ArchiveOctober 2017

Slow Food International Congress in Chengdu in China

The seventh Slow Food International Congress was held recently in Chengdu in China, the capital of the province of Sichuan. The UNESCO capital of Gastronomy and now officially a Slow Food City.
China was honoured to be chosen as a venue for the Congress which focused on the impact of climatic change on countries and communities around the world. Banners were erected throughout the city of 14 million people to welcome the 500 delegates from 90+ countries. The strong message “Change your Food – Stop Climate Change”.

For whatever reason or reasons, climate change is a reality – it’s probably part cyclical but there’s no doubt that many elements of modern day living contribute to the problem not least our present industrial food system which is estimated to produce 40% plus of all the greenhouse emissions.

It was also painfully obvious that many of the countries like Bangladesh, Senegal, Kenya, Moritania, Burkino Faso, that are experiencing the greatest impact of climate change did little or nothing to contribute to the problem. It will be our present 10 year olds and younger who will have to cope with the devastation our generation has contributed to with reckless abandon.

Chengdu is famous for its Giant Panda breeding program which we visited but I’ll concentrate on food in this column.
Chengdu and the province of Sichuan have the most bio diverse cuisine of any region in China. We ate brilliantly from the time we arrived till we left a week later. A small group of Slow Food delegates who signed up for pre congress trips were fortunate to be granted access to places not normally open to westerners including the venue where the original spicy Pixian Doobanjiang or Douban sauce is made. This feisty chilli sauce is described as the soul of Sichuan food and it becomes pretty addictive, a quintessential Chinese flavour.

It’s been made since 1666 between the end of the Ming and the beginning of the Qing dynasties. During the Huguang Tian Sichuan migration at that time, one of the Chen family ancestors discovered that the fava beans they were bringing with them as the staple had gone mouldy so rather than throw them away they decided to try to dry them in the sun. The emperor tried with them with lots of chilli and discovered it was a brilliant combination so out of that was born the fermented sauce that’s now a fundamental condiment in Sichuan food. From there we went to visit the Sichuan Museum the only one of its kind in China. It was situated in a beautiful garden and apart from an intriguing collection of cooking implements dating back almost 3,000 years it had a fantastic restaurant and houses the Kitchen God Zaotang to whom we all bowed and offered incense in the traditional way.

We ate 10 or 12 dishes and one was more delicious than the last. I particularly remember a silky bean curd with chilli sauce, roasted peanuts and coriander.
The Chengdu Spice Market was another highlight. Stall after stall piled high with spices. Sichuan peppercorns, both green and red, cassia, cardamom, lots of medicinal spices, tons of chilli peppers, dried mushrooms – wood ears, shiitake, enoki….dried cuttle fish, dried shrimps, dried scallops, dried bean curd, sea cucumbers, sacks of brown, white and black rice, soya beans and a multitude of grains, nigella seeds and vats of fermented vegetables and sauces. We had lunch in the Tibetan Quarter an area, jam packed with tea rooms and little shops selling Buddha artefacts, prayer books and fine teas.

In a traditional Tibetan restaurant, we ate yak in lots of different ways and at last I got to taste yak milk with butter, definitely an acquired tasted but I loved it. Several very complex dishes including a yak blood sausage with star anise and chilli. Lots of chilli around here and Sichuan food is known to be particularly spicy. We also visited some organic farmers about three and a half hours north of Chengdu which gave us an opportunity to see the Chinese countryside.

We stopped at a motorway café for a ‘comfort break’, fascinating to see what was for sale in the supermarket. Lots of edible ‘food like substances’ and cooked chicken feet, drumsticks and pig snouts in little packets like tayto crisps to snack on…. Both in restaurants and in the food areas of shops, all the staff seem to wear masks…very off putting…Later our tour organisers told us were the first group apart from a CNN crew to get permission from the government to go to this area…eventually we go to the farm of Sun Wenxiang and his family near Qilong Village in Hongyha-Xian county.

Street food and night markets in Asian Cities always intrigue me; one gets a real taste of the country. Here in China, they are very keen on offal, chicken feet, rabbit, duck and chicken heads are everywhere, pig tails and snouts are favourites, necks and gizzards. In a motorway café, vac packed chicken feet, pig snouts and drumsticks were available alongside potato crisps. We ate in a variety of restaurants; we scarcely ate anything twice except a steamed aubergine dish they call fish fragrant aubergines, a famous Sichuan recipe that I love.
The City of Chengdu pulled out all the stops for the 500 Slow Food delegates. At every dinner there was amazing entertainment dancers in elaborate costumes, singers, magicians….Carlo Petrini of Slow Food International thanks the city of Chengdu for the warm welcome and generous hospitality but didn’t mince his words about climatic change and the importance of supporting and rewarding those who look after the land and produce nourishing food to keep people healthy. No healthy city without a healthy countryside.

Hot Tips
Connect with the Slow Food Network around the world…..become a Slow food Member, simply log on to

Pop Up Supper Club at Ballymaloe House
Beautiful Sumayya Usmani was born and raised in Karachi in Pakistan. She is recognised by BBC Good Food as the UK’s ‘go-to’ expert for Pakistani cuisine. Sumayya who is an internationally published food writer, author and cookery teacher will be hosting the Supper Club and has chosen an exciting Pakistani inspired menu for all of us to enjoy. Places limited, booking essential. Tel: 021 4652531 Wednesday 8 November – €75 pp

Gluttony Bakery, Blackrock in Dublin make a wide variety of gluten free sandwiches, scones, traybakes, brown soda bread, dairy free white loaf ……. One can also order celebration cakes with dairy free options; people rave about the dairy free chocolate fudge cake. Check out their facebook page

Chengdu Chicken Broth

My favourite Chinese breakfast.

Serves 6 approx

Makes about 3.5 litres (6 pints/15 cups)

2–3 chickens, raw or cooked chicken carcasses or a mixture of both plus giblets from the chicken (neck, heart, gizzard – save the liver for a different dish)
1 large onion, sliced
4 spring onions or 1 leek, split in two
2 outside celery stalks or 2 lovage leaves
1 large carrot, cut into chunks
a few parsley stalks
a large sprig of thyme
6 peppercorns
1 inch (CM) piece of ginger, sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper

A selection of cooked rice or flour noodles
greens, bok choi, garland chrysanthemum leaves
cuttle fish balls
beef balls (optional)

Sliced spring onions
Coarsely chopped fresh coriander
Chilli sauce from mild to super hot
Peanuts, chopped

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. Do not add salt.
Bring to the boil. Skim the fat off the top with a tablespoon. Simmer for 3–4 hours. Strain and remove any remaining fat.

Prepare a selection of additions and condiments in separate bowls. Bring the broth to the boil. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add a portion of chosen noodles, then a selection of greens which will wilt in the simmering broth. Add a couple of dumplings and fish or beef balls if using. Allow to heat through. Transfer to a deep bowl. Add topping of your choice, spring onions, coriander, chilli sauce, peanuts… with chop sticks and a Chinese spoon.

Fuchsia Dunlop’s Fish Fragrant Aubergines
Fuchsia, author of seven books and an engaging speaker was brought over by the Chinese government to speak to the Slow Food delegates about Sichuan’s food

Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as part of a Chinese meal

600 g aubergines
cooking oil for deep-frying (400ml will do if you are using a round-bottomed wok)
1½ tablespoons Sichuan’s chilli bean paste, or Sichuan pickled chilli paste, or a mixture of the two
1 tablespoon ginger, finely chopped
1 tablespoons garlic, finely chopped
150 ml stock
2 teaspoons caster sugar
¾ teaspoon potato flour, mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water
2 teaspoons Chinkiang vinegar
4 tablespoons spring onion greens, finely sliced
Cut the aubergines lengthways into three thick slices, then cut these into evenly sized batons. Sprinkle them with salt, mix well and leave in a colander for at least 30 minutes to drain.
In a wok, heat the oil for deep-frying to 180C. Add the aubergines in batches and deep-fry for 3-4 minutes until slightly golden on the outside and soft and buttery within. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
Drain off the deep-frying oil, rinse the wok if necessary, then return it to a medium flame. When the wok is hot again, add 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the chilli bean paste and stir fry until the oil is red and fragrant, then add the ginger and garlic and continue to stir fry until you can smell their aromas. Take care not to burn these seasonings; remove the wok from the heat for a few seconds if necessary to control the temperature (you want a gentle, coaxing sizzle, not a scorching heat).
Add the stock and sugar and mix well. Season with salt to taste if necessary. Add the fried aubergines to the sauce and let them simmer gently for a minute or so to absorb some of the flavours. Then stir the potato flour mixture, pour it over the aubergines and stir in gently to thicken the sauce. Add the vinegar and spring onions and stir a few times, then serve.

From Every Grain of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop

Fuchsia Dunlop’s Cold Chicken with a Spicy Sichuan’s Sauce

Serves 2-4

About 3/4 lb (300–350g) cold, cooked chicken, without bones
3 spring onions
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)

For the Sauce
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Chinkiang (brown rice) vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon chicken stock
3–4 tablespoons chilli oil with 1/2 tablespoon of its sediment (or more, if you wish)
1/4–1/2 teaspoon ground, roasted Sichuan pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Cut or tear the chicken as evenly as possible into bite-sized strips or slivers and place them in a deep bowl. Cut the spring onions at a steep angle into thin slices. Mix them and the salt with the chicken.
If using sesame seeds, toast them gently in a dry wok or frying pan for a few minutes, until they are fragrant and starting to turn golden, then tip out into a small dish.
Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
When you are ready to eat, pour the sauce over the chicken, and mix well with chopsticks or salad servers. Arrange on a serving dish and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

Taken from Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking by Fuchsia Dunlop

Fuchsia Dunlop’s Sisters’ Dumplings
These sweet or savoury dumplings, which are served in little bamboo steamers, are named in honour of two pretty sisters who sold them around the Fire Temple, Huogongidian, in the early 1920s.

Makes about 20 dumplings

For the dough
225 g (8 oz) glutinous rice flour
2 tablespoons rice flour

For the savoury dumplings
1 dried shitake mushroom
1 small piece fresh ginger, unpeeled
50 g (13/4 oz) minced pork
2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine
½ teaspoon sesame oil
Light soy sauce
Salt and pepper

For the Sweet Dumplings
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon roasted peanuts
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons plain flour
A few grains of red yeast rice (a natural food colouring or drops cochineal, optional)

To make the savoury stuffing, soak the shiitake in hot water from the kettle for at least 30 minutes. Crush the ginger with the side of a cleaver blade and put into a small cup with a little cold water to cover. Chop the drained and squeezed shiitake finely and mix with the pork. Stir in the Shaoxing wine and sesame oil and season to taste with soy, salt and pepper. Add just enough of the ginger fragrant water to make a paste.

To make the sweet stuffing, toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over a gentle heat until fragrant, taking care not to burn them. Place in a mortar with the peanuts and crush finely. Moisten the sugar with ½-1 teaspoon of cold water, then add the nuts and the flour. You should end up with a stiff paste.

Line a steamer with a piece of clean muslin.

To make the dough, combine both rice flours with enough cold water to make a stiff, putty-like paste.

Roll the dough into sausages and break off walnut sized pieces. Take a piece in your hand, roll into a sphere, then flatten gently and make an indentation in the centre. Place a little of one of the stuffings in the indentation, and draw up the edges of the dough to enclose it. Roll the sweet filled dumplings into globes and place a dot of cochineal or a few red rice grains on top, if desired. Roll the meat filled dumplings into globes and then draw up the top of the dough into a pointy tip.
Place the finished dumplings in the steamer and steam over a high heat for 8-10minutes. Serve immediately.

Taken from Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook by Fuchsia Dunlop

Comfort Eating

How quickly the evenings are closing in and now there’s a proper excuse to light a crackling fire, cuddle up in an armchair and tuck into a big bowl of comforting stew or colcannon with a nice lump of beautiful butter melting in the centre.

One doesn’t need a special reason to enjoy comfort food, we need it all the time but the term comfort food conjures up warm and fuzzy images of rich snooze inducing dishes. They certainly don’t have to be heavy or stodgy. We all have our own ideas of what constitutes comfort food. Risotto is high on my list and so is a super creamy mac and cheese or meat balls….chicken pilaff, a recipe I learned from Myrtle Allen when I came to Ballymaloe is another family favourite. It’s delicious, unctuous, creamy sauce flavours the pilaff rice to create one of the most comforting meals you can imagine. We used to make it from what we affectionately called an ‘old hen’, a bird of approximately two years which was coming to the end of its laying career with lots of flavour. We would give it an honourable end in a chicken pilaff and the French would have celebrated its life in a rich and flavoursome Coq au vin….

And then there’s broth – oh how I love broth, particularly in Winter, I often sneak into the larder in the Cookery School and fill myself a pint glass of chicken broth, I butter a slice of white yeast bread – must be white, slather it with butter and tear it into the glass – bet you are shocked but it is the best thing ever and so comforting, restorative and nutritious. One pot dishes also fit the bill and are so much less hassle to serve when you are whacked at the end of a busy day. Maybe it’s because we’re kinda sad that the summer is finally over that the craving for a big plate of comfort strikes more often.

Pasta too, particularly an unctuous one with a rich and creamy meat sauce has immense appeal. Here are a few suggestions to comfort you and all the family this week.

Macaroni with Cheddar Cheese

Serves 6

Macaroni cheese is one of our family’s favourite supper dishes, loved by everyone from the toddlers to Gran’s and Grandda’s. We love it just as it is but you can of course add whatever you fancy to the sauce….some cubes of cooked bacon, ham or chorizo, maybe some smoked fish or cauliflower florets with the cooked macaroni.

8 ozs (225g) macaroni
6 pints (3.4 litres/15 cups) water
2 teaspoons salt

2 ozs (50g/1/2 stick) butter
2 ozs (50g/1/2 cup) white flour, preferably unbleached
1 1/2 pints (850ml/3 3/4 cups) boiling milk
1/4 teaspoon Dijon or English mustard
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) freshly chopped parsley, (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper
5 ozs (150g) grated mature Cheddar cheese (We love the mature Derg Cheddar from Co Tipperary)
1 oz (25g) grated Cheddar cheese for sprinkling on top

1 x 2 pint (1.1 litre) capacity pie dish

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add the salt. Sprinkle in the macaroni and stir to make sure it doesn’t stick together. Cook until just soft, 10-15 minutes approx. drain well.

Meanwhile melt the butter, add in the flour and cook on a medium heat, stirring occasionally for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the milk gradually; bring back to the boil, stirring all the time. Add the mustard, parsley if using and cheese, season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Add the cooked macaroni, bring back to the boil, taste, correct seasoning and serve immediately.

Macaroni cheese reheats very successfully provided the pasta is not overcooked in the first place. Turn into a pie dish, sprinkle grated cheese over the top. Reheat in a preheated moderate oven – 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 15-20 minutes. It is very good served with cold meat particularly ham.

Top Tip: Macaroni soaks up an enormous amount of sauce. Add more sauce if making ahead to reheat later.

Macaroni Cheese with Smoked Salmon or Smoked Mackerel
Add 8 ozs (225 g) of smoked salmon or smoked mackerel dice to the macaroni cheese.

Macaroni Cheese with Mushrooms and Courgettes
Add 8 ozs (225 g) sliced sautéed mushrooms and 8 ozs (225 g) sliced courgettes cooked in olive oil with a little garlic and marjoram or basil and add to the Macaroni cheese. Toss gently, turn into a hot serving dish and scatter with grated cheese – delish.

Macaroni Cheese with Chorizo
Add 8oz (225g) diced chorizo and lots of chopped parsley to the macaroni cheese as you put it into the dish.

Penne with Tomatoes, Spicy Sausage and Cream

Serves 6

1lb (450g) penne
8 pints (4 litres/20 cups) water
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) salt

6-8oz (175-225g) Chorizo or Kabanossi sausage
1oz (25g/1/4 stick) butter
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 1/2lb (675g) fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled, and cut into 1/2 inch (1cm) dice or 1 1/2 tins (400g/14oz tin) tomatoes, chopped
salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar
pinch of crushed chillies
6-10fl oz (175-300ml/3/4 cup – 1 1/4 cup) cream
2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) flat parsley, finely chopped
4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano)
lots of snipped flat parsley

Bring 8 pints (4 litres/20 cups) water to the boil in a large saucepan over a high heat. Add 2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) of salt, then add the pasta. Stir well. Bring back to the boil for 4 minutes, cover, turn off the heat and allow the pasta to continue to cook in the covered saucepan until al dente – 9-12 minutes depending on the brand of pasta.

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan, add the chopped rosemary and diced tomatoes. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Cook until the tomatoes have just begun to soften into a sauce, about 5 minutes approx.

Peel the casing off the Chorizo or Kabanossi sausage if necessary and then half or quarter each round depending on size. Add to the pan with the crushed chillies, season lightly with salt (be careful not to overdo the salt as the sausage may be somewhat salty). Add the cream and chopped parsley, cook, stirring frequently until the cream comes to the boil. Simmer for 5-7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

When the pasta is cooked (it should be ‘al dente’), drain and toss with the sauce, add the grated Parmesan. Toss again, check the seasoning. Sprinkle with flat parsley and serve at once.

Note: Please omit chorizo for vegetarian option.

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 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 parsley and spring onion.

Pilaff Rice

Although a risotto can be made in 20 minutes it entails 20 minutes pretty constant stirring which makes it feel rather laboursome. A pilaff on the other hand looks after itself once the initial cooking is underway. The pilaff is versatile – serve it as a staple or add whatever tasty bits you have to hand. Beware however of using pilaff as a dustbin, all additions should be carefully seasoned and balanced.

Serves 8

25g (1oz/1/4 stick) butter
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) finely chopped onion or shallot
400g (14oz) long-grain rice (preferably Basmati)
975ml (32fl oz/4 cups) homemade chicken stock
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) freshly chopped herbs eg. parsley, thyme, chives: optional

Melt the butter in a casserole, add the finely chopped onion and sweat for 2-3 minutes. Add the rice and toss for a minute or two, just long enough for the grains to change colour. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, add the chicken stock, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a minimum and then simmer on top of the stove or in the oven 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3 for 10 minutes approx. By then the rice should be just cooked and all the water absorbed. Just before serving stir in the fresh herbs if using.

Basmati rice cooks quite quickly; other types of rice may take up to 15 minutes.

Pilaff with Mussels and Prawns
1 x mushroom a la créme
450g (1lb) mussels
110g (4oz) cooked shrimps or prawns
1-2 tablespoons (1-2 American tablespoons + 1-2 teaspoons) freshly chopped herbs – e.g parsley, chives, thyme, fennel

Wash the mussels in several changes of cold water. Put the mussels into a wide frying or sauté pan on a medium heat. Cover with a lid or a folded tea towel. Just as soon as the mussels open, whip them out, remove the beards and discard the shells.

Heat the mushroom a la créme, stir in the mussels, shrimps. When the pilaff is cooked turn into a hot serving dish, spoon the mushroom and shellfish mixture on top, sprinkle with chopped herbs and serve immediately.

Other good things to add to pilaff
Fresh spices, cubes of cooked ham or bacon freshly cooked, chicken and sautéed mushrooms, Tomato Fondue and Parmesan and Basil leaves, Red and yellow pepper. Stew with Marjoram.

Dutch Apple Cake with Cinnamon Sugar

Serves 6

2 large eggs preferably free range and organic
225g (8ozs/1 cup) castor sugar
110g (4ozs/1 stick) butter
150ml (5fl oz/generous 1/2 cup) creamy milk
185g (6 1/2 ozs/generous 1 1/2 cups) plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
3-4 Bramley cooking apples
25g (1oz/1/8 cup) sugar

Cinnamon Sugar
25g (1oz/1/8 cup) castor sugar
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6.

Grease and flour a 20 x 30cm (8 x 12 inch) roasting tin or lasagne dish.

Whisk the eggs and the castor sugar in a bowl until the mixture is really thick and fluffy. Bring the butter and milk to the boil in saucepan, and stir, still boiling, into the eggs and sugar. Sieve in the flour and baking powder and fold carefully into the batter so that there are no lumps of flour. Pour the mixture into the prepared roasting tin. Peel and core the apples and cut into thin slices, arrange them overlapping on top of the batter. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4, for a further 20-25 minutes or until well risen and golden brown. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Cut into slices. Serve with softly whipped cream.

Hot Tips
Remember Savour Kilkenny runs from 27th -30th October 2017.
Lots of exciting events, workshops and talks…..Join David Gillick, European Champion and Olympic sprinter at Savour Kilkenny for his One Pot Fits All cookery demonstration. David will show us how to make delicious and nutritious one pot dishes for busy parents and workers…..Saturday 28th October
Gill Meller will cook two seasonal recipes from his cookbook Gather on Saturday October 28th at Savour Kilkenny and of course our own Rory O’ Connell will cook some of his favourite dishes from his new book Cook Well, Eat Well the same afternoon.

Fit Foodie Workshop with Derval O’ Rourke at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. In one afternoon you will learn how to make great tasting, easy and healthy recipes that the whole family can enjoy plus a Movement Hour that is suitable for all level of fitness. Saturday, November 4th 2017

Cook Well Eat Well

I love Rory O’ Connell’s new book, sounds a bit soppy but I‘m a big fan of my brother’s food, simple beautiful and delicious – Rory and I started the Ballymaloe Cookery School together in 1983 and his first book Master It published in 2013 was long overdue. Since then he has gained a loyal and growing fan base, both for his TV programmes and his much anticipated book number two Cook Well Eat Well.

I also love that now, that people religiously ask if I am Rory’s sister instead of the other way around – long, long, overdue recognition.
Rory is a natural teacher and everyone loves the way he takes the mystery out of cooking and gently nudges us all to be a little adventurous. This book answers a frequently asked question about how to put a nicely balanced meal together
“and what do I serve with what”?

Almost all the meals in Cook Well Eat Well are three courses. Rory sometimes suggests vegetables or a salad to serve with the meal, some of the recipes can be used over multiple seasons with a simple tweak of an ingredient to suit the time of the year you are cooking in.
Rory’s starting point is always the freshest local food in season; he reminds us that it’ll be at its best and least expensive then and much easier to transform into something yummy, delicious and properly nourishing. Rory has the added talent of being able to effortlessly make each and every plate look beautiful. Cook Well Eat Well is published by Gill Books; here are a few recipes to whet your appetite.

Hot Tips
Check out The Fumbally Stables calender of Autumn events. Their Eat:Ith workshops, talks and events with food producers, baristas, sommeliers, food writers….

Cook and Surf…..Love it that there are so many passionate passionate young chefs writing cookbooks not just for their ‘tribe’ but chock full of good things that are easy to cook or toss together. Properly deliciously and nourishing. Finn Ní Fhaoláin is one name to watch. I met her recently at the Theatre of Food, Electric Picnic and have just got her book Finn’s World. She’s lives, surfs and cooks in Bundoran. She is a coeliac herself so many of the recipes have the bonus of being coeliac friendly.

Take Five Essential Sauces
Knowing how to make a few classic sauces adds magic to many dishes. ‘Mother sauces’ in culinary jargon, are a vital tool in the kitchen and when you’ve mastered the basic techniques, you can do lots of creative variations on the theme…
Take Béchamel, Mushroom a la Crème, Hollandaise, Bernaise and Mayonnaise – none of these sauces are difficult or complicated to make. In just an afternoon we’ll share the techniques and show you how to serve and make delicious dishes with each one and share many suggestions for other delicious ways to serve them. Friday October 20th 2017,

Slow Food Mushroom Hunt
Join Bill O’Dea’s Mushroom Hunt at the Park Hotel in Kenmare on October 21st. Bill will start at 1.30pm with a presentation on mushroom hunting followed by a forage and tasting of mushrooms including a wild mushroom soup. or email for the details.

Rory O’ Connell’s Parsnip Soup with Harissa
Winter root vegetables like the parsnip are terrific value for money and packed full of flavour. They seem to yield the deep, comforting taste we long for at this time of year. I always buy my root vegetables unwashed – in other words, with some of
the soil they grew in still attached. They have a great deal more flavour than ones that have had their protective coat of earth scrubbed off and also keep much better and for longer than the cleaned ones. It is of course a little more work for you at home, but the difference in flavour and texture is enormous – quite simply, there is no comparison.

Serves 6–8

25g butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
500g parsnips, peeled and diced
100g potato, peeled and diced
100g white onion, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced
sea salt and freshly ground
black pepper
750ml homemade chicken stock
splash of cream (optional)
2 tablespoons harissa, see recipe
best-quality extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Melt the butter and olive oil in a medium saucepan set over a medium heat until the butter foams. Add the prepared parsnips, potato, onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Toss the vegetables and seasoning in the fat until well coated, then cover with a piece of parchment or greaseproof paper. Pop the lid on the saucepan and cook on a very gentle heat to sweat the vegetables. If the heat is too high the vegetables may stick to the bottom of the saucepan and burn. Cook for 15–20 minutes, until some of the vegetables are beginning to soften at the edges and collapse.
Add the stock and bring to a simmer again but don’t boil, as some of the stock may evaporate and the soup will be too thick. Cover with the lid and continue to cook on that gentle heat until the vegetables are completely tender. This will take about 15 minutes.

Purée the soup to a silky-smooth consistency. Taste and correct the seasoning. At this point I sometimes add a little more stock or a splash of cream to correct the consistency and the flavour.

Serve in hot bowls with a teaspoon of harissa and a drizzle of your best extra virgin olive oil on each serving.

Taken from Rory O’ Connell’s Cook Well Eat Well published by Gill Books

Rory O’ Connell’s Harissa

I keep a jar of this hot and spicy North African inspired paste in the fridge most of the time. It is a really useful condiment for seasoning and marinating and for adding a little heat to certain dishes. I use with grilled lamb, pork and chicken, with oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, on hard boiled eggs and in an omelette and stirred through a mayonnaise as a sauce or through olive oil to make a slightly hot vinaigrette for crisp, cool salad leaves.

I use medium hot chillies such as cayenne, jalapeno or Serrano to give a level of heat that is obvious for not scorching.

Makes 1 small jar

6 medium hot red chillies, such as cayenne, jalapeno or Serrano
8 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed to a paste
1½ tablespoons tomato puree
3 teaspoons cumin seeds, roasted and ground
3 teaspoons coriander seeds, roasted and ground
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar or lemon juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Place the chilies on a small roasting tray and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. The skins will be blackening and blistering and coming away from the flesh. Place the roasted chillies in a bowl, seal tightly with cling film and allow to cool. When cool, peel off the skins and slit the chillies to remove the seeds. You just want the roasted flesh of the chilli for the harissa.
Place the chillies in a food processor or use a pestle and mortar. Add the garlic, tomato puree and ground spices and process to a smooth-ish purée. Gradually add the oil and vinegar. Add the chopped coriander leaves and season to taste, adding a tiny pinch of sugar if you feel the flavour needs a lift. The taste should be strong, hot and pungent.
Stored in a covered container such as a jam jar in the fridge, the harissa will keep perfectly for several months.

Taken from Rory O’ Connell’s Cook Well Eat Well published by Gill Books

Rory O’ Connell’s Beetroot and Autumn Raspberries with Honey, Mint and Labneh

Beetroot and raspberries taste very good together and the labneh adds the savoury note. Labneh, a simple dripped yogurt cheese, is very easy to make, though you do need to start the process the previous day or at least early in the morning if you
are serving it for dinner. There are many uses for labneh, and once you make it for the first time you will probably wonder why you never made it before. Search out full-fat thick organic yogurt for a rich and creamy result.

Serves 4

2 medium beetroots, about 250g in total with tail and 3cm of stalk attached
Sea salt and freshly ground
Black pepper
Pinch of caster sugar
24 fresh raspberries
20 small fresh mint leaves

500g full-fat natural yogurt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey

To make the labneh, take a double thickness square of clean muslin or a fine linen glass cloth and place it over a sieve sitting over a bowl. Add the yogurt and olive oil and tie the four corners of the muslin to make a knot. Secure the knot with some string. You now need to hang the tied muslin bag by the string over the bowl to allow the whey in the yogurt to drip off for at least 8 hours, leaving you with a soft cheese. I hang the bag from a cup hook attached to a shelf and that works perfectly. If that
all sounds too complicated, just sit the muslin bag in a sieve over a deep bowl and that also will do the job quite successfully. When the whey has all dripped out, simply remove the muslin and chill the cheese, covered, until you are ready to serve it. It
will keep in the fridge for three or four days.

Rinse the beetroots under a cold running tap, being careful not to break off the little tail. Place in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add a pinch of salt and sugar to the water. Bring to a simmer, cover and continue to simmer until the skin rubs off the beetroots easily when pushed. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes for fresh new
season beetroots to 2 hours for older beets, so it is impossible to give an absolute time. The cooked beets should be very tender all the way through.

Peel off the skin and any remaining stalk and cut off the tail. The beets can be prepared up to this point hours ahead or even the previous day.

To make the dressing, whisk the olive oil, lemon
juice, honey and some salt and pepper together. Taste and correct the seasoning.

To assemble the salad, slice the beetroots very thinly (I use a mandolin for this) and divide between four serving plates (the salad can also be assembled family style on a large flat platter and brought to the table). Cut some of the raspberries in half lengthways and some in cross-section slices and scatter over the beetroots. Whisk the dressing well and spoon some of it on. Place a dessertspoon of labneh in the centre of each plate. Scatter on the mint leaves and a final drizzle of dressing and serve.

Taken from Rory O’ Connell’s Cook Well Eat Well published by Gill Books

Rory O’ Connell’s Grilled Duck Breast with a Salad of Oranges, Watercress and Radicchio

Duck and oranges are a classic combination of flavours, but here the emphasis is on a lighter result rather than the rich sauce one normally expects. Peppery watercress and bitter red-leaved radicchio are a lively foil for the richness of the meat. A selection of salad leaves could replace the ones I have suggested, but including some bitter leaves makes all the difference to the balance of the finished dish. The vinaigrette used to dress the salad leaves also becomes the sauce, so the overall effect is somewhat refreshing. I like to serve a crisp potato dish to accompany, such as a pommes allumettes or rustic roast potatoes. I think two large duck breasts, when being served with accompanying vegetables and potatoes, are sufficient for four people, but you will know what is needed at your table.

Serves 2–4

2 oranges
Pinch of caster sugar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large duck breasts
2 handfuls of watercress, washed and dried
2 handfuls of radicchio leaves, washed and dried

To Serve:
Pommes allumettes or rustic roast potatoes with balsamic butter

Preheat the oven to 100°C.

Zest one of the oranges with a Microplane or on a fine grater. Carefully segment both oranges and sprinkle with a pinch of sugar. Mix the orange zest with the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to make the vinaigrette. Taste and correct the
seasoning. Add the oranges to the vinaigrette and give them a gentle stir.

Place a cold grill pan on a medium heat and immediately put the duck breasts on the cold pan, skin side down. This seems like such an odd thing to do and contradicts most of the normal rules of grilling meat, but it works quite brilliantly,
as while the skin is slowly crisping, the liquid fat renders out of the duck. Save all that duck fat for roasting potatoes and vegetables – it will keep covered in the fridge for months. Cook the duck on that medium heat until the skin has become crispy
and a rich deep golden colour. This takes about 10 minutes. Turn over and finish cooking the duck on the other side for about 7 minutes more. By now the centres of the breasts should be pink, which is the way I like to serve them. I don’t like duck served rare as I find it to be tough. Rest the cooked duck breasts in the low oven for at least 5 minutes but up to 30 minutes – the juices will be more evenly distributed through the flesh after resting. I put a small plate upside down sitting on top of a
bigger plate and sit the breasts against the sloping edges of the upside-down plate. This way, any juices that run out of the duck breasts will be saved, and
equally importantly, the meat will not be stewing in its own juices.

When ready to serve, assemble the ingredients on a large hot serving dish or individual plates. Toss the leaves in just enough of the well-mixed vinaigrette
to make them glisten, then divide between the hot plates. Carve the duck breasts into neat slices and scatter through the leaves. Arrange the orange segments through the salad leaves and duck slices and drizzle on the remaining vinaigrette. I like to quickly reheat any of the cooking juices from the resting duck and add those as a final lick of flavour. Serve immediately with the pommes allumettes or rustic roast potatoes on the side.

Taken from Rory O’ Connell’s Cook Well Eat Well published by Gill Books

St Tola Goats’ Cheese with PX Raisins

Good shopping is crucial if you are to put delicious food on the table, and this dish perfectly illustrates how thoughtful shopping for just a few ingredients can yield the most delicious and sophisticated results with virtually no cooking involved.
We are so lucky in Ireland that over the last 20 years, a whole raft of committed food producers have been creating products that help us to achieve our daily goal of great-tasting and health-giving food. St Tola goats’ cheese made in County Clare is a shining and outstanding example of the quality of the world-class foods that we can now buy, take home, simply unwrap and eat.
In this very simple recipe, which I serve in this instance to finish this meal, the addition of the sweet sherry-soaked raisins gets over the problem of no dessert being served and they are terrific with the pleasantly salty cheese. I like to use the ash-covered log from St Tola for this dish. In another meal this dish would be perfect served as a starter. The sherry I use here, Pedro Ximénez San Emilio sherry
from Jerez in Spain, is super-sweet with a real depth of flavour and is a great aid to any cook. It also pairs brilliantly with blue cheese, chocolate desserts or chicken livers, either pan fried or in a pâté, and is a great drizzle for a vanilla, coffee or
caramel ice cream. Serve a crisp cracker or hot and crispy white bread with
this dish.

Serves 4

30g raisins
2 tablespoons Pedro Ximénez
(PX) sherry
4 slices of St Tola goats’ cheese ash log (approx. 100g)
16–20 small rocket leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice
sea salt and freshly cracked
black pepper
Place the raisins in a small saucepan and pour over the sherry. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer to a small container and leave to soak for 6 hours or overnight. The raisins will soak up some of the sherry and the remaining sherry will become syrupy.

Place a slice of cheese on each serving plate. Scatter the rocket leaves around the cheese, making sure that the beautiful black line of ash on the outside of the cheese is visible in its entirety. Drizzle the olive oil over the leaves and a little over the cheese, then squeeze a little lemon juice to follow the olive oil.

Carefully divide the sherry-soaked raisins and syrupy juices between the plates and finish each serving with a small twist of black pepper and a few grains of sea salt.

Taken from Rory O’ Connell’s Cook Well Eat Well published by Gill Books

Rory O’ Connell’s Winter Chocolate Apple Pudding
This is a variation of the classic apple betty, which is a simple pudding that I love. This combination of bitter cooking apple, chocolate and the flavours of Christmas mincemeat is also charming. This is an ideal vehicle for using up last year’s
mincemeat. The pudding needs to be served warm on hot plates with cold softly whipped cream on the side.

Serves 4

1kg Bramley apples, peeled, cored and cut into large chunks
30g butter
2 tablespoons water

For the crumb layer
150g mincemeat
125g soft white breadcrumbs
75g light soft brown sugar
50g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), roughly chopped
75g butter
3 tablespoons golden syrup

To serve
chilled softly whipped cream
Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Put the apples in a pan and toss with the butter and water over a gentle heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the apples start to soften and are collapsing just a little at the edges but still generally keeping their shape. Tip them into a 1.5-litre baking dish.

Mix together the mincemeat, breadcrumbs, sugar and chocolate and cover the apples loosely with this topping. Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a small saucepan and pour it over the crumbs, making certain to soak them all.

Bake in the oven for 35 minutes, until the apple is soft and the crumbs are golden and crisp. Allow to cool slightly, then serve in heated bowls with chilled softly whipped cream.

Taken from Rory O’ Connell’s Cook Well Eat Well published by Gill Books

College – Free at Last……

College Food:- Free at Last…..this week, many young people pack their bags with a mixture of excitement and apprehension as they leave home for the very first time to embark on their chosen path. For many, it’s a shock to the system, a moment of realisation when the penny drops that you are absolutely on your own – to get up on time, feed yourself, do your washing and the gizillion other little things we’ve become accustomed to others doing for us. It’s a wonderful adventure but definitely takes a bit of getting used to and adjustment.
I’ve had lots of requests for a kit of recipes for college kids cheap, cheerful, nourishing foods that are quick to put together.

So this week, I’m going to keep blurb to the minimum so that I can fit in as many recipes as possible. Let’s start with breakfast, make a fine pot of porridge, Macroom oatmeal is the best but Kilbeggan and Flahavans rolled oats are also delectable and can be if covered and refrigerated, reheated next day, if you have some left over. You can add all sorts of toppings – jam, berries, treacle, maple syrup, honeycomb…but my absolute favourite is soft dark brown sugar and cream or at least whole milk – certainly no low fat – you’ll need nourishment to help you concentrate and achieve. Nothing fancy but totally delicious and you won’t feel like reaching for a doughnut at 11am.

Bircher Muesli is another brilliant oat based cereal made in minutes and super delicious.
Fresh eggs also give so much bang for your buck. A couple of scrambled eggs with a few added bits and pieces from the fridge can make a nutritious and tasty brekkie, brunch, lunch or supper. An omelette is a 30 second job, a frittata takes a bit longer but it’a brilliant and versatile recipe to feed a crowd of pals. Once again there are numerous variations but for college kids, I suggest adding diced cooked potato and maybe some leek or pumpkin and a few cubes of chorizo which will add more nourishment and lots of flavour.

A cabbage is also another great buy, go along to Caroline Robinson on the Coal Quay Market on Saturday and buy a fine chemical-free Savoy cabbage. It’ll keep you going for days and is so versatile. Here’s one of the many cabbage salad recipe we enjoy.
I also love dahls, this is a super simple one that we love and can also be made in bigger quantities. It’s really worth investing in a few jars of spices and some chilli flakes, they’ll add zing to even the simplest pasta dish. How about Asian lettuce leaves cups with pork or chicken, easy nibbles that are quick to make and give you a host of proteins.
Many bedsits or student accommodation don’t have an oven so how about pancakes or crepes – WOW, will you have lots of friends or what…. – there is so much, I almost feel another book coming on!

Hot Tips

Irish Orchard Treacle
Another winner from Highbank Orchard’s. Seek out their latest product – a sweet and delicious organic treacle for meat glazes, marinades and baking… or Tel: 056 7729918

Date for the Diary
Savour Kilkenny from 27th – 30th October 2017, a weekend of jam packed activities, Savour Specials, Sip and Savour, Savour Kids, Savour Market…….find Pamela Black, Ballymaloe Cookery School teacher and our Cake Queen. Watch Pam at Savour, Saturday 28th at 5pm as she creates truly dramatic cake feasts for the eye…..

One Pot Wonders
There is something liberating about cooking in a single pot. It requires much less effort, the meal is complete (or close to complete) and the whole process is simple and uncomplicated. Many one pot wonders are relatively inexpensive to produce and there is the added advantage of having next to no washing up to do afterwards. In a nutshell you’ll learn how to make a dozen or more delicious dishes using only a single pot. Saturday October 14th , 2017 at the Ballymaloe Cookery School,

Macroom Oatmeal Porridge with Dark Brown Sugar and Cream

Serves 4

Virtually every morning in Winter I start my day with a bowl of porridge. Search out Macroom stoneground oatmeal which has the most delicious toasted nutty flavour. It comes in a lovely old-fashioned red and yellow pack which I hope will never change.

155g (5 1/2ozs/scant 1 cup) Macroom oatmeal
1.2 litres (2 pints/5 cups) water
1 level teaspoon salt

Obligatory accompaniment……
Soft brown sugar

Bring 5 cups of water to the boil, sprinkle in the oatmeal gradually, whisking all the time. Put on a low heat and stir until the water comes to the boil.

Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the salt and stir again. Serve with single cream or milk and soft brown sugar melting over the top.
Left over porridge can be stored in a covered container in the fridge – it will reheat perfectly the next day.

If the porridge is waiting, keep covered otherwise it will form a skin which is difficult to dissolve.

Bircher Apple Muesli

This is right up there with porridge as the best and most nourishing breakfast ever. It’s also super-delicious, can be made in minutes, even when you are semi-comatose in the morning. It has a low glycaemic index so you’ll be bouncing with energy and vitality right up to lunchtime, no need to grab a doughnut for elevenses.

This is also a great school lunch box suggestion

Serves 4

110g grated dessert apple (preferably Worcester Permain or Cox’s Orange Pippin) or fresh strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, tayberries – all are super delicious in this recipe.
3 heaped tablespoons organic rolled oatmeal (Quaker Oats)
6 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon or more of honey, depending on the tartness of the fruit
1 tablespoon of chopped almonds (peeled, optional)

Measure out the water into a bowl and sprinkle three tablespoons of oatmeal on top. Let the oatmeal soak up the water while you grate the apple. A stainless steel grater is best for this job, use the largest side and grate the apple coarsely, skin and all. I grate through the core, but watch your fingers when you are coming close to the end, pick out the pips and discard. Stir a tea spoonful of honey into the oatmeal and then stir in the grated apple, and almonds if using. Taste, if it needs a little more honey add it, this will depend on how much you heaped up the spoon earlier on and how sweet the fruit is.
Serve with cream and soft brown sugar.

Blackberry and Apple Muesli
A few blackberries are delicious added to the apple muesli in Autumn.

Scrambled Eggs with Many Good Things
Perfectly scrambled eggs are rare indeed, though people’s perception of ‘perfect’ varies wildly. However, for ideal scrambled eggs (in my case, soft and creamy), really fresh organic eggs are essential. Nowadays, it’s become common practice to put the eggs into a hot pan, which gives a tough curd if you’re not careful. I prefer the old-fashioned way that my mother taught me: putting the eggs into a cold saucepan, whereby they scramble gently and slowly, and yield a softer, creamier curd. Scrambled eggs should always be served on warm plates but beware – if the plates are too hot, the scrambled egg can overcook between the stove and the table.

Serves 2

4 fresh organic eggs
2 tablespoons full-cream milk
a knob of butter
salt and freshly ground pepper

Break the eggs into a bowl, add the milk and season with salt and pepper. Whisk until the whites and yolks are mixed well. Over a low heat, put a blob of butter into a
cold saucepan, pour in the egg mixture and stir continuously, preferably with a flat-bottomed wooden spoon, until the eggs have scrambled into soft creamy curds.
Serve immediately on warm plates with lots of hot buttered toast or fresh soda bread.
Really great scrambled eggs need no further embellishment, except perhaps a slice of hot thin toast. Having said that, here are some great accompaniments:

Good things to serve with scrambled eggs:
• Chopped watercress or rocket leaves with a little grated cheese.
• Diced, cooked chorizo – add just at the end with some flat parsley.
• Crispy smoked bacon or a little cooked ham.
• For a Mexican flavour, add a little diced onion and chilli; then add diced tomato and lots of coriander at the end of cooking.
• A few cooked wild mushrooms, perfumed with a little tarragon or thyme leaves
• Smoked fish such as smoked salmon, mackerel
• Cooked shrimps.

A Basic Frittata and Tons of Variations

Serves 6-8

A frittata is an Italian omelette. Unlike its soft and creamy French cousin, a frittata is cooked slowly over a very low heat during which time you can be whipping up a delicious salad to accompany it! It is cooked on both sides and cut into wedges like a piece of cake. This basic recipe, flavoured with grated cheese and a generous sprinkling of herbs. Like the omelette, though, you may add almost anything that takes your fancy.

10 large eggs, preferably free range organic
1 teaspoon salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
75g (3oz) Gruyére cheese, grated
25g (1oz) Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
25g (1oz) butter
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) basil or marjoram chopped

To Serve
Rocket leaves
Tomato and Coriander Salsa , see recipe

Non-stick pan – 22.5cm (10 inch) frying pan

Whisk the eggs in a bowl, add the salt, freshly ground pepper, fresh herbs, grated cheese into the eggs. Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan. When the butter starts to foam, tip in the eggs.

There are two cooking methods.
Turn down the heat, as low as it will go. Leave the eggs to cook gently for 12 minutes on a heat diffuser mat, or until the underneath is set. The top should still be slightly runny. Preheat a grill. Pop the pan under the grill for 1 minute to set but not brown the surface.

OR Alternatively after an initial 3 or 4 minutes on the stove one can transfer the pan to a preheated oven 170ºC/325ºF/Gas Mark 3 until just set 15-20 minutes. We prefer the latter method.

Slide a palette knife under the frittata to free it from the pan. Slide onto a warm plate.
Serve cut in wedges, arrange some rocket leaves on top of the frittata and top with a blob of tomato and coriander salsa or alternatively you can serve with a good green salad and perhaps a tomato salad.

Mushroom Frittata

450g (1lb) flat mushrooms – washed and sliced

Heat some olive oil in a hot pan, add the sliced mushrooms. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and cook over a high heat until just wilted, cool.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl, add the salt, freshly ground pepper, chopped herbs, mushrooms and grated cheese into the egg mixture.

Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan and continue to cook as in the master recipe.

Frittata Ranchero

Add to the basic egg mixture just before cooking.

25g (1oz) chopped sweated onion
1 small tomato cut into 5mm (1/4 inch) dice
1 teaspoon chopped chilli or more to taste
1 dessertspoon (2 American teaspoons) chopped coriander (instead of parsley or chives)

Smoked Salmon and Goats Cheese Frittata
Add to the basic egg mixture just before cooking.

3 slices of smoked salmon diced
Substitute 1/2 the Gruyere with a mild goats cheese, and crumble into the mixture.

Frittata with Pea Shoots and Mint

Add to the basic egg mixture just before cooking.

1 – 2 cups of chopped pea shoots
2 – 3 tablespoons (2-3 American tablespoons + 2-3 teaspoons) of chopped fresh mint

Garnish with fresh pea shoots

Cabbage Salad with Raisins and Mint

Serves 8 approx.

If you are tiring of the ubiquitous coleslaw, then you might like to try this fresh tasting cabbage salad.

1/2 white cabbage with a good heart
2-3 large dessert apples, grated – we like Cox’s orange pippin
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) raisins
4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) freshly chopped mint
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) freshly chopped chives
4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) pure Irish honey
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) white wine vinegar

Cut the cabbage into quarters. Wash it well and discard the coarse outer leaves. Cut away the stalks and shred the heart very finely with a very sharp knife. Put it into a bowl with the grated apple, raisins, freshly chopped mint and chives. Mix the honey and vinegar together. Toss the salad in the dressing until well coated. Taste and correct seasoning and serve soon.

Martha’s Orange Lentil Dahl

This super quick dahl is enhanced by the tempering of curry leaves and spices drizzled over the top.

Serves 6

225g orange lentils
400ml can of coconut milk plus 300ml water
1 teaspoon turmeric
scant 1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon garam masala

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
6-8 fresh curry leaves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon coriander powder

6 slices onion, sautéed until golden
fresh coriander or mint leaves

Cook the lentils with the coconut milk and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the turmeric, bring to the boil and simmer for about 8-10 minutes by which time the lentils will be soft, almost mushy. When cooked turn off the heat, add salt, freshly squeezed lemon juice and garam masala.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan, add the curry leaves followed by the cumin seeds, fry for 2 minutes and turn off the heat. Add the cayenne and coriander, stir and pour over the cooked lentils. Mix well and garnish with crispy onion and coriander of mint leaves. Serve with Basmati rice or any chutney you fancy, don’t forget Ballymaloe Relish.

Asian Pork or Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Cheap, cheerful, nourishing, quick and cool…..minced chicken is also delicious here.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) sunflower oil
250g (9oz) pork mince (belly is good)
2 large garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded, finely chopped
1 dessertspoon (2 American teaspoons) fish sauce (nam pla)
1 dessertspoon (2 American teaspoons) soy sauce
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) palm or soft brown sugar
5 spring onions, finely sliced at an angle
12 fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
a small handful of coriander, roughly torn

To Serve
12 leaves of iceberg or Baby Gem lettuces, separated into leaves
Thai sweet chilli sauce
freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime

Heat the sunflower oil in a wide frying pan over a high heat, add the mince and fry for 2–3 minutes or until the pork is tender, breaking the mince up with a spoon to ensure even cooking.

Push the mince to the side of the pan. Add the garlic and chilli and fry for a further minute. Add the fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar, stir and fry for another minute until just cooked.

Finally add half the spring onions, coriander, mint and the lime juice and fry for 1–2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.

Scoop 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of the aromatic pork into each lettuce leaf. Top with a drizzle of Thai sweet chilli sauce. Add a sprinkling with the remaining spring onions, coriander and mint.


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