour and baking powder mixed together. Add a little milk if the mixture appears too stiff.
Divide between the tins. Bake as they are or decorate in the traditional way. Reroll the trimmings and cut into ¼ inch thick strips. Arrange a cross over the top of the cake mixture. Bake in the preheated oven at 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4 for 20 minutes approximately. Cool on a wire rack.

Note: alternatively, sprinkle a few flaked almonds over the top.

Chocolate and Hazelnut Caramel Bars

This is a wickedly sweet and chocolaty tray bake. The recipe makes lots, so freeze some of the bars for another time if you wish.

Makes 30 bars

Chocolate Base
200g (7oz/1 3/4 sticks) butter
50g (2oz) cocoa powder
300g (11oz/scant 1 1/2 cups) caster sugar
2 organic eggs, beaten
225g (8oz/2 cups) plain flour

Hazelnut Caramel Layer
125g (4 1/2oz/generous 1 stick) butter
1 x 397g (14oz/1 3/4 cups) tin of condensed milk
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) golden syrup
75g (3oz/scant 1/2 cup) caster sugar
125g (4 1/2oz) toasted and halved hazelnuts

Chocolate Topping
200g (7oz) dark chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) sunflower or vegetable oil

Swiss roll tin – 20×30 cm (8×12 inch)

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

Line or grease the base of the Swiss roll tin.

In a medium sized saucepan over a medium heat, melt the butter for the chocolate base, stir in the cocoa powder and then the sugar and mix until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the eggs until mixed and then the plain flour. Spread the chocolate base over the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes until firm on top. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool while you make the hazelnut caramel layer.

In a medium sized saucepan and over a medium heat, melt the butter and then add the condensed milk, golden syrup and sugar. Turn the heat to low and stir continuously for 12-15 minutes until the mixture is dark caramel in colour – do not let it burn. Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts. Spread evenly over the chocolate base and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a bowl sitting over a saucepan of simmering water (also known as a bain marie). When it is melted, stir in the oil and then pour over the caramel layer and smooth out, leaving to cool and set. Cut into squares. These will keep for a week in an airtight container.

Taken from Rachel’s Food for Living

Parsnip and Maple Syrup Cake

Serves 8

175g (6oz/1 1/2 sticks) butter, plus extra for greasing
110g (4oz/1/2 cup) Demerara sugar
100ml (3 1/2fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) maple syrup
3 large organic eggs
250g (9oz/2 1/4 cups) self-raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons mixed spice
250g (9oz) parsnips, peeled and grated
1 medium eating apple, peeled, cored and grated
50g (2oz) pecans or hazelnuts, roughly chopped
zest and juice of 1 small orange

icing sugar, to serve

300g (10oz) cream cheese
2 tablespoons (3 American tablespoons) maple syrup

2 x 20cm (8 inches) deep sandwich tins

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

Grease the cake tins with a little butter and line the bases with parchment paper.

Melt the butter, sugar and maple syrup in a pan over a gentle heat, then cool slightly. Whisk the eggs into the mixture, then stir into the flour, baking powder and mixed spice. Next add the grated parsnip, apple, chopped pecans, orange zest and freshly squeezed juice. Divide between the two tins and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until just starting to shrink from the sides of the tin.

Cool on a wire rack.

Just before serving, mix the cream cheese and maple syrup together. Spread over the base of one cake and top with the other.
Dust with icing sugar just before serving.


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