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.



Spring Vegetables

Oh my goodness, a whiff of Spring at last, Was that not the longest and often dreariest Winter many of us can remember? I loved tucking into many warming stews, tagines and slow cooked braises but now I’m so ready for the fresh tastes of Spring. The Jerusalem artichokes that have added excitement and so much nourishment to our Winter meals have now started to sprout are gone past their best for eating but try get your hands on some so you can plant a few tubers of this superb vegetable for next year.

We’ve been loving rhubarb for the past few weeks and now we have sea kale – Alleluia. Such joy, to lift off the cloches to discover the blanched stalks of seakale ready to harvest. It’s Latin name is Crambe Maritima and I believe it is the only truly seasonable vegetable there is. It’s in season in April, you are unlikely to find it is your local supermarket, but possibly in a brilliant small greengrocer or a Farmer’s Market.

Look out for it at Midleton Farmer’s Market for the next few weeks, by the end of the month the first of the Irish asparagus will be in season but only until the beginning of June.

Whereas seakale and asparagus may sound luxurious and exotic they are not the only nourishing and delicious foods to get excited about at present. Young nettles abound throughout the countryside, a growing band of foragers are harvesting them to deliver to cool chefs who are excited to showcase wild and foraged foods on their menus.

We’ve also been enjoying Winter cress or bittercress as it’s sometimes called. The peppery leaves are delicious in salads and deliver quite the burst of vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Pennywort or navelwort is in abundance, growing out of stones walls, tree trunks and in woods. The fleshy leaves add extra deliciousness and nutrients to starters and salads and make an enchanting garnish for months on end.

When you start to keep your eyes peeled for edible treasure, all of the above are free to gather in both urban and rural areas.

Bitter little dandelion leaves too add zip to a salad and you’ll hate the taste at first but soon grow to love that bitter flavour so lacking in our diets at present. One can also blanch the leaves as the continentals do by covering the plant with a large lid or bucket to exclude the light for several weeks until the leaves lose their green dark colours and become pale yellow and temptingly sweet.

Here are just a few recipes to showcase some of Nature’s bounty, enjoy…

Top tip: Wild foraged foods. A growing number of restaurants are incorporating wild and foraged foods including seaweeds from our shore line into their menu. Check out Pilgrims in Rosscarbery, The Mews in Baltimore Ballymaloe House, The Glebe Garden Café in Skibbereen…..

Where can I taste Seakale?

Ballymaloe House in Shanagarry will be serving seakale from the walled garden on its menu throughout the month of April and into early May. The seakale plants have been growing and tended in the two acre walled garden in Ballymaloe for over 60 years. Now that’s a perennial vegetable worth making space for.

To buy seakale plants try or


Seakale on Toast with Prawns and Hollandaise Sauce

The cooking time depends on the freshness of the seakale. As you can imagine, cooked mussels would be delicious here also.


Serves 4-6


600ml water

1 teaspoon salt

450g seakale

30g butter

18 prawns, cooked and peeled

6 slices of toast, buttered

Hollandaise Sauce (see recipe)



a small bunch of chervil


Wash the seakale gently and trim into manageable lengths – about 10cm.  Bring the water to a fast boil and add the salt.  Add the seakale, cover and boil until tender – about 4-6 minutes.  The cooking time depends on the freshness of the seakale, as you can imagine. Cooked mussels would be delicious here also. Just as soon as a knife will pierce the seakale easily, drain it.


Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan on a gentle heat and toss in the prawns to warm through.


Serve the seakale with the prawns on hot buttered toast, and drizzle generously with Hollandaise Sauce.  Pop a little bunch of chervil on top of each toast and serve immediately.



Hollandaise Sauce


Serves 4-6, depending on what it is to be served with


Hollandaise is the mother of all the warm emulsion sauces.  The version we use here is easy to make and quite delicious with fish.  Like Mayonnaise it takes less than 5 minutes to make and transforms any fish into a feast.  Once the sauce is made it must be kept warm: the temperature should not go above 70-80C or the sauce will curdle. A thermos flask can provide a simple solution on a small scale, otherwise put the Hollandaise Sauce into a delph or plastic bowl in a saucepan of hot but not simmering water.  Hollandaise Sauce cannot be reheated absolutely successfully so it’s best to make just the quantity you need.  If however you have a little left over, use it to enrich other sauces or mashed potato.


2 egg yolks, preferably free-range and organic

110g butter cut into dice

1 dessertspoon cold water

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, approx.


Put the egg yolks in a heavy stainless saucepan on a low heat, or in a bowl over hot water.  Add water and whisk thoroughly.  Add the butter bit by bit, whisking all the time.  As soon as one piece melts, add the next piece.  The mixture will gradually thicken, but if it shows signs of becoming too thick or slightly scrambling, remove from the heat immediately and add a little cold water if necessary.  Do not leave the pan or stop whisking until the sauce is made.  Finally add the lemon juice to taste.  If the sauce is slow to thicken it may be because you are excessively cautious and the heat is too low.  Increase the heat slightly and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens to coating consistency.

It is important to remember that if you are making Hollandaise Sauce in a saucepan directly over the heat, it should be possible to put your hand on the side of the saucepan at any stage.  If the saucepan feels too hot for your hand it is also too hot for the sauce.

Another good tip if you are making Hollandaise Sauce for the first time is to keep a bowl of cold water close by so you can plunge the bottom of the saucepan into it if becomes too hot.

Keep the sauce warm until service either in a pyrex bowl over hot but not simmering water (do not have gas jet on).  A thermos flask is also a good option.


Burmese Pennywort Salad

  Serves 4


175g pennyworth

2-3 shallots, sliced and soaked in ice cold water

2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced


Shallot oil

1 tablespoon crushed peanuts

1 large or 2 small tomatoes, halved and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

2-3 tablespoons sesame seeds

2 teaspoons fermented bean paste

3 tablespoons fried shallots

Fish sauce or salt


Wash and dry the pennyworth leaves.

Slice the garlic paper thin and allow to dry on kitchen paper.

Heat some peanut oil in a frying pan and cook on a medium heat until crisp and golden.

Drain on kitchen paper.

Put the pennyworth onto a plate.  Sprinkle the garlic and shallot oil over the top, then the freshly squeezed lime juice, fermented bean paste, fish sauce, thinly sliced tomato and sesame seeds.

Toss and mix with your clean fingers as the Burmese do.  Add most of the fried shallots and half the peanuts.   Toss again.  Taste, correct seasoning.

Divide between 4 plates, sprinkle with the remainder of the fried shallots and peanuts.

Serve immediately, each salad is made to order.


Asparagus, Rocket and Wild Garlic Frittata


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 thin asparagus

1 teaspoon salt and lots of freshly ground pepper

50g 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 bottom, 23cm top rim


Bring about 2.5cm 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/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


Seakale Tempura with Chervil Mayonnaise

Serves 6-8 as a starter

 450g seakale


110g flour

2 tablesp cornflour

250ml iced water



225g chervil mayonnaise


Mix the cornflour into the water.  Put the flour into a bowl.  Add the water gradually, stirring with chopsticks, it will be a bit lumpy at first but a will eventually be a light creamy texture.  You may need to adjust the consistency by adding a drop more water or flour to get a thin even coating batter.

Heat the oil in a deep fry to 180C.

Trim the seakale and cut into pieces 10-11.5cm.   Dip one piece into the batter and fry for a couple of minutes or until crisp but not brown.  Taste for seasoning and adjust the batter if necessary.  Continue to cook the rest, drain on kitchen paper.

Thin the mayonnaise with a little water to a dip-like consistency.  Add lots of finely chopped chervil and a nice sprinkling of sea salt.

Serve the crisp tempura immediately with a little bowl of chervil mayonnaise.




Rhubarb and Sweet Cicely Compote

Rhubarb and sweet cicely are a wonderful combination as are rhubarb and strawberries now that strawberries have a longer season we can enjoy them together.

Serves 4

450g (1lb) red rhubarb, e.g. Timperely early

450ml (16fl ozs.) Stock Syrup (see below)

4 to 6 leaves of sweet cicely

Cut the rhubarb into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces. Put the cold syrup into a stainless steel saucepan, add the rhubarb and sweet cicely, cover, bring to the boil and simmer for just 1 minute, (no longer or it will dissolve into a mush). Turn off the heat and leave the rhubarb in the covered saucepan until just cold.



Stock Syrup


Stock syrup is the basis of homemade lemonade, fruit salad and all our compotes. We sometimes flavour it with sweet geranium, elderflower, mint or verbena leaves.


275g (10oz) sugar

600ml (1 pint) water


To make the stock syrup: Dissolve the sugar in the water* and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes then allow it to cool.  Store in the fridge until needed.

*Add the flavourings at this point if using.

Compote of Rhubarb with Sweet Geranium

Add 4-6 large sweet geranium leaves to the sugar and water before it comes to the boil, then continue as above – omit the strawberries from the recipe.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote

225-450g (8oz – 1lb) fresh strawberries, eg. Cambridge favourite, Elsanta or Rapella


Make the rhubarb compote as above


Hull the strawberries, slice lengthways and add to the cool rhubarb compote.  Chill and serve with a little pouring cream and a light biscuit.



Rhubarb Compote with Rosewater Cream

Poach the rhubarb in the usual way, allow to cool.  Serve with rosewater cream.



Rhubarb and Strawberry Smoothie


An energizer.


Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote (see above)



Drain off the syrup and save for Rhubarb Lemonade. Whizz the compote to a smooth puree with yoghurt. Taste add a little of the rhubarb and strawberry syrup if necessary.







Recently I was invited back to my home county, Laois to an event to raise awareness of the burgeoning food scene. The day-long conference was entitled Connect 2 Laois Food Futures. The idea – to nurture start-ups and further support established food businesses in the county. For the past year local food and drink producers have been   availing of specialist training, mentoring and encouragement. A variety of speakers including James Bourke, Domini Kemp, Colin Jepson, and Paddy O’Connell shared their expertise brilliantly but what really blew me away was the variety and quality of producers and artisan foods now produced within the county, much of it organic or chemical free. Kevin Scully of The Merry Mill told me that he is Ireland’s first producer of organic gluten free oats, all grown, harvested and milled on his farm in Vicarstown.

I found absolutely, beautiful salad greens on Rachel Hardiman’s Seven Acres stall, all grown on from organic seed without any harmful chemicals and in ways that actively promotes soil fertility and respect the environment. This entrepreneurial family also do vegetables boxes, sauces and condiments and sell seedlings ready to transplant.

Hazel Refal and Heather Vaughan have spent months developing numerous vegetarian products for their company Run On Pulses. They make a Lentil pie, a Chickpea spinach stew and three type of burgers all made from a variety of pulses. I’m very wary of this type of product having tasted some less then appetising examples but each of these were deliciously spiced and really good.


Jimmy Mulhall of Coolanaule farm, well known and hugely respected on the organic food scene tells me that he is the only certified organic producer selling organic meat in the Dublin Farmers Markets. His ever growing numbers of customers are so grateful to be able to get organic beef, lamb and pork and poultry.


Michael Onalimi inspired sauces from The Jungle Food Co also impressed me greatly as did the Invis – a Veg, who have created a mixture of grated  vegetables to entice children to try and enjoy a greater variety of vegetables.


Castlewood Organic Farm and Shop was another pioneer on the Laois food scene as was Helen Gee who established Gee’s jams in 1998 in Abbeyleix and is now supported by her son Clive. Several chocolatiers tempted me with their handmade chocolates, Apoena, Coco Couture…

Home bakers, Agaboe Farm Foods and Kelly Loves Cakes had many temptations.


There was Rossmore ice-cream made from milk from their own herd of  Friesian cows.

Pigs On The Green had free-range pork from outdoor pigs reared on their own farm. They too do a range of sausages and dry cure rashers, so no excuse not to have a brilliant real Irish breakfast in any hotel café or B&B in County Laois.

Free range eggs from Grantstown Family Farm in Ballacolla. Irish Pietmontese beef also has quite a following for their Bord Bia approved beef.


Paddy O’Connell’s range of Paddy O’s granolas and breakfast cereals made with Irish grown oats are now sold country wide as is their flax seed, the only certified organic flax seed company in Ireland.

Lots of drinks too, a variety of milks from The Village Dairy. Artisan beers from 12 Acres Brewing Company, in Ballykilcavan and Cream liqueur  and gin from Sean Teach Ltd.


I loved the Elderflower Cordials and Elderberry from Richmont Cordial Company


The Skinny Chef from Portlaoise was justifiably proud of his range of pesto sauces and chutney. Can you imagine all of that and more products in development all proudly displayed in the ballroom at the Heritage Killenard Hotel near  Portarlington, Co Laois.

Now a few recipes inspired by the gastronomic revolution in County Laois, Cork watch out…..


Spring Green Salad with Ballymaloe French Dressing

A salad of Organic Leaves from Seven Acres Farm

For this salad, use a selection of lettuces and salad leaves, e.g. Butterhead, Iceberg, Raddichio, Endive, Chicory, Watercress, Buckler leaf, Sorrel, Rocket leaves and Purslane.  Tips of purple sprouting broccoli are also delicious and if you feel like something more robust, use some finely-shredded Savoy cabbage and maybe a few shreds of red cabbage also.

French Dressing

2fl ozs (50ml) red wine vinegar

6fl ozs (150ml) olive oil or a mixture of olive and other oils. eg. sunflower and arachide

1 level teaspoon mustard (Dijon or English)

1 large clove of garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons honey

1 scallion or small spring onion

sprig of parsley

sprig of watercress

1 level teaspoon salt

few grinds of pepper


First, make the dressing.


Put all the ingredients into a blender and run at medium speed for 1 minute approximately or mix oil and vinegar in a bowl, add mustard, salt, freshly ground pepper and mashed garlic and honey. Chop the parsley, spring onion and watercress finely and add in. Whisk before serving.


Wash and dry the lettuces and other leaves very carefully in a large sink of cold water.  If large tear into bite sized pieces and put into a deep salad bowl.  Cover with cling film and refrigerate if not to be served immediately.  Just before serving toss with a little 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.

Spatchcock Chicken


A brilliant way to serve chicken – faster to cook and basis for a myriad of different flavours – fresh spices, chilies ….


Serves 6-8


1 free-range organic chicken

salt and freshly ground pepper

chopped rosemary or thyme leaves

extra virgin olive oil or butter

a few cloves of garlic


Insert a heavy chopping knife into the cavity of the chicken from the back end to the neck. Press down sharply to cut through the backbone. Alternatively place the chicken breast side down on the chopping board, using poultry shears cut along the entire length of the backbone as close to the centre as possible.


Open the bird out as much as possible.  Slash each chicken leg two or three times with a sharp knife. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, sprinkle with chopped rosemary or thyme and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Transfer to a roasting tin. Turn skin side upwards and tuck the whole garlic cloves underneath. Roast on the barbeque or in a preheated oven 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4 for 40 minutes approximately.


Note: Cook the chicken on a wire rack over a roasting tin of roast potatoes or vegetables.


Carve and serve hot with a good salad of organic leaves and a herb mayonnaise.


Good things to serve with spatchcock chicken:

Vedura mista and homemade mayonnaise and basil pesto

Roasted Fennell, Potatoes, Pickled Lemon, Saffron and Yoghurt

Rosemary Oil



Garbanzada (Chickpea Stew)

A fantastic one-pot chickpea dish for a party …..


Serves 10-12 as a tapa


1lb (450g) dried chickpeas

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced into 1/2 inch (1cm) dice

1 green pepper, diced into 1/2 inch (1cm) dice

6 cloves of garlic, cut in half

8 whole black peppercorns

225ml (8fl ozs) medium dry sherry

175g (6ozs) streaky pork in the piece, rind on

175g (6ozs) streaky bacon in the piece, rind on

175g (6ozs) cooking chorizo

175g (6ozs) morcilla or black pudding

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 tablespoon homemade tomato purée

1 large sprig of thyme

2 bay leaves

1.5-1.8 litres (2 1/2 – 3 pints) homemade chicken stock


Soak the chickpeas in plenty of cold water overnight. Next day, heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the onion, peppers, garlic and whole peppercorns.  Cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes.  Add the sherry and allow to boil.  Put in the pork, bacon, chorizo and morcilla.  Add the smoked paprika, tomato purée, thyme and bay leaves.  Stir to mix.  Strain the chickpeas and add to the pot.  Next add the 1.5 litres (2 1/2 pints) chicken stock.  Cover, bring to the boil and cook for 1 hour.  Remove the lid and cook for a further 30 minutes or until the chickpeas are cooked.  When the chickpeas are tender, remove the meats.  Take the rind off the bacon and pork, discard and cut the meat into chunks.  Peel the chorizo and morcilla and cut into slices.  Mix everything together and serve in little dishes with crusty bread.



Jersey Milk Ice-Cream with Rose Cottage berries

There is the world of difference when one uses fresh vanilla bean pods to flavour the whole milk. Scrape out the seeds so the ice-cream is flecked with vanilla. Most processed foods use fake vanilla or vanilla essence – not at all the same thing.

Makes 1 pint


This is wonderfully rich ice-cream


1/2 vanilla bean (pod)

6fl oz (175ml) whole milk

4 organic egg yolks

2 1/2oz (62g) sugar

6fl oz (175ml) rich cream, cold

Fresh berries in season from Rose Cottage


Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a heavy saucepan.  Add the bean pod and the milk.   Heat to just below the boiling point and remove from the heat.   Cover and allow 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).


Pour the cream into a large bowl.  Strain the custard into the cream.

Mix well, then chill thoroughly and freeze.


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


Serve with Rose Cottage Summer berries in season or poached quamqkuats  at the moment.

Ballymaloe Chocolates

110g (4oz) chocolate

24-30 sweet paper cases


Chocolate Ganache

110g (4oz) best quality dark chocolate

150ml (5fl oz) cream

1/4 – 1/2 tablespoon rum or orange liqueur



Crushed praline or crystallized violets or unsweetened cocoa powder.


First make the chocolate cases. Melt the chocolate until smooth in a very low oven or in a bowl over simmering water. Put 2 paper cases together and spread melted chocolate evenly over the inside of the paper case with the back of a teaspoon. Check that there are no ‘see through’ patches when you hold  them up to the light, if there are, spread a little more chocolate in that area, stand the paper cases in deep bun tins to keep the sides upright. Chill until they set hard, carefully peel the paper off the cases (it is a good idea to do a few extra cases to allow for accidents!).


Put the cream in a heavy-bottomed, preferably stainless steel saucepan and bring it almost to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. With a wooden spoon, stir the chocolate into the cream until it is completely melted. Transfer the chocolate cream to the bowl of a food mixer and allow it to cool to room temperature. Add the liqueur and whisk until it is just stiff enough to pipe.


To Assemble: Using a piping bag and a 3/8 inch star nozzle pipe a rosette of the mixture into peeled chocolate cases. Decorate each one with a little crushed praline or a crystallized violet leaf or a dusting of unsweetened cocoa powder.


Ballymaloe Chocolates with Raspberries

Put a little blob of whipped cream and some raspberry coulis into each chocolate case.  Top with a fresh raspberry and maybe a little leaf of fresh mint.

Sue’s Hazelnut Whirls

Place one toasted hazelnut in each of the chocolate cases.  Pipe a rosette of ganache on top.  Dust with unsweetened cocoa powder.





Hopefully all those chocolate Easter eggs have been nibbled away by now, if not chop up the remainder and add it to a batch of chocolate chip cookies or scones with some hazelnuts. You could even melt it down to make some chocolate sauces to drizzle over crêpes or ice cream. But in this column I am going to concentrate on eggs from happy lazy hens of the feathered kind.

Eggs are truly a super food, every cooks best friend. Unsurprisingly they are having their moment again particularly in the US. This was very evident on both the West and East coast of America. In virtually every restaurant and café, eggs were starring on the menu in some shape or form, not just for breakfast and brunch. Even food carts and food trucks were serving eggs in many guises.

In Portland, I loved the food cart in Pioneer Courthouse Square called “Fried Egg I’m in Love”, manned by a cheery chap selling a range of fried egg sandwiches, all with ‘punny’ names like Yolko Ono, Egg Zeplin and Sriracha mix-a-lot. Each sandwich has a fried egg, sometimes two…The eggs are sourced from local farms and all sandwiches are served on toasted sourdough, cooked “easy-over medium” and sprinkled with a special spice blend called Magic egg dust.
Another cart in downtown Portland invited customers to Build Your Own Omelette with delicious veggie or protein options on a croissant or bagel incorporating local seasonal ingredients and fresh herbs.


Other trucks did a range of poached or scrambled egg dishes and I loved the sound of  Eggs Travaganza, at the corner of 52nd Street and Park in Midtown, New York,  long queues for Mexican egg wraps, burritos, egg tacos….

I also heard good things about the Egg Tosti (version of egg and cheese toast) from Steel Cart. Last week I mentioned Daily Provisions on East 19th Street, Lower Manhattan my favourite new breakfast spot. There’s a constant queue for their breakfast gougères and breakfast egg sandwiches served on a brioche bun. Egg toasts were served on sourdough with a variety of toppings, sprezzatura and jam, English muffin with ricotta and smoked salmon, bacon, egg, spinach and hot sauce…..lots of hot sauce everywhere….


Avocado Toast with Labneh, Chorizo Crumbs and a Poached Egg on the side


Serves 1


1 slice of sourdough bread

extra virgin olive oil

rocket leaves

½ ripe avocado



Chorizo Crumbs:

4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

125g chorizo, peeled and cut into 5mm dice

100g coarse breadcrumbs


1 tablespoon labneh

3 cucumber strips or diagonal chunks, seasoned with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and sugar (makes more than needed but keep in a box)

a few drops of best quality white wine vinegar

1 fresh free range organic egg


Segment of lemon or lime


First make the chorizo crumbs: Put the oil into a cool pan, add the diced chorizo.  Toss on a low heat until the oil starts to run and the chorizo begins to crisp.  Careful it’s easy to burn the chorizo, drain through a metal sieve, save the oil and return to the pan.


Increase the heat, add coarse breadcrumbs and toss in the chorizo oil until crisp and golden.  Drain and add to the chorizo.


Chorizo crumbs are a brilliant resource, keep them in a covered box in the fridge. Great sprinkled over cauliflower or mac and cheese, soup…


Season the cucumber strips or diagonal chunks of cucumber with a few drops of vinegar, salt, freshly ground black pepper and sugar.


Pan grill or toast the sourdough, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Lay a few rocket leaves on a plate and pop the slice of sourdough on top.


Scoop out the avocado from the skin and lay on top of the sourdough cut side upwards. Add a dollop of labneh to the plate and fill the cavity with a little labneh and sprinkle lots of warm chorizo crumbs over the avocado  and add a poached egg and some cucumber to the plate. Sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt and add a segment of lime or lemon


Serve ASAP



Crispy Potatoes, Fried Eggs and Spring Onions



An irresistible but comforting brunch. The crispy capers add a delicious zing but are optional.


Serves 1

2-3 cooked potatoes, depending on size

extra virgin olive oil

2 organic free range eggs

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2-3 spring onions

5-7 capers, fried until crisp


Peel the cooked potatoes and cut into ¾ inch slices. Heat a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil or bacon fat in a frying pan over a high heat. Add the potatoes, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook until crisp and golden on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper and transfer onto a hot serving plate. Keep hot.


Heat some more olive oil in a clean pan. Add the capers and cook until crisp, 1-2 minutes. Drain on kitchen paper. Fry the eggs, sunny side up (or easy over, as you please).


Lay on top of the fried potatoes, side by side.


Sprinkle with lots of green spring onion tops, sliced at an angle.


Top with a few crispy capers; add a few flakes of sea salt and some freshly cracked pepper.


Serve ASAP

Egg and  Sausage, Melted Gouda and Hot Sauce in a Brioche Bun

A perfect breakfast or brunch inspired by Daily Provisions on East 19th Street in New York



Serves 8


8 brioche buns with poppy seeds sprinkled on top

8 sausage patties, see below,

8 organic eggs, (1 egg omelette per bun)


flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


100g to 175g (4oz-6 oz) Gouda, grated


Hot tomato and chili sauce, see below or use your favourite brand…



Homemade Sausage Patties:


(Makes 8 large patties)


225g (1/2 lb) good, fat streaky pork (rindless)

1 tablespoon mixed fresh herbs (e.g. parsley, thyme, chives, marjoram and a little rosemary)

30g (1 1/4oz) soft white breadcrumbs

1 small garlic clove

1 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper

1 small  organic egg (optional – helps to bind – reduce breadcrumbs to 50g/2oz if omitting egg)

dash of oil for frying



First make the sausage patties:

Mince the pork at the first or second setting, depending on the texture you like. Chop the herbs finely and mix through the breadcrumbs. Crush the garlic to a paste with a little salt. Whisk the egg, and then mix into the other ingredients thoroughly. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Fry off a little knob of the mixture to check the seasoning. Correct if necessary. Divide in 8 and flatten into patties. Keep covered and chilled.


To serve, split the brioche bun in half but keep attached at one side.


Fry the pork patty in a hot pan in a little extra olive oil while you quickly make a 1 egg omelette.


Heat a small frying pan over a high heat. Whisk the egg, add a little dash of milk,  flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Add a little clarified butter to the pan, when sizzling add the egg, tilt the pan and quickly make an omelette and fold.

Sprinkle a layer of grated cheese onto the base of the bun and pop under a grill. When the cheese has melted top with the pork patty and the omelette. Drizzle generously with the hot sauce, fold over the brioche and serve ASAP on a square of parchment.



Tomato and Chilli Sauce


30g (1oz) green chillies, deseeded and chopped, or 2-3 depending on size

1 red pepper, deseeded and cut in 3 inch (2cm) dice.

2 x 400g (14oz) tin of chopped tomatoes

1 clove of garlic , crushed

1 dessertspoon castor sugar

1 dessertspoon soft brown sugar

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablepsoons water


First make the sauce.  Put the chillies, pepper, tomatoes and garlic into a stainless steel saucepan with the sugar, vinegar and water.  Season and simmer for 10 minutes until reduced by half.







Omelette Arnold Bennett

Serves 1-2 as a main course


Omelette Arnold Bennett was created in the 1920s by the chefs at the Savoy Hotel to commemorate author and playwright Bennett writing his novel, Imperial Palace, whilst staying at the Savoy this dish should be a true British classic.

This delicious omelette would also be very good made with smoked salmon or smoked mackerel.


50-75g (2-3oz) smoked haddock

a little milk

25g (1oz) butter

150ml (5fl oz) cream

3 eggs

salt and freshly ground pepper

2-3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated



parsley, freshly chopped


25.5cm (10 inch) omelette pan, preferably non-stick


Put the smoked haddock into a small saucepan.  Cover with milk and simmer gently until it is cooked enough to separate into flakes (about 10 minutes).  Drain.  Toss the haddock over a moderate heat with half the butter and 2 tablespoons of the cream and keep aside.  Separate the eggs, beat the yolks with a tablespoon of the cream and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Whip the egg whites stiffly.  Fold into the yolks with the haddock and add half the grated Parmesan cheese.

Melt the remaining butter in the omelette pan.  Pour the mixture in gently and cook over a medium heat until the base of the omelette is golden.  Spoon the remaining cream over the top and sprinkle with the rest of the finely grated Parmesan. Pop under a hot grill for a minute or so until golden and bubbly on top.  Serve in the pan or slide on to a hot dish, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately accompanied by a good green salad.






New York

Rory O’Connell and I were over in the US for St Patricks Day doing our bit to spread the word about the exciting renaissance on the Irish food scene and the many good things that are happening over here. I was also promoting my latest book,  Grow, Cook, Nourish and Rory was in big demand because his TV programme Eat Well, Cook Well is about to be shown on PBS sponsored by Kerrygold. I was delighted to see Irish butter selling not just in every good supermarket and grocery but actually named on many menus, being served alongside the best sourdough breads from the She Wolf Bakery in Brooklyn.

The New York food scene continues to get more and more exciting. My favourite new breakfast spot is Daily Provisions on East 19th Street between Park Avenue and Irving. It is owned by Danny Meyer of Shake Shack and Union Square Café fame and is next door to the latter. Loved the crisp gougère filled with flavoured scrambled eggs. The Green Egg version with spinach, Pepperjack cheese and fresh herbs was super delicious as was the cremini mushroom and Gruyère one. I ate there three mornings in a row to taste as many of their dishes as possible and bought two of their flaky, buttery Kouign-Amann for a picnic on the plane.

Ignacio Mattos’s, Estela has been a favourite of mine for several years but this time I tried one of his new places, Café Altro Paradiso on Spring Street between 6th Avenue and Varick Street close to Houston Hall where FarePlate NY was showcasing many Irish food and drink products. Flahavans Oatmeal were there as were Mash Direct and Irish Peat Wine, the latter was a new find for me.

I loved the small plates in Café Altro Paradiso, a modern take on Italian food. We were blown away by the shaved fennel salad with Castelvetrano green olives and Provolone, the very best and freshest fennel salad any of us had ever tasted. I was longing for the exact recipes.

Guess what, I found it on the Bon Appetit website on the internet so there you are.

We also shared a Gloucester Old Spot pork chop with lots of sweet and juicy fat, caramelised fennel and butterbeans. The free range pork came from The Flying Pigs Farm on the shores of the Battenkill River in Washington County.

They also have a stall in the Union Square Farmers Market, another ‘can’t miss’ on Saturdays in New York but there is a smaller version on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The market has fantastic produce from dedicated organic farmers and artisan producers from Upstate New York and the Hudson Valley. Cervos on Canal Street on the Lower East Side takes its inspiration from coastal Spain and Portugal serving seafood centric small plates and pasture raised meats. I don’t think they take bookings but pop in and sit at the bar and have the extra bonus of watching the bartenders mixing cocktails and the young chefs doing their magic with beautiful produce and spanking fresh fish and shellfish. Stand out dishes for me were the fried green beans with anchovy dressing, the watercress salad with fresh horseradish and yet another gorgeous fennel salad with mussels, beans and pistachios.  The vanilla pudding with oranges and slivered almonds is now an iconic dessert.

Via Carota is another name for your list but most exciting of all was King on the corner of King Street owned by the Ballymaloe Cookery School alumni Clare de Boer and Jess Shadbolt whose delicious dishes are wooing New York diners. We ate there with David Tanis and Madhur Jaffrey and several other well known foodies and had one memorable dish after another. A castle of feather light carta musica drizzled with rosemary olive oil, panisse with crispy sage leaves and a huge roast halibut with rosemary and lemon, enough to feed the entire table served with white beans drizzled with the finest extra virgin olive oil from Cappezana.

Next day, the word came through that Claire de Boer had been selected as a finalist in the 2018 James Beard awards as Rising Star Chef of the Year, Rory and I couldn’t have been prouder of our student and Ignacio Mattos was also shortlisted for Best New York Chef, as was Jody Williams of I Sodi and Via Carota, two more of my favourite haunts. Alta, an all day Mexican, owned by Enrique Olvera is also making waves but even though it is being lauded to the rooftops it didn’t push my buttons as much as the others did, nonetheless I loved the simple quesadillas with tomatillo salsa. There is so much choice in New York, and so much on my list that I couldn’t make it to, so if you are over there do check out:

  • Flora Bar in King County
  • Imperial for Chinese soup with dumplings.
  • St Anselm for steak
  • Otis – new American food
  • Eataly – several restaurants and superb produce, still excellent.

That list, ought to keep even the most ardent foodie blissed out and then there are all the new butcher shops, groceries and artisan bakers. I will have to save Brooklyn for another day…..

 Breakfast Gougère with mushrooms and Pepper Jack Cheese

Pepper Jack is a derivative of Monterey Jack the original “American” cheese invented by Mexican Franciscan friars of Monterey, California. As the name suggests, the cheese is flavoured with sweet peppers, rosemary, habanero chillies and garlic and spicy jalapenos for an extra kick.

Daily Provisions also did a brilliant green Gougère with spinach and Pepperjack cheese scrambled egg.

serves 6


Choux pastry:

150g (5oz) strong flour (Baker’s flour)

225ml (8fl oz) water

pinch of salt

100g (3 1/2 oz) butter, cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) cubes

3-5 eggs depending on their size (free range if possible)


50g (2oz) Gruyère cheese, grated and some extra for sprinkling.


For the scrambled eggs:

4 organic eggs

2 tablespoons cream or full-cream milk

a knob of butter

flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper


50g (2oz) Pepperjack cheese, grated (or grated cheddar with a pinch of chilli flakes and ½ a teaspoon of fresh rosemary or thyme.

225g (8 oz) mushrooms, diced.



First make the choux pastry.


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


Next make the choux pastry. Sieve the flour with the salt on to a piece of greaseproof paper.  Heat the water and butter in a saucepan until the butter is melted, then bring to a rolling boil and take from the heat. Prolonged boiling evaporates the water and changes the proportions of the dough. As soon as the pan is taken from the heat add all the flour at once and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon for a few seconds until the mixture is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the saucepan to form a ball. Put the saucepan back on to a low heat and stir for 30 seconds – 1 minute or until the mixture starts to fur the bottom of the saucepan. Cool for a few seconds.


Set aside one egg, break it and whisk it in a bowl.  Add the remaining eggs into the dough, one by one with a wooden spoon, beating thoroughly after each addition.  Make sure the dough comes back to the same texture each time before you add another egg. When it will no longer form a ball in the centre of the saucepan, add the beaten egg little by little, using just enough to make a mixture that is very shiny and drops rather reluctantly from the spoon in a sheet. Stir in the grated cheese. You may not need all of the reserved egg – if too much is added the dough cannot be shaped. (Choux pastry dough should just hold its shape when it’s piped).


Put the dough into a pastry bag with a 3/4 inch (2 cm) plain nozzle. Pipe 2 1/2 inch (6.5cm) rounds well apart on to a wet baking sheet. Brush each one carefully with egg wash and sprinkle with grated cheese.


Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 200°C/400°F/regulo 6. After 25 minutes pierce the side of each with a skewer to let out the steam and continue to cook until crisp, brown and irresistible.


Gougéres are best eaten warm, but they can be baked ahead and popped into the oven to warm through before serving. Gougére or choux pastry puffs up better if used immediately but it can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours before baking. Rub the surface with butter while the dough is still warm so it doesn’t form a skin. We also get very good results by freezing the uncooked choux puffs and baking from frozen next day.



To serve:

Heat some extra virgin olive oil in a pan. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook on a low heat.


Break the eggs into a bowl, add the cream or milk and season with salt and ground black pepper. Whisk well 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. Add the mushrooms and grated pepperjack cheese. Taste and correct the seasoning.

Split the gougére and fill with scramble egg mixture, alternatively fill the soft warm scrambled egg into a piping bag with a large plain nozzle and pipe into the side of each gougére.

Serve ASAP on a square of greaseproof paper on a warm plate.



Shaved Fennel Salad with Green Olives and Provolone

from Café Altro Paradiso

The freshest and most delicious fennel salad.

Serves 6


2 fennel bulbs, tough outer leaves discarded, bulbs, stems and fronds separated

200g (7oz) Castelvetrano green olives


50g (2fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons Forum Chardonnay vinegar or best white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest from an organic orange

pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper

1 organic lemon

75g (3 oz) thinly shaved aged Provolone cheese

flaky sea salt



Trim the fennel bulbs, save the fronds.


Halve fennel bulbs lengthwise. Using a mandoline, shave fennel crosswise (you can use a knife, but the slices ought to be no thicker than â…›”).


Transfer fennel to a large bowl.


Coarsely chop fennel fronds (you want about â…“ cup) and add to bowl.


Crush olives with a flat-bottomed cup or side of a chef’s knife and remove the stones.

Coarsely chop olives (you want big, chunky pieces). Add olives, oil, vinegar, orange zest, and red pepper to bowl; season with kosher salt and black pepper, then toss to coat.



Zest one-quarter of lemon over. Halve lemon and squeeze in juice from both halves; season with flaky salt and toss to coat. Taste and adjust with more lemon juice, if needed.


Divide olive mixture among plates. Top with cheese to just cover olives. Arrange shaved fennel over so olive mixture is covered, then season with flaky sea salt and serve immediately.


Watercress Salad with Fresh Horseradish


I love the pepperiness of wild watercress but fresh farm  watercress would also be delicious here


Serves 4


4 handfuls of watercress


3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon  Chardonnay white wine vinegar

salt and freshly ground black pepper



Wash and dry the watercress sprigs, keep cool.

Meanwhile whisk the ingredients together for the dressing. Season and dip a sprig of watercress to check the balance.


To serve: sprinkle a little dressing over the watercress and toss, you’ll need just enough to make the leaves glisten.

Pop a serving into four deep bowls. Grate some fresh horseradish over the top. Serve


Swiss Chard Horta with Mani Olive Oil Lemon and Sea Salt

 Serves 4-6


1 lb Swiss chard

4 tablespoons Greek extra olive oil

2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice

flaky sea salt and grated black pepper


Prepare and slice the chard in thin pieces and cook until just tender, drain well. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice


Season with salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper. Taste and serve.


Citrus Salad with Pistachio, Dates, Pecorino di Fossa

A gorgeous fresh tasting salad.

Serves 4


1 pink or ruby grapefruit

1 blood orange

1 small red onion

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

6 Medjool dates, stoned

1 teaspoon raw honey

50 g (2 oz) pistachio nuts

4 to 8 leaves of radicchio


50g (2 oz) Pecorino di Fossa (optional)

flaky sea salt

freshly ground black pepper


Slice the red onion very thinly on a mandolin, rinse under cold water and drain well.


Remove all the skin and pith from the grapefruit and the blood oranges. Cut the blood oranges into thin rounds, you’ll need 12slices. Segment the grapefruit and put into a bowl.

Add the thinly sliced red onion, toss gently and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and honey.  Season with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, taste….

Put three rounds of blood orange on each plate, plus three segments or half segments or grapefruit depending on size, scatter with a few pieces of red onion. Stone the dates and cut into three or four crosswise pieces. Add a couple of pieces to each plate and a few radicchio leaves.

Scatter some coarsely chopped pistachio nuts over the top, add a few shavings of pecorino if using and serve ASAP



Vanilla Cream with Blood Orange and Toasted Almonds


Serves 8-10


425ml (15fl oz/scant 2 cups) natural yoghurt

225ml (8fl oz/1 cup) milk

200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) cream

125g (4 1/2oz/generous 1/2 cup) castor sugar

2 vanilla pods,

2 teaspoons powdered gelatine


4-5 blood oranges or mandarins

110g (4oz) whole unskinned almonds



fresh mint leaves


Put the milk, cream and vanilla pods into a stainless steel saucepan, stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch.  Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes.

Remove the vanilla pods, split and add the seeds to the liquid.


Put 3 tablespoons (3 American tablespoons + 3 teaspoons) of cold water into a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatine over the water, allow to ‘sponge’ for a few minutes.  Put the bowl into a saucepan of simmering water until the gelatine has melted and is completely clear.  Add a little of the infused milk mixture, stir well and then mix this into the rest.  Whisk the yoghurt lightly until smooth and creamy, stir into the remainder of the mixture.


Pour into a cold bowl and allow to set softly for several hours, preferably overnight.  Cover and refrigerate.


Toast the almonds in a moderate oven (160°C/315°F/Gas Mark 3) for 15-20 minutes stirring regularly.  Cook and slice coarsely.


Remove the peel and the pith from all of the blood oranges or mandarins.  Slice 2 or 3 into thin slices.  Segment the remainder and mix in a bowl, cover and keep refrigerated until needed.


To serve

Spoon a couple of large tablespoons of the wobbly cream into a wide shallow bowl.  Add a few segments and some slices of orange.  Scatter with toasted nuts and fresh mint leaves.


There’s lots of wild garlic in the woods right now, so bring a bag or basket on your next walk and gather enough to make wild garlic soup, wild garlic pesto, wild garlic frittata……


 Just back from a flying visit to California, a mini book tour with a few days in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Ojai (pronounced O hi)– a beautiful valley, north of Los Angeles, carpeted with orange and avocado groves and surrounded by the Topatopa Mountains,. Guess what I bought as a  present  oranges and avocados  from LA Central Market to my friends in Ojai. Talk about bringing “coals to Newcastle”.

This is spectacular, dramatic countryside, where last December, forests fires burnt for almost a month. Many were evacuated from their homes and later in January, a deluge caused mud slides to take everything in its path, including several peoples’ houses – lives were lost.

In Los Angeles, I was invited to appear on the Home and Family Channel to talk about my latest book, Grow, Cook, Nourish. I cooked one of my favourite easy peasy recipes, Tortillitas with Aioli, the crew absolutely loved them. I took the opportunity to spend a few days in LA, not nearly long enough.  One could easily spend two weeks and eat beautiful creative seasonal food for breakfast lunch and dinner. I had difficult choices to make with just four meal slots, I came straight from the airport at 9pm to meet some Ballymaloe Cookery School alumni at a restaurant called The Tasting Kitchen in Venice, a hip and happening area in LA. We shared 10 or 12 little plates of delicious, very Californian food; we loved the small little pillows of deep fried bread dough called gnocco fritto served with the San Daniele ham. Chef-owner Casey Lane is a name to watch.

I stayed in a hip boutique hotel called Mama’s Shelter, close to the Universal Studios, but you might want to try Chateau Marsan or ??

For breakfast I just wanted a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, “not possible”, they only had the scary orange “Freshly squeezed” juice that gets delivered every day. On the counter there were several bowls of oranges piled high so I asked if they could halve a few so I could squeeze them myself. “Afraid not, they’re plastic” – only in California which grows thousands of acres of beautiful citrus….

No Farmers Markets on while I was in town but I greatly enjoyed nosing around Grand Central Market which has a new lease of life in the last few years since 1917.

Eggslut, great name serves breakfast all day on the Broadway side of the Market to hundreds of people daily. Eggs in many ? their signature dish, The Slut, a coddled egg on top of smooth potato purée, cooked in a glass jar topped with gray salt and chives, served with slices of baguette is comfort food at its best.

Bacon, Egg & Cheese Sandwich, made with hardwood smoked bacon, an over-medium egg, cheddar cheese and chipotle ketchup, served in a warm brioche bun is another  winner. And there’s much more. Check out Clark Street Bakery, Belcampo Builder, Sari Sari rice bowls, G & B Coffee, Tewasart Tacos – it’s a brilliant spot for the adventurous food lovers.

But what’s most interesting to me when I visit the US is the craving there is to find real food and the length people have to go to source it.

There’s a huge nutritional confusion and desperation among many, but of course not all, to find healthy wholesome food they can trust. Tons of money is invested in promoting super foods, free-from foods and supplements. The vegan – vegetarian and plant food movement is huge and growing and there are now some fabulously good restaurants and cafés serving exclusively vegan food, check out  ?? in LA.

Some of the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten have been in the US, particularly California and this time was no exception.

At Chez Panisse in Berkley outside San Francisco Alice Waters made me a nettle pizza form the fresh new season’s growth.

At Boulette’s Larder beside the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco another memorable Turkish inspired pizza with minced lamb topping drizzled with yoghurt and tahini and scattered with feta, lots of flat parsley sprigs and a sprinkling of sumac.


Down in Los Angeles I made a pilgrimage to Nancy Silverston’s new Pizzeria Mozza and enjoyed a bubbly Pizza Bianco with Fontina mozzarella, sottocenere and sage  leaves from a long list of temptations  with  and so wished I had space for the tomato and zucchini blossom pizza.

Dessert was Mayer lemon gelato pit with champagne vinegar sauce This recipe for  ? was inspired but little pillows of deep fried dough served with  paper thin slivers of San Danielle ham at the Tasting Room in Venice LA.

This little combination of modern industrial coddled egg and potato puree was inspired by a visit to Egg Slut, the egg-centric food stand in Grand Central Market in LA. This irresistible nursery food  reminds me of my childhood and certainly seems to hit the spot for a whole new generation also to judge by the length of the queues

Egg Slut

This little combination of modern industrial coddled egg and potato puree was inspired by a visit to Egg Slut, the egg-centric food stand in Grand Central Market in LA. This irresistible nursery food  reminds me of my childhood and certainly seems to hit the spot for a whole new generation also to judge by the length of the queues

Serves 4

fluffy potato puree
4 beautiful organic  free range eggs (large)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

finely chopped chives

4-8 slices of toasted focaccia or sourdough bread

4 glass jars (size ?)

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil; put 2 heaped tablespoons of well-seasoned buttery potato puree in the base of each jar. Crack an egg into each jar.

Cover with the screw top lid. Bring back to the boil for 10-15 minutes

Remove the lids. Sprinkle with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and a few finely chopped chives. Serve with a teaspoon and some toasted focaccia, sourdough or baguette to scoop up the little feast.

Mix the egg and potato together and slather on toast.


Tortillitas à la Patata

The crew of the Home and Family programme loved these little potato fritters which Sam and Jeannie Chesterton of Finca Buenvino in Andalucia, introduced me to. I keep wondering why it never occurred to me before, they are so easy to make and completely addictive – kids also love them and they make perfect little bites to nibble with a drink, preferably a glass of fino or manzanilla.


Makes 26


4 eggs, free range and organic

225g cooked potatoes in 5mm dice

3 tablespoons finely chopped mixed fresh parsley and chives

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper


Aioli (Garlic Mayonnaise)


2 egg yolks, preferably free range

1-4 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 teaspoon salt

pinch of English mustard or 1/4 teaspoon French mustard

1 dessertspoon white wine vinegar

225ml oil (sunflower, arachide or olive oil or a mixture) – We use 175ml arachide oil and 50ml olive oil, alternatively use 7/1

2 teaspoons of freshly chopped parsley (optional)


Extra virgin olive oil for frying, you will need about 5mm in the frying pan.


Maldon Sea salt for sprinkling.



Whisk the eggs in a bowl, add the potato dice, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, add the freshly chopped herbs.


Heat about 5mm extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan on a high heat, cook a teaspoonful of mixture and taste for seasoning.

Correct if necessary.

Continue to cook the mini tortillas as needed, using a scant dessertspoon of the mixture. Allow to cook on one side for about seconds, flip over and continue to cook on the other side for a similar length of time, or until slightly golden.

Drain on kitchen paper.  Sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt.

Serve hot, or at room temperature with a blob of Aioli.


To make the Aioli

Put the egg yolks into a bowl with the mustard, garlic salt and the white wine vinegar (keep the whites to make meringues). Put the oil into a measure. Take a whisk in one hand and the oil in the other and drip the oil onto the egg yolks, drop by drop whisking at the same time. Within a minute you will notice that the mixture is beginning to thicken. When this happens you can add the oil a little faster, but don’t get too cheeky or it will suddenly curdle because the egg yolks can only absorb the oil at a certain pace. Add the chopped parsley. Taste and add a little more seasoning and vinegar if necessary.


If the aioli curdles it will suddenly become quite thin, and if left sitting the oil will start to float to the top of the sauce. If this happens you can quite easily rectify the situation by putting another egg yolk or 1-2 tablespoons  of boiling water into a clean bowl, then whisk in the curdled aioli, a half teaspoon at a time until it emulsifies again.

Nettle and Ricotta Pizza


At Chez Panisse in Berkley in California, Alice Waters incorporates local wild foods into her menu – I enjoyed this delicious pizza straight from the wood-burning oven on a recent trip.


Makes 1


75g (3ozs) pizza dough

fresh young nettles about 200g (7ozs)

1 clove garlic slivered or finely chopped

35g (1½ oz) fresh Mozzarella

Maldon sea salt and freshly ground pepper

extra virgin olive oil

25g (1oz) Ricotta or Ardsallagh goat cheese


Preheat the oven to 475F/250C/gas 9.


Preheat a heavy baking sheet in the oven.


Stretch or roll the dough into a thin round.   Sprinkle a little cornmeal onto a paddle.   Lay the pizza on top.  Brush with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with chopped garlic and roughly grated mozzarella.   Top with a mound of young nettles.  Mist generously with water, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and top with a few blobs of ricotta or Ardsallagh goat cheese.


Cook for 7-8 minutes depending on the intensity of the heat.


Remove from the oven, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately with a few flakes of Maldon sea salt sprinkled over the top.



Nancy Silverston’s Mozza Lemon Gelato with crystallised lemon and champagne vinegar sauce

Serves 8


75g (3 oz) digestive biscuits, crushed

45g (1½ oz) butter



Lemon Gelato

1 free range egg

250ml (9fl oz) milk

110g (4oz) castor sugar

zest and juice of 1 good lemon


crystallised lemon strips


Tin – loose bottomed tin 8 x 3 inch (20.5 x 7.5cm)


Melt the butter and stir in the crushed biscuits, press into the mould in an even layer. Refrigerate while you make the filling.


To make the ice cream, separate the egg, whisk the yolk with the milk and keep the white aside. Gradually mix in the sugar. Carefully grate the zest from the lemon on the finest part of a stainless steel grater. Squeeze the juice from the lemon and add with the zest to the liquid. Whisk the egg white until quite stiff and fold into the other ingredients. Freeze in a sorbetiere according to the manufacturer’s instructions or put in a freezer in a covered plastic container.


When the mixture starts to freeze, remove from the freezer and whisk again, or break up in a food processor. Then put it back in the freezer until it is frozen but still slushy. Pour into the crust, cover and freeze.

To serve remove form the freezer. Cut into pie shaped pieces. Serve on a chilled plate. Put a dollop of softly whipped cream on top. Add some crystallised lemon and drizzle with some champagne vinegar syrup. Enjoy.


Crystallized Lemon Peel

2 lemons

450ml (16fl oz) cold water

sugar syrup

champagne vinegar


Peel 2 lemons very thinly with a swivel top peeler, be careful not to include the white pith.  Put into a saucepan with the cold water and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain, refresh in cold water, cover with fresh water and repeat the process


Put the strips into a saucepan with the syrup made with 350g (12oz) sugar and 600ml (1 pint) water. Cook gently until the lemon julienne looks translucent or opaque.  Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to cool on parchment paper or a cake rack. Allow to dry in a cool airy place.

Add two tablespoons of vinegar to the hot syrup, bring to the boil for two minutes. Taste, it should be bitter/sweet.




A Food lover’s weekend in London


London is right up there with New York and San Francisco, vying for the title of top food capital in the entire world. Over a weekend in London you can eat your way through tasty bites from anywhere, from Ethiopia to Georgia, from inexpensive but super cool street food to pop-up  dinners, super chic cafés to three star Michelin restaurants and everything in between.

Dedicated foodies might want to fit in a couple of Farmers’ Markets to watch what the millennials are putting in their baskets and reusable shopping bags.

On a recent research trip, I visited Borough Market with its 100 plus stalls, superb cheeses, spices and heritage meats. Don’t miss the Ginger Pig, 100 day old chickens and ducks, bursting with flavour, Cannon and Cannon dry cured meat, fat rashers with rind still on, well-aged beef. Brindisa Shop has the best Spanish products and hand sliced Serrano, pata negra, jamon…. Round the corner there is Brindisa Café, a superb place for breakfast. Don’t miss the melting Monte Enebro goat milk cheese with chestnut honey and crispy fried eggs with olive oil fried chips and chorizo.

Round the corner one of our past students Ray O’Connor is the head chef at Padella, there’s always a queue. At lunch time, it moves quite fast – a matter of ten to fifteen minutes but if you want to get a table in the evening, call early to put your name on the list otherwise you could be looking at a two and a half hour wait. However the handmade pasta, gnocchi and carpaccio of Dexter beef with Fiorano olive oil is totally worth the wait.

Black Axe Mangal is also worth the long schlep out to Canonbury Road, great playlist, small plates on bright oil cloth covered tables.

Don’t miss their flat breads topped with lamb offal or squid ink and smoked cod roe.  I had the charred Hispi cabbage with Katsuobushi butter, possibly the best dish I have eaten this year. Leave space for the Jameson and honey ice cream….

I love these small restaurants run by feisty passionate young people on a mission to serve super delicious food at reasonable prices, not a starched chef’s toque in sight. No 40 Maltby Street is another mecca of real food and natural wines, small super tasty plates together superbly with gorgeously fresh ingredients, a devilled egg with tiny pink shrimps, a slice of warm juicy glazed ham with a dollop of good mustard, a thick slice of natural sourdough with homemade butter. There were other good things to pair with a glass of Jacot from Slovenian Klinkez but the treacle tart was a triumph. Try to choosing between that and the rhubarb jelly with rosewater cream was agony. Andrew generously sweetly shared the recipe for the Treacle Tart which contains treacle as well as the usual golden syrup.


Duck Soup in Soho and Raw Duck in Hackney both of which have pride of place on my London list, have a new sister restaurant  called Little Duck-The Picklery  in Hackney, a super chic space with a huge terrazzo table in the centre. Chefs and cooks lovingly prepping food at one side, more small plates and as the name suggests, lots of good pickles and an unbearable choice of little dishes. I particularly enjoyed a radicchio, puntarelle, and walnut salad fresh tasting bitter leaves with chopped walnuts added to the dressing. The smoked mackerel with pickled rhubarb and lovage looked so beautiful and tasted just as good but the buckwheat custard with poached quince and pear scattered with crumble really blew me away. Here again a Ballymaloe Cookery School student, Hannah Lederer was part of the creative team. Definitely one for your London list.


People look forward all week to their coffee but at the Monmouth coffee shop, there will be a long but convivial queue from early morning. You can bond with other single estate coffee aficionados while you wait. If  someone can keep your place, you can nip in to Neal’s Yard Dairy next door for some superb Irish  and British cheeses or pick up a sweet treat at Baker and Spice on the other side. The Broadway Market in Hackney and the Netil market round the corner may just be the best Farmers Markets in London. This is where the Bao and Violet Cake  stalls started. Both are now in “bricks and mortar” but with a prestigious and well deserved following –and there’s so much more….. You are close to the Hackney City Farm and James Ramsden’s Pidgin and Oklava all worth noting.

For a very sophisticated treat in a truly beautiful room, Spring in Somerset House – is hard to beat, Skye Gyngell’s food exudes freshness, looks irresistible on the plate and tastes delicious.  Finally if you have even one more meal slot check out Westerns Laundry in Highbury East. Trot along to 26 Grains in Seven Dials to taste Alex Hely-Hutchinson savour and sweet porridge bowls. She’s another one of our graduates that make me so proud



Monte Enebro cheese with walnuts from Brindisa

A simple but irresistible starter that I order every time I go to Brindisa Covent Garden


Serves 2 as a starter


2 slices of Monte Enebro goats cheese, about 70g and 1.5cm thick

2 sliced of grilled bread

small handful raisins

small handful walnuts

olive oil


Muscatel vinegar

2 sliced of grilled bread


Pre heat the grill to medium

Mix a small handful of raisins with walnuts, olive oil,  honey and vinegar.


Place a slice of cheese on each of the two slices of grilled bread and put under the grill for about 3 minutes, until the cheese begins to bubble and colour. Remove and top with the walnuts and raisins in their dressing. Serve ASAP



Duck Soup Soho’s Mackerel under oil, pickled rhubarb & lovage

serves 4


For the mackerel

2 400g  mackerel, filleted

120g coarse sea salt

50g soft brown sugar

1 cloves of garlic thinly sliced

200ml olive oil


Mix together the salt and sugar and rub into the mackerel in a gastro. Press cling film over the fish and allow to cure for 1.5 hours in the fridge.

Rinse well and pat dry. If time, allow to air dry uncovered in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Drizzle the fillets with a little olive oil and pan fry on both sides until coloured and cooked through.

In a tray just large enough for the mackerel fillets add the sliced garlic and olive oil and then add the mackerel fillets while still warm

Allow to marinade for a few hours if possible


For the rhubarb

this will make more than you need but will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks and you can serve with cheese or goes very well with ice cream

500g Yorkshire forced rhubarb

250g caster sugar

250ml cider vinegar

100ml water

4 green cardamom lightly crushed

1 star anise

Pinch of red chilli flakes


Put the sugar, vinegar, water and spices in a pan together and bring to a gentle simmer, then cook for about 5 minutes.


Meanwhile cut the rhubarb into 1inch pieces. When the pickling liquor has cooked for 5 minutes, in batches drop the rhubarb in the pan and cook for 30-45 seconds until you see the rhubarb change to a much paler colour, remove straight away with a slotted spoon and allow to cool flat on a baking tray. Repeat this process till all the rhubarb is cooked.


When it all cooked allow the liquor to cool and then poor over the rhubarb, if you pour it over while it is still hot you will over cook the rhubarb and it will go mushy.


To plate the dish gently break up the mackerel fillets with the skin on into large chunk into a large mixing bowl and add some of the oil and a pinch of sea salt

Spoon in the rhubarb allow 2tbl per person and add some of the pickling liquir

Tear in a good handful of lovage and add a squeeze of lemon juice

Gently mix everything together and the dived between 4 plates

Finish with a little pinch of red pepper flakes



Devilled Eggs with Little Shrimps


Serves 8



4 free-range eggs

3-4 tablespoons homemade Mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped chives

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


24-40 cooked shrimp



Watercress or chervil


For the devilled eggs. Hard boil the eggs for 10 minutes in boiling water, drain and put immediately into a bowl of cold water. (Eggs with a black ring around the yolk have been overcooked). When cold, shell, slice in half lengthways and sieve the yolks, mix the sieved yolk with mayonnaise, add chopped chives and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon or pipe some filling into each half

Serve two per person with 3 to 5 shrimps, depending on size. Garnish with sprigs of watercress or chervil.


Skye Gyngell’s Guinea Fowl with Farro and Parsley Cream

I cooked this dish for a dinner at the Ballymaloe Literary Festival a couple of years ago, on Darina Allen’s request, and it was well received. Full of friends from all over the world, it was a lovely evening and holds a special place in my memory, so I have a soft spot for this dish.


Serves 4

4 guinea fowl supremes

3 carrots, peeled

2 inner celery stalks (the paler stalks around the heart)

2 tablespoons olive oil

140g farro (or spelt), well rinsed

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

30g unsalted butter

2 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the parsley cream

A large bunch of flat-leaf parsley

200ml double cream

A few gratings of fresh nutmeg



Have the guinea fowl supremes ready to cook. Cut the carrots and celery into chunky slices on the diagonal. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan, add the carrots and celery and cook gently, without browning, for 5 minutes. Now add the farro and pour in enough water to just cover. Cook for 20 minutes or until the farro and vegetables are just tender to the bite.

Meanwhile, for the parsley cream, strip the leaves from the parsley. Rinse the stalks and place in a small pan. Pour over the cream and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Turn off the heat, leave to infuse for 15 minutes, then strain.

Plunge the parsley leaves into a small pan of boiling water, drain immediately and refresh under cold water. Chop the blanched parsley very finely and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas 7. Season the guinea fowl well with salt and pepper. Place a non-stick ovenproof pan over a high heat and add the remaining olive oil. When very hot, add the supremes, skin side down, and cook, without moving, for 5 minutes until the skin is golden brown and quite crisp. Transfer to the middle of the oven and cook for 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the wine vinegar, butter and chopped parsley to the farro and vegetables, season well and warm through. Warm the parsley cream over a low heat and add the nutmeg, blanched parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, divide the vegetables and farro between warm plates. Arrange the guinea fowl alongside the vegetables and spoon the parsley cream over the top. Serve at once.

 ‘Spring: The Cookbook’ by Skye Gyngell published by Quadrille (Images by Andy Sewell).


40 Maltby Street Treacle Tart

Quite simply the best treacle tart I ever tasted. Steve Williams generously shared the recipe with us.

Serves 16 to 20


For the pastry

200g (7oz) white flour

100g (3½ oz) butter

pinch of salt

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons cold water approx.


For the Filling

400g (14oz) treacle

450g (1lb) golden syrup

4 lemons, zest and juice

175g (6oz) cream

100g (3½ oz) pieces of stem ginger, finely chopped

360g (12oz) white bread crumbs

400g (14 oz)cooking apples, peeled and cut into ¼ inch dice

OR 200g (7oz) eating apple & 200g (7oz) cooking apple peeled and cut into ¼ inch dice

softly whipped cream or Jersey pouring cream

11 inch (28cm) low sided tin with a pop up base




First make the pastry.

Sieve the flour with the salt, cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour with the fingertips. Keep everything as cool as possible; if the fat is allowed to melt the finished pastry may be tough. When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, stop.


Whisk the egg and add the water. Take a fork or knife, (whichever you feel most comfortable with) and add just enough liquid to bring the pastry together, then discard the fork and collect it into a ball with your hands, this way you can judge more

accurately if you need a few more drops of liquid. Although rather damp pastry is easier to handle and roll out, the resulting crust can be tough and may well shrink out of shape as the water evaporates in the oven. The drier and more difficult-to-handle pastry will give a crisper shorter crust.


Cover with cling film and chill for half an hour if possible, this will make it less elastic and easier to roll out. Line the flan ring and chill again for 15-20 minutes, line with paper and fill with dried beans. Bake blind for 25 minutes, 180°C\350°F\Gas Mark 4. The pastry case must be almost fully cooked.  Remove paper and beans, paint with a little lightly beaten egg white and put back into the oven for 5 minutes approx.


Put diced apple into a small saucepan with 100mls cold water, cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on a medium heat until just soft. Drain.


Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C/300°F


Weigh the treacle and golden syrup into a large bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and zest, cream, ginger, bread crumbs and cooled cooked apples.

Pour into the cooked pastry case and cook for 40 to 45 minutes until just set. Allow to cool in the tin. Serve with softly whipped cream or Jersey pouring cream.


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