ArchiveMay 2018

Time to sow and grow

Time to sow and time to grow. At last the soil has warmed up to12°C so there’s been a frenzy of seed sowing for the past few weeks. Those of us who love to grow some of our own food have been desperate to get going but are only too aware that seeds sown before the ground warms up, simply rot. We’re three to four weeks behind last year but I have tremendous faith in Mother Nature so I’m convinced that we’ll catch up despite all the craziness.

Those of us who have a little back garden or some land are blessed indeed but you don’t need to be a land owner to grow some of your own produce. You’d be amazed how much can be grown on a window sill or balcony –  all one needs is a container filled with soil or compost, a few seeds, sun light, water and a bit of patience to wait for the magic to happen. Once the weather warms up, seeds germinate within a couple of days; micro greens will be ready to eat in seven or eight days. Then you can snip them onto your salad and sandwiches and garnish your plates like a fancy chef. Let them grow for longer and you’ll have an instant salad of organic ‘cut and come’ leaves. It’s perfectly possible to grow year round salad leaves on your window sill, super nutritious and all the more delicious because you grew them yourself. Spring onions are also a doddle to grow, you could sow the seed in an 8cm (3inch) deep module tray but we use recycled bean cans or tomato tins to grow all sorts of things on the window ledges in The Ballymaloe Cookery School. At present we have tomato plants, lettuces, chickpea plants, basil and rose geraniums.

There’s a fine rhubarb crown in an old rusty bucket by the kitchen door and several kale plants that have gone on giving all winter and are now starting to run to seed, so we use the yellow flowers in our green salads. This is the brilliant thing about growing your own, you can use every scrap of most plants, from the root to the shoot (except perhaps rhubarb leaves which are too high in oxalic acid to tuck into).

Peas are also brilliant to sow indoors even in your office, if you don’t have an outside spot. The kids will love them too. The young green pea shoots are delicious to munch in salads, the flowers too are edible but don’t eat them all because they turn into the little pods which you can munch on whole or allow to swell into sweet peas. One packet of seeds costs much less than a bag of frozen peas or even one herb plant. Fresh herbs too grow brilliantly in recycled cans or in a window box and you’ll be proud as punch as you snip off a few thyme sprigs or chives to add to your cooking.

I could go on and on, you too will get addicted once you start – apart from saving money there’s the feel good factor one gets from the thrill of growing your own and the peace of mind that comes from knowing what’s not in the food you are about to eat and feed your family. Mums with picky eaters should know that kids who help sow seeds will eat all kinds of vegetables and plants they wouldn’t touch before, plus surprise, surprise freshly picked vegetables taste altogether different from the fresh vegetables on the shop shelf – and believe me, kids with their young palates really notice the difference.


We are now coming into the fast growing season, so radishes would also be a terrific way to start. They go from ‘seed to eat’ in less than three weeks. If you sow the seed this week, then you can harvest as they swell and enjoy both the crispy root and the fresh green leaves. If you don’t know where to start,  check out  or watch Grow Cook Eat on RTE1 on Wednesdays at 7.30pm and catch up on the RTE Player for past episodes.


My latest book ‘Grow, Cook, Nourish’ also gives detailed instructions on how to get started, recipes for your precious harvest and how to use up a delicious glut…..






Kitchen Window Sill Green Salad with Honey and Mustard Dressing


Honey and Mustard Dressing

150ml (6fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

50ml (2fl oz) wine vinegar

salt and freshly ground pepper

2 teaspoons honey

2 heaped teaspoons wholegrain honey mustard

2 cloves garlic


Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together and whisk well before use.


A mixture of salad leaves from trays or pots on your window sill – Butterhead, Lollo Rosso, Oakleaf, Mizuna, Mibuna, Mustard Leaves, Cress, tiny Spring onions,  Rocket…….


Snip the leaves if necessary.  Wash and dry the lettuces and other leaves.  Put into a deep salad bowl. If not to be served immediately, cover and refrigerate.  Just before serving toss with a little of the dressing – just enough to make the leaves glisten. Serve immediately.


Note: Green Salad must not be dressed until just before serving, otherwise it will be tired and unappetising.



Summer Green Salad with Edible Flowers

Prepare a selection of salad leaves (see above) and add some edible flowers, e.g. Marigold petals, Nasturtium flowers, Borage flowers, Chive flowers, Rocket blossoms etc. one or all of these or some other herb flowers could be added. Toss with a well flavoured dressing just before serving.


This salad could be served as a basis for a starter salad or as an accompanying salad to be main course. Remember to use a little restraint with the flowers!



Fish Taco with Salsa Verde and Radishes


These are pretty addictive, a tasty way to use your radishes and fresh herbs, best when both the tortillas and fish are still warm.


Serves 4




50g bunch of fresh coriander

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Flaky salt and freshly ground pepper


2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

110g  radishes, sliced

4 small scallions or spring onions, sliced at an angle

½-1 chilli, seeded and chopped


½ cucumber, halved, seeded and cut in long slivers at an angle.

700g  John Dory or sea bass, skinned

½ teaspoon coriander seed


12 corn tortillas (15cm)


Preheat the oven to 250ËšC/gas mark 9


First make the salsa.

Whizz the coriander, 2 tablespoon water, 2 tablespoon lime juice, 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and salt and freshly ground pepper in a food processor until smooth.  Transfer to a small bowl, cover and chill.

Mix another couple of tablespoons of lime juice, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and the sliced radishes, spring onions and chilli.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Brush a baking sheet with a little oil. Lay the skinned fish fillets in a single layer.  Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a sprinkling of freshly roasted and ground coriander seed.

Roast in the pre-heated oven for 3-4 minutes.


Meanwhile, hold the corn tortillas over a gas jet with a tongs, to warm, about 30 seconds.

Fill each tortilla with a couple of chunks of fish, radish, scallion and chilli salad, and a couple of pieces of cucumber. Drizzle with salsa verde, fold over and repeat with the others.

Serve three per person with a wedge of lime.



Melted Green Onions with Thyme Leaves

We so look forward to cooking the new season’s onions this way.  Use every scrap of the green leaves. They are sweet, mild and melting, delicious with all sorts of things, but particularly good with a well-hung sirloin or chump steak or a duck breast.


Serves 6-8


900g young green onions

3 – 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons  thyme leaves

salt and freshly ground pepper


Peel and trim the onions leaving root base intact. Slice the white and green part of the onions into rounds.   Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a heavy saucepan and toss the onions in it.  Add thyme leaves, season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Cook on a low heat until soft for approximately 15 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning and serve in a hot vegetable dish.

Asparagus, Rocket and Wild Garlic Frittata


Quick while the asparagus and wild garlic are still in season.

The pan size is crucial here.  If you don’t have the exact size, increase the eggs so the frittata is 4cm deep, otherwise the frittata is likely to be thin and tough.


Serves 6



This is an example of how we incorporate seasonal ingredients into a frittata.


8 eggs, preferably free-range, organic

225g (8oz) thin asparagus

1 teaspoon salt and lots of freshly ground pepper

50g (2oz) Parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated, or a mixture

2-3 tablespoons roughly chopped wild garlic and rocket leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil



wild garlic and rocket leaves and flowers


non-stick frying pan – 19cm (7 1/2 inch) bottom, 23cm (9 inch) top rim


Bring about 2.5cm (1 inch) of water to the boil in an oval casserole.  Trim the tough ends of the asparagus, add salt to the water and blanch the spears until just tender for 3 or 4 minutes.  Drain. Slice the end of the spears evenly at an angle keep 4cm at the top intact. Save for later.


Whisk the eggs together into a bowl.  Add the blanched asparagus except the tops, most of the Parmesan and wild garlic leaves.  Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper.


Heat the oil in the pan, add egg mixture and reduce the heat to the bare minimum – use a heat diffuser mat if necessary.  Continue to cook over a gentle heat until just set – about 15 minutes.  Alternatively after an initial 4 or 5 minutes on the stove one can transfer the pan to a preheated oven (and this is my preferred option), 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3 until just set 10-15 minutes. Arrange the asparagus tops over the top.  Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.  Pop under a grill for a few minutes but make sure it is at least 5 inches from the element.  It should be set and slightly golden. Turn out on a warm plate, cut into wedges and serve immediately with a salad of organic leaves, including wild garlic and rocket.


Garnish with wild garlic flowers



Basil Ice-Cream with Roast Peaches


Makes 600ml


This is a wonderfully rich ice-cream.  Unexpectedly delicious, we love it with precious ripe figs from the greenhouse.


Serves 6


1/2 vanilla bean (pod)

45g fresh basil leaves, torn

175ml whole milk

4 egg yolks

62g sugar

175ml rich cream, cold


Roast peaches with lemon verbena cream, see below, optional


Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a heavy saucepan.  Add the torn basil leaves. Add the bean pod and the milk.   Heat to just below the boiling point and remove from the heat.   Cover and allot to steep for 10 minutes.  Remove the bean pod and scrape again to release every bit of flavour.  Add the scrapings to the milk and discard the pod.


Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together.  Add warm milk gradually, stirring constantly until all the milk is added.  Return to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of a spoon (170º-175º), 8-10 minutes approx.


Pour the cream into a large bowl.  Strain the basil custard into the cream.  Mix well, then chill thoroughly.


Freeze according to the directions of your ice-cream machine.

Serve on chilled plates with roast peaches.


Roast Peaches with Lemon Verbena Cream


Serves 8

8 peaches

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons lemon juice

25g butter

Preheat the oven to 250C/Gas Mark 9

Lay 6 or 8 lemon verbena leaves on the base of an ovenproof gratin dish. Halve the peaches and remove the stones.  Melt the butter, add in the honey and lemon juice. Spoon over the peaches and roast them in a very hot oven for 8-10 minutes.  They should be soft and slightly charred at the edges.



600ml cream

1-2 tablespoons lemon verbena, finely chopped


Add the verbena to the cream and whisk lightly, should be very softly whipped


Serve the peaches warm with softly whipped verbena cream


Not sure how many of you know about a restaurant called Kricket in London. It’s now in Soho in central London but I first heard about it in 2015 and happily schlepped all the way to Brixton, where I’d heard about an excellent young chef called Rik Campbell who had opened his first 20 seat restaurant in a shipping container in Pop Brixton – a “village” made of shipping containers overflowing with street food start-up stalls, mini restaurants, chic cafes and independent shops. I loved the food and the super cool vibe.

Will Bowlby, head chef and co-founder, has brought an exciting new vision to the UK’s Indian food scene. He was shortlisted for Young British Foodies  “Chef of the Year” category for two years in a row and awarded national chef of the year by the Asian Curry Awards.

As far back as he can remember, Will Bowlby has been passionate about food. From his early memories of his maternal grandmother’s East African inspired curry lunches, his entrepreneurial efforts setting up a one-man catering company whilst at school to joining the team at Rowley Leigh’s flagship restaurant, Le Café Anglais, was it any wonder that at the age of just 24, Will was approached to work for one of the oldest and most respected Indian restaurants in Mumbai, Khyber. For two years Will was exposed to the Indian palate – a many layered and complicated concept influenced by religion, ethnicity and cultural preference – whilst creating authentic dishes with a modern European influence.

After that he embarked on a three month road trip around India tasting  street food everywhere he went. I too am a big fan of Indian street food,  the variety is mindboggling. Will returned to the UK with lots more exciting ideas and a plan to serve traditional regional recipes with a modern twist, delicious, affordable and contemporary Indian food made with the very best seasonal ingredients.

Following two years in Brixton, Will and Rik moved Kricket to central London, opening Kricket Soho, which was awarded a Bib Gourmand by the Michelin Guide and won best newcomer in The Asian Curry Awards. Kricket has quickly attained a cult following and support from diners and chefs alike,

And now Kricket – an Indian inspired cookbook has been published so you and I can try to reproduce many of the exciting dishes we enjoy at the restaurant.

I’ve chosen just a few to tempt you but once you get a taste of Will’s recipes you will just have to have the book, published by Hardie Grant Books.


 This recipe is inspired by the flavours of Bengal, where fish and mustard have been used together for centuries. Here we are using mackerel, which must be super-fresh for this dish to taste its best. I prefer to cook the fish using a blow torch, so that it is remains a little raw in the middle, however a hot grill (broiler) will work just as well. If the fish is fresh, you shouldn’t smell it at all, so take care in choosing wisely.



4 large mackerel fillets, bones removed and filleted in half

3 tablespoons mustard oil

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons Kasundi mustard or other wholegrain mustard

a thumb-size piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely diced

a generous pinch of sea salt

50 g (2 oz) flaked (slivered) almonds

2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chilli powder (optional)

a pinch of chaat masala

a few coriander (cilantro) leaves,

to garnish



1 cucumber, seeds discarded and diced

200 ml (7 fl oz) Pickling Liquor



2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon onion seeds

1 Indian fresh bay leaf

2–3 green chillies, finely chopped

200 g (7 oz) fresh or frozen gooseberries

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

100 g (3 ½ oz/scant ½ cup) caster (superfine) sugar

sea salt, to taste

To make the pickled cucumber, steep the diced cucumber the in the pickling liquor for 1–2 hours, at room temperature, before putting in the fridge.


Prep the mackerel then mix together the oils, mustard, ginger and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Put the fish on a lined baking tray, spread the marinade over the flesh and leave for 30 minutes. For the chutney, heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan, over a medium heat, stir in the onion seeds, bay leaf, chillies, and gooseberries. Turn the heat down and cook for 5 minutes. Add the turmeric, sugar and a little salt, to taste. Continue to cook until half the gooseberries are broken up and the other half remain whole. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.


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

Scatter the almonds on a baking tray, sprinkle over the chilli powder, if using, and shake to coat. Roast until browned and fragrant. Remove from the oven, toss with the chaat masala and allow to cool.


Take the tray of marinated mackerel and char the skin with a blow torch. The heat will refract from the tray underneath, allowing the fish to cook from both sides, leaving it slightly pink in the middle. Alternatively, you can use a grill (broiler). Arrange the fish on a plate, garnish with coriander leaves and serve with the gooseberry chutney, almonds and pickled cucumber.



I use this to use with all kinds of vegetables but cucumber is a special favourite. It will

keep in the refrigerator for several weeks – it keeps forever! If you want to make a smaller amount, the recipe is based on equal quantities of vinegar and sugar.




500 ml (17 fl oz) white wine vinegar

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) caster (superfine) sugar

2 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

4 cloves

2 fresh Indian bay leaves


Put all the ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat and stir occasionally until all the sugar dissolves.


Remove from the heat and set aside to cool before decanting into a sterilised jar. Store


From Kricket, An Indian Inspired Cookbook by Will Bowlby, photography Hugh Johnson, published by Hardie Grant Books



 On my most recent trip to Goa, I was introduced to a new restaurant hidden amongst  the trees, off the beaten path in the north. The menu here changes daily, according to what is on offer and fresh that day. Here I had my first experience of oysters in India, and the memory stuck with me. The local oysters were served raw with coconut and green chillies. We do the same in the restaurant, using native British oysters – Porthilly happen to be my favourites – with the addition of sweet little bits of pickled cucumber. To enhance the flavour of this dish, you can garnish the oysters with an oyster leaf, but they can be hard to come by, so if you can’t find them, don’t worry!



20 fresh oysters of choice

200 g (7 oz) coconut cream



100 g (3 ½ oz) caster (superfine) sugar

a pinch of sea salt

200 ml (7 fl oz) water

4 green chillies

2 bunches of fresh coriander (cilantro)



1 cucumber, deseeded and finely diced

100 ml (3 ½ fl oz) Pickling Liquor

Begin by making the green chilli granita. Dissolve the sugar and salt in the water in a small heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the green chillies and coriander to the cooled seasoned water and place in a blender and blitz to a paste. You should

end up with a vibrant green mixture. Place in a plastic freezeproof tub and place in the freezer. After 30 minutes, break up the crystals using a fork to stop it from solidifying. Do this for a few hours until you have the desired granita consistency.


To make the pickles, steep the cucumber in the pickling liquor for 1–2 hours at room temperature, then keep in the refrigerator until needed.


Open the oysters using an oyster knife, ensuring that you loosen the flesh from the shell but retaining all the liquid. To serve, arrange the oysters on a platter and spoon a little coconut cream on top of each oyster, followed by a spoonful of the chilli granita and then a little pickled cucumber. Serve straight away.

 From Kricket, An Indian Inspired Cookbook by Will Bowlby, photography Hugh Johnson, published by Hardie Grant Books





 This is a very straightforward recipe that originally hails from Calcutta. Be careful to follow the steps correctly and you can’t go wrong. The end result is a creamy, sweet set baked yoghurt with a hint of cardamom.



250 ml (8 ½fl oz) condensed milk

250 g (9 oz) Greek yoghurt

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

50 g (2 oz) rose petals

100 ml (3 ½ oz) sugar syrup (see recipe)

4 teaspoons of roughly chopped pistachio nuts

seeds of 1 small pomegranate

a few sprigs of fresh mint leaves, to serve


Preheat the oven to 160oC (320oF/Gas 3).


Place 4 ramekins (custard cups) in a large roasting pan and fill with hot water to come two-thirds up the outer sides of the ramekins.


Combine the condensed milk, yoghurt and ground cardamom in a bowl and mix well.


Divide the mixture among the prepared ramekins and bake in the bain-marie for 6 minutes.


Meanwhile, soak the rose petals in the sugar syrup for a few minutes. Remove and place in a small bowl.


Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and allow to cool before transferring them to a refrigerator to cool completely. Garnish with chopped pistachio, pomegranate seeds, sugared-rose petals and mint.




 A lot of my cocktails use a simple sugar syrup which can be made in advance, and kept in the fridge. It will last for about 1 month.


MAKES 750 ML ( 2 5 FL OZ)

750 ml (25fl oz) filtered water

750 g (1lb 10 oz) caster (superfine) sugar


To make a simple sugar syrup, just put the water in a large heavy-based saucepan with the sugar. Heat until the sugar dissolves, then boil for 15 minutes.


Leave to cool, then store in a sterilised glass bottle – a screw-topped wine bottle is excellent. Keep in the refrigerator until required. This syrup lasts for a very long time if stored correctly.

From Kricket, An Indian Inspired Cookbook by Will Bowlby, photography Hugh Johnson, published by Hardie Grant Books





Every spring my mother gathers huge quantities of wild garlic from the woods around our Sussex home, in the UK. Kilos of the young leaves are brought to the restaurant and blitzed into oil and frozen, which we have found is the best way to keep wild garlic. It affects neither the colour nor the taste, and from there it can easily be made into a chutney.  Towards the middle of the season, the flowers of the plant are perfect for garnishes, with their hot, intense flavour, or they can be left to ferment for use later in the year.



500 g (1lb 2 oz) fresh coriander (cilantro), stems and leaves

500 g (1lb 2 oz) wild garlic leaves

4 green chillies

a thumb-size piece of fresh ginger root

2 garlic cloves, peeled

200 ml (7fl oz) vegetable oil

5 tablespoons lemon juice

caster (superfine) sugar, to taste

sea salt, to taste


Put the coriander, wild garlic, green chillies, ginger and garlic in a blender, then, with the motor running, gradually pour in the oil until you reach a smooth consistency. Add the lemon juice and season to taste with sugar and salt. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

If you need to keep it for longer, omit the lemon juice and add just before serving.

From Kricket, An Indian Inspired Cookbook by Will Bowlby, photography Hugh Johnson, published by Hardie Grant Books




This chutney pairs beautifully with mackerel and can be used with other fish dishes, or even some game dishes.



200 ml (7fl oz) vegetable oil

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon onion seeds

3 dried Kashmiri red chillies

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

500 g (1lb 2 oz) fresh or frozen gooseberries

sea salt, to taste

caster (superfine) sugar, to taste


Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan, add the fennel and onion seeds and the chillies and stir, then add the ground turmeric and cook for a further 30 seconds, stirring constantly to prevent it from burning.


Add the gooseberries, reduce the heat and cook for 20 minutes until you achieve a jammy consistency.


Season to taste with a little salt and plenty of sugar to balance out the sourness of the gooseberries.


Store in sterilised jars and keep in the refrigerator until required. It will last for up to 2 weeks.

From Kricket, An Indian Inspired Cookbook by Will Bowlby, photography Hugh Johnson, published by Hardie Grant Books

Exciting New Books

Exciting new books are piling up on my desk, some have been, kindly sent by publishers, others by the authors themselves and then there are several that have particularly caught my eye in bookshops. I love small independent bookshops, I can’t seem to pass one without slipping in for a root and a meander along the shelves of tempting titles. I am also acutely aware of how badly they need support at a time when so many of us are tempted to order on-line.


I found a copy of a charming book entitled ‘The Little Library Cook Book’ in Whyte’s Books on the Main Street in Schull. Its written by London based, Kate Young, a writer whose name was unfamiliar to me. She is originally Australian and according to the blurb on the inner flap, spent her childhood indoors, reading books where she found ‘comfort, inspiration and distraction’. It’s a beautifully produced book, elegantly written in erudite prose. Many of the tempting recipes are inspired by food in literature, gorgeous home cooking that makes you want to don your apron and dash into the kitchen, beautiful photos on beautiful paper, comforting food and comforting reading…


The Happy Pear brothers, who the Sunday Times dubbed “the poster boys for a healthy way of life”, have brought out a sequel to their two number one best sellers, The Happy and The World of the Happy Pear.

Lots more vegetarian and plant based recipes (the new buzz word) for economical easy dinners that can be rustled up in as little as fifteen minutes. How tempting does Chickpea Tikka Masala sound? Also some gorgeous hearty dishes like Hungarian Goulash and hearty Greek stew.


At the other end of the spectrum – a surprising new book entitled ‘Goat’ piqued my curiosity. I love goat meat and really wish I could get it on a regular basis.  Those who travel to India, Sri Lanka and other parts of Asia will have realised that the flavourful mutton curry they have enjoyed is in fact made from goat meat. On the cover of this eye catching book is an endearing photo of a billy-goat, who nowadays are considered of little commercial value so are normally euthanized at birth. This was the reason why James Whetlor was moved to write this book. James worked at River Cottage for years before founding his ethical company Cabrito, which supplies kid and goat meat to chefs and shops in the UK. Can some young entrepreneur over here please follow…This publication highlights the fact that that goat meat has long been overlooked and is packed with delicious recipe for slow cooked curries, stews, braises, roasts, even kebabs and stir fries.


The Happy Pear, Chickpea Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka masala has been called the UK’s national dish, originating when a chef added tomato soup to a curry to make it less spicy! Our version, based on chickpeas and aubergines, is rich, creamy, and lovely and ‘meaty’!


For the paste

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

2 cloves of garlic

a thumb-size piece of fresh ginger

½ a fresh red chilli a bunch of fresh coriander

1 heaped teaspoon garam masala

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

1½ teaspoons sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon tomato purée

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes


For the curry

3 scallions

300g mushrooms (we love oyster, but any mushrooms will do)

1½ tablespoons oil

2 x 400g tins of chickpeas

1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk

juice of ½ a lime

chilli flakes (optional)



In a dry frying pan, fry the cumin and coriander seeds for 3–5 minutes on a high heat until the cumin seeds start to pop, stirring regularly. Peel the garlic and ginger.


To make your paste, whiz together the garlic, ginger, chilli, the stalks from the fresh coriander (setting the leaves aside for later), the garam masala, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, tomato purée, chopped tomatoes and the toasted cumin and coriander seeds in a blender until smooth.


Chop the scallions into small slices and cut the mushrooms into small bite-size pieces. Put the oil into a large frying pan over a high heat, and once the pan and oil are hot, add the mushrooms and fry for 3–4 minutes. If the mushrooms start to stick, add a few tablespoons of the paste.


Drain the chickpeas, rinse thoroughly and add to the pan together with the chopped scallions, the rest of the paste and the coconut milk. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for a further 2 minutes.


Squeeze in the lime juice, taste, and season with more salt, pepper and maybe some chilli flakes if you think it needs it. Chop the reserved coriander leaves roughly and sprinkle over each serving as a garnish.


Lovely served with soya yoghurt and toasted almond flakes on top.
From  Recipes for Happiness by David and Stephen Flynn. Published by Penguin Ireland



Kid Korma


James writes “I’m is a  dairy addict, this and Rogan Josh are two of my favourite curries – the yoghurt (and the almonds in the korma) give such a lovely richness. Neither of these two curries is hot, but you can add a few chilli flakes to the Rogan Josh if you like.

I batch-cook a lot at home and these are perfect for that. Double the recipe and freeze what you don’t eat, then you’ll have homemade ready meals for when you can’t be bothered to cook. Serve with rice, naan and chilli and garlic chutney.”


Serves 4


100g/scant ½ cup plain yoghurt

juice of 1 lemon

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ nutmeg, freshly grated

600g/1lb 5oz diced kid

20g/1 ½ tablespoons butter

splash of vegetable oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

A big pinch of saffron strands, soaked in

2 tablespoons warm water

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 tablespoon sugar

40g/scant ½ cup ground almonds


3 tablespoons chopped coriander (cilantro), to serve (optional)


In a bowl, mix half the yoghurt and half the lemon juice with the cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and ½ teaspoon salt.


Add the meat and turn to coat. Set aside to marinate (the longer the better).


Heat the butter with the oil in a large frying pan, add the onion and fry for 10 minutes until soft.

Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a few seconds, then add the meat in its marinade, the saffron in its soaking water and half the garam masala, and fry for 5 minutes to thicken.

Add 250ml/1 cup water, the sugar, ground almonds and ½ teaspoon salt, cover and gently simmer for about 1 hour, until tender, giving it a stir every now and then.

If the sauce needs to be thicker, cook it uncovered for the last 15 minutes.

Stir in the rest of the yoghurt, a squeeze more lemon juice and the rest of the garam masala, then check the seasoning and serve straight away, topped with coriander (cilantro), if you like.



Kid Goat Raan


Kricket started life as a pop-up in a shipping container in Brixton, and was such as success that it has grown into a modern Indian restaurant in London’s Soho. This is probably one of my favourite dishes in the book. Anything with a litre of double (heavy) cream in it is OK by me. The recipe looks … unconventional, but stick at it. It comes together beautifully in the end.


Serves 10


1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon grated garlic

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 leg of kid

3 tablespoons Kashmiri chilli powder

2 tablespoons salt

3 star anise

2 cinnamon sticks

6 whole cloves

8 black peppercorns

2 black cardamom pods

4 green cardamom pods

600ml/2 ½  cups malt vinegar

1 litre/4 cups double (heavy) cream

pinch of saffron strands, soaked in a little warm water

2 tablespoons garam masala

chopped mint leaves and pomegranate seeds, to serve


In a small food processor or blender, blitz the ginger and garlic together with the oil to form a smooth paste. Rub the leg all over with the paste, the chilli powder and salt, and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge.


Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Place the leg in a large casserole or pot that has a lid, add the whole spices, vinegar and enough water to just cover the meat. Cover and cook in the oven for

30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3 and cook for a further 4–5 hours, until the meat is falling off the bone.


Remove the casserole from the oven, take the leg out of the braising liquid and set aside until cool enough to handle. Transfer the braising liquid to a pan and boil over a high heat until thickened and the salt levels taste correct. Strain into a clean pan, reduce the heat and add the cream, saffron and its soaking liquid, and the garam masala. Simmer for a further 5 minutes, check the seasoning and set aside to cool.


Meanwhile, pull away the meat from the bone and set aside.


When you are ready to serve, heat a frying pan over a high heat and sear off the meat in small batches to give it a nice crispy exterior. Return it all to the frying pan, add the braising sauce and stir through the goat until it is nicely coated. Serve the raan sprinkled with  chopped mint and pomegranate.

GOAT: COKING AND EATING by James Whetlor (Quadrille Publishing) Photography: Mike Lusmore



Neil Rankin

Goat Tacos


I was sitting in a reclining chair in the South of France in 2013, flicking through Twitter, when I saw Neil making these tacos at Meatopia, and it changed the way I thought about our product for good: it made me believe that kid could move out of its niche and break into the mainstream. Now at Temper, Neil has transformed the way people think about cooking with live fire, and we have pulled along in his wake. Thanks, Neil.


Makes 10


1 whole shoulder of kid, about

1.5–2kg/3 ¼ –4 ½ lb

150g/1 ½ cups masa harina

1 tablespoon olive oil

50g/1 ¾ oz chipotle in adobo, blended until smooth

100g/scant ½ cup sour cream

1 avocado, diced

juice of 2 limes

2 jalapeno chillies, finely sliced

1 red onion, finely sliced

small bunch of coriander (cilantro), leaves only



For the green sauce

25g/1oz coriander (cilantro), leaves and stalks

6 garlic cloves, chopped

grated zest of 1 lime

50ml/1 ¾ fl oz lime juice

Preheat the oven to 130°C/250°F/gas mark 1.


Season the shoulder with salt, place in a roasting pan, cover with foil and cook in the oven for 5 hours.


While the meat is roasting, make the taco dough. Mix the masa harina with a pinch of salt, then add the olive oil and about 100ml/scant ½ cup of water to achieve a smooth dough. If it’s too sticky, add more flour; too dry, more water. Roll into a ball, cover in cling film (plastic

wrap) and refrigerate until needed.


Mix the blended chipotle with the sour cream and set aside.


Meanwhile, make the green sauce. Place all the ingredients in a blender or small food processor and whiz until smooth. Once the meat is cooked and tender, remove from the oven and set aside at room temperature to cool, then pull off chunks of meat and use the fat left in the tray to keep it moist.


Heat a non-stick or cast-iron pan on the hob until nice and hot. Roll the taco dough into about 10 small balls, then roll each ball between 2 pieces of greaseproof paper, pressing down to make a flat circle.

Dry-fry in batches in the hot pan for 1 minute on each side, and repeat until the dough is used up, stacking up the cooked tacos on a plate as you go. Build the taco with the pulled meat and diced avocado.

Drench in freshly squeezed lime juice, top with the chipotle-sour cream, green sauce, and slices of jalapeno and red onion. Finish with the coriander (cilantro) leaves.


GOAT: COKING AND EATING by James Whetlor (Quadrille Publishing) Photography: Mike Lusmore


Kate Young’s Brown Butter Madeleines


She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called ‘petites madeleines,’ which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim’s shell.

Swann’s Way, À la recherche du temps perdu, Marcel Proust



Makes around 20 madeleines

110g/4oz unsalted butter
2 large eggs
100g/3½oz superfine sugar
100g/3½oz  plain/all-purpose flour
1teaspoon baking powder
15g/1tablespoon  melted butter for greasing
Icing/confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Electric mixer or whisk, if you have one
Madeleine tin (mine has large 7.5cm/3in moulds)

Melt the butter over a low heat. Once melted, tip half into a dish and set aside. Leave the other half over the heat until butter has turned brown and gives off a nutty aroma. Remove from the heat and add this browned butter to the dish of melted butter.

Beat the eggs with the caster sugar in a bowl until very thick, which should take at least 5 minutes using an electric mixer or whisk.

Sift the flour and baking powder into the egg and sugar mixture and fold in gently with a spatula. Fold in the butter, then cover and chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight if that’s easier.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas 6 and generously brush the madeleine tin with melted butter. Dust with a little flour, then pop the tin in the freezer for 10 minutes. Fill the tray with the batter – around ⅔ full is enough, as the sponge will spread as it rises.

Bake for 7–9 minutes, until brown and risen, then tip out of the tin and leave to cool on the rack. You’ll have enough batter to do a second, and possibly third, batch. Dust all the madeleines with icing sugar and serve, warm, with a cup


From “The Little Library Cookbook” by Kate Young, photographs by Lean Timms. Published by Anima, an imprint of Head of Zeus


Kate Young’s Honey and Rosemary Cakes


‘That’s funny,’ he thought. ‘I know I had a jar of honey there. A full jar, full of honey right up to the top, and it had HUNNY written on it, so that I should know it was honey.’ 

Winnie-the-Pooh, A. A. Milne



Makes 10


170g/6oz  butter
115g/4oz dark brown sugar
175g/6oz honey
200g/7oz plain flour
1 ½tsp baking powder
½tsp ground cinnamon
1tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
2 eggs, beaten
100g/3½oz cream cheese
300g/10½oz confectioners’ sugar
Rosemary Honey Drizzle
150g/5½oz honey
2 sprigs rosemary


Deep 12-cup muffin tray
Palette knife


Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4 and grease the muffin tins with a little of the butter. Place the rest of the butter, along with the sugar, honey and 1tbsp water, into the saucepan. Heat gently, stirring only once, until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved. It will look like it’s separated, but don’t stress, this is normal. Set aside to cool.


Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon together, and add the finely chopped rosemary.


When the honey mixture is cool, stir in the beaten eggs. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until the mixture is smooth.


Divide the mixture between the well-greased tins, making sure they are all around two-thirds full. Bake for around 25 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the tins, then turn out and transfer to a wire rack.


Whisk the cream cheese until light and airy. Sift the icing sugar and beat it into the cheese, to create a smooth and creamy icing that holds its shape.


When the cakes are completely cold, ice them using a palette knife to drop the icing onto the cake, then round it off at the edges.


To make the rosemary honey drizzle, put the honey in a saucepan with the rosemary leaves and bring to the boil. As soon as the honey starts bubbling, turn off the heat and allow the flavours to infuse for at least 20 minutes. Pour the mixture into a jar – it will keep for a good few weeks, and tastes wonderful on roasted carrots as well as cakes.


To serve, warm the rosemary honey in the saucepan and spoon over an iced cake. Eat immediately.


From “The Little Library Cookbook” by Kate Young, photographs by Lean Timms. Published by Anima, an imprint of Head of Zeus







Wild and Free

Young nettles everywhere at present , wild and free and bursting with the vitamins, minerals and trace elements that we need after that long punishing winter we’ve all endured. Now that Spring is in here young growth is leaping from the ground in both urban areas and throughout the countryside. Nettles irk the gardener but it’s worth remembering that they are a powerhouse of nutrients so let’s just relish our weeds. Our grannies and granddads and ancestors all knew the value of incorporating iron rich nettles (more iron than either kale or  asparagus) into your diet. In fact they have been a part of Irish diet for over 6,000 years, ever since the first farmers cleared the forests.

There was an old saying, that one should eat “four feeds of nettles during the month of May to purify the blood and keep away the rheumatics.”

There are many references to these plants in ancient manuscripts. Monks added them to their pottages and knew their value as a blood cleanser. Alexanders ramps and nettles are some of the earliest wild foods in the season; and now that foraging has become super cool, many chefs have also rediscovered wild foods and have been incorporating these ingredients into their menus in a myriad of creative ways. We ourselves have seen the increase in demand for organic nettles at our stall at the Farmers’ Market in nearby Midleton.

Many will or of course know that the common nettle, (Urtica dioica),  so wear long sleeves and long trousers when you are picking – you’ll also need gloves to protect your hands. If you do get stung, rub the affected area with a dock leaf (Rumex obtusifolius), because the sap will relieve the pain. Mother Nature has arranged that the antidote usually grows close by.


What our grandparents deduced is now scientifically proven. Herbalists confirm that as well as iron, nettles contain formic acid, histamine, ammonia, silicic acid and potassium. Some of these compounds are known to alleviate rheumatism, sciatica and other pains. They lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels, increase the haemoglobin in the blood, improve circulation and purify the system – so our ancestors weren’t far wrong…..Nettles are also a well-known and highly regarded diuretic which helps to eliminate toxins from kidneys. They also aid digestion and are anecdotally used to eliminate worms.


We use them in a myriad of ways; out in the garden Eileen O’Donovan makes a ‘stinky’ nettle plant tea, which is splendid nitrogen-rich plant food.

In the kitchen we discover more and more ways to enjoy nettles. Needless to say we don’t eat them raw – they lose their sting as soon as they are cooked or even wilted in the pan with other greens. Stinging nettle soup is delicious as it is, simply made with an onion and potato base or in conjunction with other greens, such as watercress, sorrel or chick weed. Blanch the nettles well in boiling water and refresh then purée or add to spinach and ricotta as a filling for cappelletti or tortellini. They also work well on pizza, see Nettle and Ricotta Pizza recipe in my Saturday 24th March column, and even though they are added raw they lose their sting in the oven.

It’s also so worth making nettle beer, it’ll be ready to drink within 3 or 4 weeks and its properly delicious, surprising as it may seem Nettle pesto is also super delicious.


Roger’s Nettle Beer


We are huge fans of Roger Philips and found this recipe in his “Wild Food” book. It made delicious beer – sweet, fizzy, perfect for summertime. Unfortunately we  bottled it before it had finished fermenting, and one night, the glass bottles exploded. Oh well, practice makes perfect!


Makes 12 litres


100 nettle stalks, with leaves

11 litres (3 gallons) water

1.3kg (3lb) granulated sugar

50g (2oz) cream of tartar

10g (1⁄2 oz) live yeast


Boil the nettles in the water for 10 minutes. Strain, and add the sugar and the cream of tartar. Heat and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat and leave until tepid, then add the yeast and stir well. Cover with muslin and leave for a week.


Remove the scum and decant without disturbing the sediment. Bottle, cork and secure the top. Leave at room temperature for about 2 weeks or until starting to bubble, then drink within a few weeks.


Stinging Nettle Soup

We love this coup, which includes leeks as well as onion and potato to give an extra silkiness to the texture and flavour to the soup. We use tender young nettle tops in Spring.


Serves 6


45g (1 1⁄2 oz) butter

285g (10oz) potatoes, peeled and chopped

110g (4oz) onions, chopped

110g (4oz) leeks, chopped

1 litre (1 3⁄4 pints) chicken stock

140g (5oz) young nettles tips, washed and chopped

150ml (5fl oz) full-cream milk

salt and freshly ground pepper

nettle pesto


Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. When it foams, add the chopped onion and potato, toss them in the butter until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover with a paper lid (to trap the steam) and the saucepan lid, and

sweat over a gentle heat for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft but not coloured. Discard the paper lid, add the stock and boil until the vegetables are just cooked, add the nettle leaves and simmer uncovered for just a few minutes. Do

not overcook or the vegetables will lose their flavour. Add the milk and liquidise. Taste and correct seasoning if necessary. Serve hot.


Nettle Champ

Serves 4-6


675g (1lb 3ozs) old potatoes, e.g. Golden Wonders

1 tea cup chopped nettles

300ml (10fl oz) milk

30-55g (1-2 ozs) butter

salt and freshly ground pepper


Scrub the potatoes and cook in boiling salted water until tender. Meanwhile, chop the young nettle tops and cook in the milk for approx. 20 minutes. As soon as the potatoes are cooked, drain and peel immediately while they are still hot. Mash until soft and free of lumps. Pour in the boiling milk add the nettles and a good lump of butter, beat until soft and creamy. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve hot with a lump of butter melting into the centre.


Chickpeas with Nettle Pesto and Parmesan

Serves 8 (small plates)


110 g (4 oz) chickpeas

flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

extra virgin olive oil

nettle pesto (see below)

finely grated Parmesan



The day before:  put the chickpeas in a bowl and cover with at least double volume of cold water.

The next day: drain the chickpeas, cover with fresh water or stock (could be chicken or vegetable stock) bring to the boil and simmer for  anything between 30 and 60 minutes depending on quality  until fully cooked and soft.

Meanwhile make the nettle pesto.

When the chickpeas are cooked drain, add salt, freshly ground black pepper and extra virgin olive oil to taste.

To serve: reheat if necessary, correct seasoning.

Spoon a couple of tablespoons onto a small plate, drizzle with nettle pesto.

Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and serve immediately with good bread.


Nettle Pesto


Makes 2-3 x 200ml jars

110g (4oz) nettle tops

1 clove garlic

50g (2oz) grated Parmesan

25g (1oz) peeled and toasted almonds or cashew nuts, roughly chopped

225ml  (8fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to the boil.  Blanch the nettle tops for 1 minute and refresh in cold water.  Drain well.  Place the nettles, garlic, almonds, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor, whizz for a few seconds.  Add the olive oil and whizz again.  Finally add the Parmesan and whizz for a few more seconds. Store in sterilised jars covered in a layer of olive oil.




Past Letters