ArchiveFebruary 2019

Marmalade Season

The last few weeks have been a frenzy of marmalade making, Julia, and her team in the Farmers Market kitchen here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, have been slicing and juicing surrounded by preserving pans of bubbling citrus peel.

The Seville and Malaga orange season is a short one – running from mid-December to the end of February so there’s still time to whizz off to the shops or Farmers Market to stock up with the bitter sweet, vitamin packed citrus before they disappear off the shelves until next year.

If your budget will stretch to it, buy more than you can – they will freeze perfectly. All you need to do is throw them into the freezer in a bag or box in the quantity you need for a batch of your favourite marmalade.

Seville Orange Marmalade is the real deal, bitter sweet, the ‘classic’, made famous by Paddington Bear. It’s stronger, sourer and tangier than preserves made from other citrus. Having said that, grapefruit, both ruby and tart, lemons, limes, clementines, tangerines, mandarins, bergamots, kumquats, alone or in combination make delicious marmalades.

How do you like yours? Marmalade is an intensely personal taste. Some, like me, enjoy it dark and bitter, others prefer it fresh and fruity, some love lots of peel, others prefer less chewy bits and more wobbly jelly.

Seville and Malaga oranges are so called, because they are indigenous to Southern Spain and grow in towns and villages along the roadside. On my first trip to Spain I was intrigued by how law-abiding the Spaniards appeared to be. They didn’t seem to pull the ripe oranges off the trees…but I soon realised that these were bitter oranges so were less appealing to eat fresh and you may be surprised to learn that Spaniards consider our passion for marmalade a bit bizarre!

Seville oranges tend to be unwaxed, so the skin will be softer and not as smooth as other citrus. Discard any that show signs of decay and seek out organic fruit. Make your marmalade in small batches – say 2- 3 kilos of fruit at a time. Make yourself a cup of coffee, find a high stool, grab a sharp knife, turn on the radio and hand slice the peel. It will be altogether better than the sludgy result one gets from the food processor or mincer, I find it therapeutic, but not everyone does. A batch a day is certainly manageable – even better if you can entice someone else to get involved in the slicing – Maybe for a ‘bit of gas’ organise a Marmalade Party with a few friends and give them a present of a pot for their input.

There’s magic in Marmalade making, not sure what it is but there’s a terrific ‘feel good’ factor when you can admire a line of glistening jars like ‘good deeds’ on your kitchen shelf. A stocked pantry to see you  through the year….

Apart from marmalade recipes there’s many good things that benefit from a few spoons of marmalade or a little bitter orange zest e.g. panna cotta, muffins or scones. Slather it over a loin of boiled bacon (remove the rind first) and pop it under the grill to make a super quick and delicious glaze.

Massage it over a chicken breast or wings with some grated ginger and a little orange juice and then there’s Marmalade steamed pudding, my father-in-law, Ivan’s favourite steamed pudding.



Old Fashioned Seville Orange Marmalade


Seville and Malaga oranges come into the shops after Christmas and are around for 4-5 weeks.

Makes approx. 7 lbs (3.2kg)

2lbs (900g) of Seville oranges, organic if possible

4 pints (2.3L/10 cups) water

1 organic lemon

3 1/4lbs (1.45kg/6 1/2 cups) granulated sugar (warmed)

(Note on warming sugar: The faster jam/marmalade is made the better. If you add cold sugar it will take longer to return to the boil and will taste less fresh. Heat your sugar in a stainless steel bowl in a moderate oven for about 15 minutes. Do not leave it in too long or it will start to melt).

Wash the fruit, cut in half and squeeze out the juice. Remove the membrane with a spoon, put with the pips and tie them in a piece of muslin. Slice the peel finely or coarsely, depending on how you like your marmalade. Put the peel, orange and lemon juice, bag of pips and water into a non-reactive bowl or saucepan overnight.

Next day, bring everything to the boil and simmer gently for about 2 hours until the peel is really soft and the liquid is reduced by half. Squeeze all the liquid from the bag of pips and remove it.

Add the warmed sugar and stir until all the sugar has been dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to a full rolling boil rapidly until setting point is reached 5-10 minutes approx. Test for a set, either with a sugar thermometer (it should register 220F), or with a saucer. Put a little marmalade on a cold saucer and cool for a few minutes. If it wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it’s done.


Allow marmalade to sit in the saucepan for 15 minutes before bottling to prevent the peel from floating.  Pot into hot sterilized jars. Cover immediately and store in a cool dry dark place.

N.B. The peel must be absolutely soft before the sugar is added, otherwise when the sugar is added it will become very hard and no amount of boiling will soften it.


 Kumquat Marmalade

Kumquats are expensive and fiddly to slice, but this is so worth making. I was given this recipe by an Australian friend called Kate Engel.

Kumquats can vary in sweetness so you may want to increase the sugar slightly depending on the tartness of the fruit.


Makes 3 x 370g (13oz) pots


1kg (2 1⁄4lb) kumquats

1.3kg (3lbs) sugar, warmed



Slice the kumquats thinly crossways. Put the seeds into a small bowl with 225ml (8fl oz/1 cup) of water and leave overnight. Put the kumquats in a larger bowl with 1.5 litres (2.5 pints/6 1/4 cups) of water, cover and also leave overnight. Next day, strain the seeds and reserve the liquid (this now contains the precious pectin, which contributes to the setting of the jam). Discard the seeds. Put the kumquat mixture into a large saucepan with the reserved liquid from the seeds. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until the kumquats are very tender.  Remove the lid and reduce to between a 1/3 and 1/2 of the original volume.

Add the warmed sugar and stir until it is fully dissolved. Bring the mixture back to the boil and cook rapidly with the lid off for about 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat while testing for a set by putting a teaspoon of the mixture on a cold saucer (it should barely wrinkle when pressed with a finger).

Pour into sterilized jars. Cover, seal and store in a cool, dry place.


Ruby Grapefruit Marmalade

Yield 10-10 1/2 lbs (4.5 kg)


3 – 4 ruby grapefruit, weighing 3 lbs (1.35 kg) altogether

4 lemons

6 pints (3.4 L) water

3 1/2lbs (1.6kg) sugar, warmed


Wash the fruit, cut in half and squeeze out the juice.  Remove the membrane with a sharp spoon, keep aside. Cut the peel in quarters and slice the rind across rather than lengthways.  Put the juice, sliced rind and water in a bowl.

Put the pips and membrane in a muslin bag and add to the bowl.  Leave overnight.  The following day, simmer in a stainless steel saucepan with the bag of pips for 1 1/2-2 hours until the peel is really soft.  (Cover for the first hour).  The liquid should be reduced to about 1/3 of the original volume.

Then remove the muslin bag and discard. Add the warmed sugar to the soft peel, stir until the sugar has dissolved: boil until it reaches setting point, about 8-10 minutes.  Pour into sterilized jars and cover while hot.

Note: If the sugar is added before the rind is really soft, the rind will harden and no amount of boiling will soften it.


Rory O’Connell’s Marmalade Tart

Serves 10-12



6oz (175g) flour

4oz (110g) unsalted butter

1oz (25g/) castor sugar

2 egg yolks


Almond Filling

9oz (250g) soft butter, unsalted

8oz (225g) castor sugar

9oz (250g) whole almonds (If you are feeling lazy use ground almonds but it won’t taste so good.)

3 eggs

1 dessertspoon Grand Marnier

1/2 – 3/4 pot (8-12fl ozs) of homemade Seville Orange Marmalade (see recipe)

Plus 3 – 4 tablespoons marmalade

1 x 12 inch (30.5cm) tart tin with ‘pop up’ base.

Crème fraiche


First make the pastry.

Put the flour and butter into the food processor.  Whizz for a few seconds then add sugar and egg yolks, turn off the machine just as the pastry starts to form a ball.    Chill for 1/2-1 hour.  Line the flan ring with pastry, fill with paper and baking beans, chill for 15 minutes in a refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Bake blind for 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile make the almond filling.   Blanch the almonds in boiling water, remove the skins and grind in a liquidiser or food processor.

Whisk the butter with the sugar until soft and fluffy, add the ground almonds, eggs and Grand Marnier if available.   Spread the marmalade over the base of the tart.  Spread the almond filling over the top.

Reduce the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3, and bake for approx. 40 minutes.   Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Glaze the top of the tart with 3 or 4 tablespoons of Seville orange marmalade.

Serve with a blob of crème fraiche.

Clodagh McKenna

Clodagh McKenna and I go back a very long way. In, 2000, Clodagh enrolled in a 12 Week Certificate Course here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, she was always bubbling with excitement and threw herself enthusiastically into learning how to cook delicious food. I remember how she was always ready to try out new ideas and delighted to get involved in any new project. After the course she went to Ballymaloe House and loved to work side by side with Mrs Allen, as we all called Myrtle.

The pioneering generation of artisan producers, particularly Giana and Tom Ferguson, Sally Barnes and of course with late Veronica Steele were also sources of inspiration. Clodagh’s enthusiasm was, and still is infectious.

The Midleton Farmers Market, started in June 2000 and was quickly oversubscribed. Even at that stage Clodagh was a budding entrepreneur, so when she couldn’t get a stall of her own I made a space on the side of the Ballymaloe Cookery School stall so she could sell her delicious homemade chicken liver pâté. From those beginnings she went on to do a TV program on The Farmers Markets with RTE and published her first book to accompany the series, The Irish Farmers Market Cookbook in 2009, and ‘the rest they say is history’…

She’s gone on with boundless energy to open several restaurants, do innumerable TV appearances both here and in the US and the UK including Rachel Ray, The Today Show and Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch.

Her latest book Clodagh’s Suppers exudes the essence of Clodagh, who loves laying a beautiful table almost as much as cooking delicious food – lots of super tips. Here she concentrates on menus for informal suppers rather than dinner and there is much to whet our appetites. Flowers, lighting and music are all part of the ambience.

Clodagh’s handwritten menus are built primarily around the seasons and there’s a page of supper suggestions for every new season but of course she encourages us to mix and match as we fancy, how about a Spring Gathering Supper, a Wild Garden Forest Supper, a West Cork Foraged Supper, a Summer Garden Supper or maybe an Edible Flower Supper…….?

Clodagh continues to create and test recipes every week for her U Tube channel and for her Evening Standard column.

Clodagh’s Suppers published by Kyle Books has already become a favourite….



Salmon Fishcakes with Horseradish Cream





400g floury potatoes, boiled and mashed

400g skinless salmon fillet, poached and flaked

2 spring onions, finely chopped

2 teaspoons capers

1 tablespoon finely chopped dill

grated zest and juice of ½ lemon

50g butter

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper



100ml crème fraîche

1 tablespoon peeled and grated

fresh horseradish root

grated zest and juice of ½ lemon

2 teaspoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 lemon, cut into wedges, plus a

bunch of watercress (optional), to serve

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.


Place all the ingredients for the fishcakes except the butter in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Mix until all the ingredients are well combined.

Divide the fishcake mixture into four balls and shape each into a patty.

Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the fishcakes and brown on both sides. Transfer the fishcakes to a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes.


While the fishcakes are baking, mix all the ingredients for the horseradish cream together in a small bowl, and season with salt and pepper.

To serve, place each fishcake on a warmed plate with a spoonful of the horseradish cream and a wedge of lemon, plus a handful of watercress, if you wish.

From Clodagh’s Suppers by Clodagh McKenna. Published by Kyle Books


Chicken Liver Pâté


Clodagh started making this pâté about 16 years ago when she first had her stall at the Midleton Farmers Market. It is one of her classic recipes.




450g butter, softened

675g chicken livers, cleaned

3 tablespoons brandy

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon thyme leaves

sea salt and freshly ground black



Cucumber pickle

thinly sliced sourdough


Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add a knob of the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the chicken livers and cook for about 15 minutes or until thoroughly cooked with no trace of red remaining, stirring occasionally and breaking up the livers with a wooden spoon. Transfer the cooked livers to a blender or food-processor.

Add the brandy, garlic and thyme to the frying pan and deglaze the pan by scraping up all the tiny pieces of meat and juices from the livers with a whisk – the base of the pan is where the real flavour is! Add the brandy mixture to the blender or food-processor and process until well blended. Leave to cool.

Gradually add the remaining butter to the cooled chicken liver mixture and blend until all the butter has been incorporated and you have a silky, smooth consistency.

Transfer the chicken liver pâté to a large dish, cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours until set.

Serve the pâté with pickles and thinly sliced sourdough toast.

From Clodagh’s Suppers by Clodagh McKenna. Published by Kyle Books


Butternut Squash & Harissa Hummus

Clodagh has created a delicious twist on the traditional hummus.



400g butternut squash, peeled,

deseeded and cut into chunks

3 garlic cloves, unpeeled

100ml water

3 tablespoons tahini paste

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus

extra for drizzling

1 tablespoon harissa, plus extra for drizzling

400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

sea salt and freshly ground black



2 wedges of lemon

1 teaspoon pumpkin seeds


Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.


Place the butternut squash chunks and whole garlic cloves in a roasting tray, season well with salt and pepper and add the water. Cover the tray with foil and bake for about 45 minutes until the squash is tender. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Squeeze the roasted garlic from their skins into a blender or food-processor along with the squash and any juices from the roasting tray. Add all the remaining ingredients, season with salt and blend to a paste.

Scrape the hummus into a bowl. Drizzle with extra harissa, olive oil and pumpkin seeds. Serve with a couple of lemon wedges on the side.

From Clodagh’s Suppers by Clodagh McKenna. Published by Kyle Books


Coconut & Lemon Cloud Cake



A beautifully light, fluffy cake scented with the exotic flavour of coconut and fresh, citrusy lemon, this is the perfect finale for a pungent wild garlic supper to cleanse the palate, although it works equally well as an afternoon or celebration cake. You can use coconut butter instead of dairy butter and/or coconut flour in place of the plain wheat flour. And for convenience, you can make and bake the cake layers a couple of days ahead and then prepare the frosting and assemble the cake on the day you are planning to serve it.



300g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

300g caster sugar

300g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

250ml coconut milk

2 eggs

juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


200g unsalted butter, softened

250g icing sugar, sifted

grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon coconut oil

200g raw coconut flakes, to decorate


Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4, and lightly grease two 20cm loose-based sandwich tins.

For the cake, sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix in the sugar. In a separate bowl, combine the melted butter, coconut milk, eggs, lemon juice, coconut oil and vanilla extract and whisk together thoroughly. Then add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and beat together until well combined.

Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared tins and level the surface with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake for about 25 minutes or until well risen and golden.

Remove the cakes from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for about 15 minutes. Then remove them from the tins and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, place all the ingredients in a bowl or the bowl of the stand mixer and use an electric hand mixer or the paddle attachment on the stand mixer to beat on a high speed until light and fluffy.

To assemble, place one of the cakes, top facing downwards, on a cake plate or stand and spread with about one-third of the frosting to cover it. Add the other cake, top facing upwards, and cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Sprinkle raw coconut flakes all over the cake to decorate.

From Clodagh’s Suppers by Clodagh McKenna. Published by Kyle Books

Happy Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year! Are you ready for yet another celebration? These festivities go on for almost a month and red is the magic colour.

This is the ‘Year of the Pig’ which symbolises wealth. In China, every year has a zodiac animal, the cycle repeats every 12 years, making it easy to figure out whether it’s your year or not. Just check your age in multiples of 12.

For the Chinese, the Spring Festival is the most important celebration of the entire year, similar to Christmas for us westerners. It marks the coming of Spring and all the excitement and joy of new beginnings. Unlike Christmas in this part of the world, Chinese New Year is a movable feast, predicated by the Lunar rather than the Gregorian calendar. Technically it’s the longest Chinese holiday, celebrated by over 20% of the world’s population – how amazing is that!

The most significant element of the holiday is the family reunion which triggers the largest human migration in the entire world. Millions of diligent hard working people, young and old, who now live in cities, travel home to rural areas to get together with their elderly parents.

Apparently, desperate singles often resort to hiring a fake boy or girlfriend to take home to allay their parents’ concerns – continuing the family name is one of the most important elements of Chinese culture, a reason why the Chinese have such a huge population…

Lively music and dance plus copious quantities of delicious food are important elements of the festivities. There are spectacular parades in Chinatowns all over the world – traditional lion and unicorn dances, dragon parades, bell ringing and lots of fun and fireworks. Children receive gifts of red envelopes stuffed with lucky money.

The feasting and excitement will continue until the Lantern Festival, the 15th day of the Chinese New Year – the first new moon of the Lunar year so you’ll see lots of red lanterns in all shapes and sizes, widely available in Asian shops, if you want to have fun and enter into the spirit….

A myriad of superstitions are attached to the New Year…People ‘spring clean’ the house on the day before Chinese New Year to sweep away bad luck and make way for good vibes.

Showering is taboo on New Year’s Day, as is throwing out rubbish. Hair cutting too is out, so hair salons are closed…

There will be celebrations in Dublin, Cork, and Belfast so check it out. Cork which has been twinned with Shanghai since 2005, hosted its first Chinese New Year Festival on February 4th. Many iconic buildings around the world, including the Mansion House in Dublin and City Hall in Cork will be illuminated in red to mark the beginning of Chinese New Year.

Lots of foods are associated with Chinese New Year, particularly dumplings. Spring rolls are universally loved, easy to make and when fried resemble gold bars. Each food is symbolic in some way, long noodles symbolise longevity…Citrus are also considered to be lucky.

Several festive desserts are also much loved, Tangyuan a type of rice ball, sounds like reunion in Chinese so they are favourites. As is Nian Gao, a type of rice cake which symbolises success. Fa gao – is a hybrid of a muffin and a sponge cake, the name means ‘get rich’ so everyone wants some of those too. Some of these desserts can be an acquired taste for non-Chinese but if you get an opportunity, do taste them.

I’ve been to China several times, so I’m even more excited about Chinese New Year and am planning a little Chinese feast to celebrate.

Those who are born in the Year of the Pig, may want to check out the Chinese zodiac. Your lucky numbers are 2, 5 and 8, Lucky colours are yellow, grey, brown and gold and lucky directions are southeast and northeast…how about that….

Seek out your local Chinese restaurant, better still invite a few friends around to enjoy a home cooked Chinese meal, and don’t forget to wish our Chinese friends ‘In Nian Kuai le’ – ‘Happy New Year’.

Enjoy and Happy New Year of the – Pig the symbol of wealth.

Chinese Dumplings

Deh-ta Hsiung, one of my heroes, was the first Chinese chef to teach at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. This is one of his many dumpling recipes, they can be served poached in broth or transformed into pot stickers.

Makes 80-90 dumplings

For the dough:

450g (1lb) plain white flour

About 425ml (3/4 pint) water

Flour for dusting

For the filling:

675g (1 1/2 lbs) Chinese leaf

450g (1lb) minced heritage pork

2 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine

1 tablespoon sesame oil

Sieve the flour into a bowl, slowly pour in the water and mix to a firm dough. Knead until soft and smooth. Cover with a damp cloth and let stand for 25-30 minutes.

Separate the Chinese leaves and blanch in a pan of boiling salted water for 2 – 3 minutes or until soft. Drain well, finely chop, cool and mix with the rest of the ingredients to make the filling.

Lightly dust a work surface with dry flour. Knead the dough, roll into a long sausage about 2.5cm (1in) in diameter. Cut into 80 -90 small pieces. Flatten each piece with the palm of your hand, then use a rolling pin to roll each piece into a thin circle about 6cm(2 ½ in) in diameter.

Put about 1 ½ tablespoons of the filling in the centre of each circle. Fold into a semi-circle, and pinch the edges firmly so that the dumpling is tightly sealed. Place the dumplings on a floured tray and cover with a damp cloth until ready for cooking. (Any uncooked dumplings should be frozen immediately rather than refrigerated).

Bring 1 litre (1 ¾ pints) water to a fast rolling boil. Drop about 20 dumplings, one by one into the water. Stir gently with chopsticks or a wooden spoon to prevent them sticking together. Cover and bring back to the boil. Uncover and add about 50ml  (2 floz) cold water, then bring back to the boil once more (uncovered). Repeat this process twice more. Remove and drain the dumplings, and serve hot with a dipping sauce. Any leftovers should be re-heated, not by poaching, but by shallow frying them, then they become pot stickers..

Chinese Chive Omelette

Super tasty and easy to make, scatter with garlic chive flowers which are just coming into season.

Serves 2

5 organic eggs

40-50g Chinese or garlic chives or wild garlic

¼ teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon fish sauce

½ – 1 teaspoon oyster sauce

Generous tablespoon peanut oil



Soy sauce, optional

Slice the chives into 5mm pieces. Whisk the eggs together in a bowl with the other ingredients. Add the chopped chives and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Heat a wok or a 25cm frying pan over a high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the base. Drop in a teaspoon full of the mixture to test the seasoning. Taste and tweak if necessary.

Pour the egg mixture into the hot wok or pan, swirl to coat the base evenly.

Cook for a couple of minutes to brown the base lightly. Flip over to cook the other side. When almost set, – 2-3 minutes slide out onto a hot serving plate. Divide into quarters sprinkle with garlic chive flowers and serve with soy sauce.

Alternatively make 2 smaller omelettes.


Chinese Noodle Salad

Serves 6-8

8 ozs (225g) Chinese egg noodles

6 ozs (170g) sugar peas (mangetout)

4 spring onions

3 ozs (85g) roasted peanuts, skinned and coarsely chopped

1-2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh coriander

8-12 ozs (225-340g) cooked peeled shrimps

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Spicy Dressing

Generous teaspoon freshly grated ginger

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 green chillies, seeded and finely diced

2 teaspoons sugar

4 fl ozs (100ml) soy sauce

3 tablespoons  rice wine vinegar

3 tablespoons sunflower oil

12 tablespoons sesame seed oil


Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil.

Meanwhile make the dressing, put all the ingredients into a bowl, mix well.

Add salt to the fast boiling water, pop in the noodles. Stir to separate and cook until al dente – 4-6 minutes approx.

Drain, rinse with hot water and drain well again.

Transfer the noodles to a large bowl, add the dressing and toss well. Leave aside to marinade for an hour or more.

Meanwhile prepare the other ingredients. String the sugar peas and cook in boiling salted water until al dente, 2-3 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water, spread out on a baking tray in a single layer. Cut each mangetout into 2 or 3 pieces.

To assemble

Add the sugar peas, shrimps, spring onions, half the coriander and most of the peanuts to the marinated noodles, toss well. Taste and correct seasoning.

Turn into a shallow serving bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining peanuts and freshly chopped coriander and serve.


Sticky Chinese Chicken Thighs

Serves 4


8 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in

4 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

thumb-sized knob of ginger, grated

2 garlic cloves, grated

bunch spring onions, chopped

50g (2oz) cashew nuts, toasted


To Serve

plain boiled rice (to serve)


Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.

Arrange the chicken thighs in a large roasting tin and slash the skin 2-3 times on each thigh.

Mix together the hoisin sauce, sesame oil, honey, five-spice powder, ginger, garlic and some salt and pepper.  Pour over the chicken and toss to coat – allow to marinate for 2 hours, or overnight if you have time.

Roast in the preheated oven, skin-side up for 35 minutes, basting as least once during cooking.  Sprinkle with toasted cashew nuts and spring onions.  Serve with rice.


Chinese Pork sausages

2 lb (900g) streaky pork, minced

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon 5 spice powder

12 tabespoon soy sauce

5 fl ozs (150ml) red wine or brandy

10 ft sausage strings (if using)


Marinate the minced pork with the salt, sugar, spice, soy sauce and wine for at least eight hours or overnight. Mix well, fry off a little knob to taste, correct seasoning if necessary.

Feed into sausage skins or roll into skinless sausages.  Fry immediately until golden on all sides or hang up the sausages to dry for three to four days.  When dry – store the sausages in a fridge, they will keep for several weeks, or in a freezer for four months.

The Future of Irish Meat….response to the EAT Lancet Report

I love a good steak from time to time, not a huge one, but a juicy piece of thick sirloin with crisp yellow fat, cooked medium rare for perfection….I love it when each mouthful tastes really beefy and memorable so I feel like repeating over and over again “this is such a delicious steak”…

Irish farmers and family butchers have been reeling for the past few weeks from a ‘triple whammy’ of challenges.  The continuing uncertainty around Brexit, the increasingly vocal and visible vegan movement and last but certainly not least, the dramatic findings and recommendations of the EAT Lancet Report.

We’re in the midst of a climate change crisis…… Business as usual is no longer an option….

The landmark Lancet Report concludes that “a great food transformation” is urgently needed by 2050 when the world’s population is expected to have grown to 10 billion…..

Professor Tim Lang of the City University in London, one of the 36 researchers involved, stressed that without radical change in our eating habits, current trends will lead to further loss of biodiversity, increased pollution, deforestation and irreversible climate change….

Professor Johan Rockstrom from Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany who co-led the commission said “nothing less than a new global agricultural revolution is needed to deliver healthy diets for a growing and wealthier world population”

Our current diet is causing an epidemic of obesity, heart disease and diabetes….

So to save the planet for future generations, production and consumption of red meat, dairy, eggs and sugar must half over the next three decades. Instead, we are encouraged to eat twice as many vegetables, grains, pulses, fruit and nuts…..

Sometimes nothing quite hits the spot like a really good piece of beef and really good it needs to be….and certainly can be, but sadly not always is…

Ireland, favoured by nature, can grow grass like virtually nowhere else in the world so the quality of our beef, lamb and dairy products is exceptional.

We boast about our ‘grass fed’, pasture raised beef but what exactly is the definition of grass fed….?

A growing number of sceptics are quick to point out that much of our beef is finished indoors on genetically modified grain imported from South America. Even more surprising are the increasing number of intensive units where animals are confined indoors for virtually all their lives in situations similar to the American feed lots.  Critics emphasise that intensive food production systems contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution and significant animal welfare issues.

There would appear to be an urgent need for clarity around the term ‘grass fed’.

Farmers who produce exceptional beef cattle on small family farms ought to be identified and paid more for their produce.

Beleaguered farmers may be reluctant to accept that for a variety of health and environmental reasons, significant numbers are already choosing to eat less meat.

When they do decide to treat themselves, they are searching for the ‘wow’ factor.  Meat from heritage breeds, humanely reared, well hung and nutrient dense.  It’s a fast growing movement that’s not going away any time soon.  Neither is the rise and intensity of veganism and concerned though I am on health grounds, at a time when so much of our mass produced food is nutritionally deficient, its difficult to argue with some of the reasoning in terms of animal welfare and climate change.

Now that there has been time to mull over the EAT Lancet Report, a number of imminent scientists are urging caution before making widespread dietary recommendations. Remember the scientific advice we were given on low fat and eggs which four decades later turned out to be completely erroneous….

Meat and dairy products are an important source of nutrients and animals are a very important part of many farming systems.

Less is fine but “let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater” or bash Leo Varadkar for “admitting” that he is a flexitarian.  We are all flexitarians now and in my book it’s a brilliantly healthy way to eat, provided it’s REAL FOOD – not the ultra-processed edible food like substances that 46.9% of Irish people are eating at present according to a study in the Journal of Public Health Nutrition.

Politicians too, realise that public opinion is shifting rapidly, a grassroots revolution is underway, we want to see change – more sustainable food production systems where humans can co-exist with nature without causing potentially catastrophic damage to our planet.

The farming community too realise that the advice they’ve been given to maximise yields at all costs no longer stands up to scrutiny and is ‘costing the earth’ They are eager to play their part but need sage guidance and financial support to transition to climate friendly farming.

So this week, some of my favourite beef recipes to enjoy occasionally.


Kheema …..Indian Mince

This is a riff on Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe in An Introduction to Indian Cooking. According to Madhur this is the first Indian dish all Indian students abroad learn to make. It can be cooked plain or with potatoes, peas or mushrooms and is super tasty.

Seves 6


1lb onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 stick cinnamon, about 2 inches long

4 whole cloves

6 black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

1-2 hot red peppers to taste (optional)

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1x 14oz tin of chopped tomatoes or 4-5 fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped

2lbs finely minced lamb or minced beef

¼ pint plus 4 tablespoons beef stock

2 teaspoons salt

Lemon juice


Place chopped onions, garlic, and ginger in blender with 3 tbsps water and blend to a really smooth paste (this will take about a minute). Set aside.

Heat oil in a 10-12 inch frying-pan over medium heat. When hot, add the cinnamon stick, cloves, black peppercorns, bay leaf, and then the chilli peppers.

In about 10 seconds, when the peppers turn dark, add the paste from the blender, careful it may splutter. Fry for about 10 minutes, adding a sprinkling of beef stock or water (3-4 tablespoons) if it begins to stick.

Add the dry roasted and ground coriander, cumin, and turmeric, and fry another 2-3 minutes. Then add the chopped tomatoes, increase the heat and fry for another 3 to 4 minutes. Add in the minced meat and the salt. Fry on high heat about 5 minutes. Breaking up any lumps in the mince, and brown it as much as you can. Add ¼ pint beef stock and a squeeze of lemon juice to taste. Bring to the boil and let it simmer gently for approximately an hour.

To serve: Degrease if necessary. Serve the Kheema with rice or Indian flat bread like chapatis, or parathas, and any vegetables you fancy.


Pan Grilled Steak with Chipotle Butter

Sirloin is more textural than fillet, with lots of flavour, but you can use either here.

We find a heavy-ridged cast-iron grill pan best for cooking steaks when you don’t need to make a sauce in the pan. If the weight of these steaks sounds small by your standards, the portion size can be increased and the cooking times adjusted accordingly.

Serves 8

8 Sirloin or fillet steaks

1 clove of garlic

freshly ground black pepper

Extra virgin olive oil


Chipotle Butter

75g (3ozs) butter

2 tablespoons chipotle chilli in adobo

8 x 8oz (225g) sirloin or fillet steaks

1 clove of garlic

a little olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

fresh watercress or rocket leaves



Chopped parsley

First make the Chipotle Butter. Cream the butter in a bowl, beat in the chipotle and chopped parsley, roll into a ball in greaseproof paper, twist the ends like a Christmas cracker and refrigerate.

Prepare the steaks about 1 hour before cooking.  Cut a clove of garlic in half, rub both sides of each steak with the cut clove, grind some black pepper over the steaks and sprinkle on a few drops of olive oil. Turn the steaks in the oil and leave aside.  If using sirloin steaks, score the fat at 2.5cm (1 inch) intervals.

Heat the grill pan, season the steaks with a little salt and put them down onto the pan.

The approximate cooking times for each side of the steaks are:


Sirloin                  Fillet

Rare                                                  2 minutes            5 minutes

Medium rare                                   3 minutes            6 minutes

Medium                                           4 minutes            7 minutes

Well done                                        5 minutes            8-9 minutes

If using sirloin steak turn it over onto the fat and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the fat becomes crisp.  Put the steaks onto a plate and leave them rest for a few minutes in a warm place. Serve the steaks on individual serving plates with a slice of Chipotle butter melting on top and some rocket leaves on the side. Sprinkle over some chopped parsley.

French Fried Onions

A delicious accompaniment to your pan grilled steak.

1 egg white

300ml (10fl oz) milk

2 large onions, peeled

225g (8oz) seasoned flour

good-quality oil or beef dripping for deep-frying


Whisk the egg white lightly and add it to the milk. Slice the onion into 5mm (1/4 inch) rings around the middle.

Separate the rings and cover with the milk mixture until needed. (The leftover milk may be boiled up, thickened with roux and used for a white or parsley sauce).


Just before serving, heat the oil or beef dripping to 180°C (350°F).

Toss the rings a few at a time in well-seasoned flour. Deep-fry for 2–3 minutes or until golden in the hot oil.

Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot with your pan grilled steak.


Roast Fillet of Beef with Three Sauces

A fillet of beef is always a special treat.  It can be served hot or cold, but either way it’s easy to carve and serve.  Don’t refrigerate or you will spoil the texture and flavour of the meat.

Serves 8 – 10


1 whole fillet of well hung dried aged beef 2.6kg (6lb) approximately

a few cloves garlic

sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

Thyme leaves

Béarnaise Sauce (see recipe)

Horseradish Sauce (see recipe)

Aoili (see recipe)

Trim away the chain if it is still attached, use the meat for Beef Stroganoff.  Double over the meat at the tapered end and tie the fillet securely with fine butcher’s cotton twine.  Alternatively ask your butcher to do the ‘butchering’ for you.

Rub the fillet all over with a cut clove of garlic, season well with lots of freshly cracked pepper.  Season well with sea salt.

Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. This will baste the meat while cooking.

Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/gas mark 8.

Heat a cast iron pan grill to very hot.  Sear the beef until nicely browned on all sides.  Transfer it to a roasting tin and tuck a couple of sprigs of thyme underneath.

Roast for 20-25 minutes.  If you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should read 118°C/235°F. The meat should feel springy to the touch and   the juice should be a pale pink when the meat is pierced with a skewer.  Remove from the oven to a carving dish.  Cover and allow to rest in a plate warming oven for 15-20 minutes by which time the juices will have redistributed themselves and the beef will be uniformly medium rare.

Serve cut into 5mm (1/4 inch) slices and serve with Béarnaise sauce, Horseradish Sauce and Aoili.


Béarnaise Sauce

The consistency of Béarnaise sauce should be considerably thicker than that of Hollandaise or Beurre Blanc, both of which ought to be a light coating consistency.

4 tablespoons tarragon vinegar

4 tablespoons dry white wine

2 teaspoons finely chopped shallots

A pinch of freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon freshly chopped French tarragon leaves

2 egg yolks (preferably free-range)

115-175g (4-6 oz) butter approx., salted or unsalted depending on what it is being served with


If you do not have tarragon vinegar to hand, use a wine vinegar and add some extra chopped tarragon.

Boil the first four ingredients together in a low heavy bottomed stainless steel saucepan until completely reduced and the pan is almost dry but not browned.  Add 1 tablespoon of cold water immediately.  Pull the pan off the heat and allow to cool for 1 or 2 minutes.

Whisk in the egg yolks and add the butter bit by bit over a very low heat, whisking all the time.  As soon as one piece melts, add the next piece; it will gradually thicken. If it shows signs of becoming too thick or slightly ‘scrambling’, remove from the heat immediately and add a little cold water.  Do not leave the pan or stop whisking until the sauce is made.  Finally add 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped French tarragon and taste for seasoning.


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 all the butter is added and the sauce is a thick coating consistency.  It is important to remember, however, that if you are making Béarnaise 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 Béarnaise Sauce for the first time is to keep a bowl of cold water close by so that you can plunge the bottom of the saucepan into it if it becomes too hot.

Keep the sauce warm in a Pyrex bowl over hot but not simmering water or in a Thermos flask until you want to serve it.


Horseradish Sauce

This is a fairly mild sauce.  If you want to really clear the sinuses, increase the amount of horseradish!  Serve with roast beef, smoked venison or smoked mackerel.


Serves 8 – 10


3 – 6 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

lots of freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

225ml (8 fl ozs) softly whipped cream


Put the grated horseradish into a bowl with the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard powder, salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar.  Fold in the softly whipped cream but do not over mix or it will curdle.  The sauce keeps in the fridge for 2-3 days, covered, so that it doesn’t pick up other flavours.


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 (8fl.oz) oil (sunflower, arachide or olive oil or a mixture) – We use 175ml (6fl.oz) arachide oil and 50ml (2fl.oz) olive oil, alternatively use 7/1

2 teaspoons of freshly chopped parsley (optional)


Serve with cold cooked meats, fowl, fish, eggs and vegetables.


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.


David Tanis’s Vietnamese Pot Roast Beef Stew (Bo kho)

Bo kho is a delicious Vietnamese pot-roasted beef stew. It is not so different from a traditional French pot-au-feu, but it is spiced in a traditional Vietnamese manner, fragrant with lemongrass, star anise and cinnamon. When the meat is fork tender, carrots are added to complete the dish. If you wish, include turnips or daikon radish or potatoes. Serve it with rice, rice noodles or a freshly baked baguette.



2 tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce, such as Red Boat

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice powder

½ teaspoon black pepper

For the braise

1.4Kg (3lbs) beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

6 large shallots or 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

130g (4.5oz) chopped tomato, fresh or canned

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger (from a 2-inch piece)

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons finely chopped lemongrass, tender centre only

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon annatto powder (optional)

4 star anise pods

1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick, or substitute cassia bark

1 or 2 Serrano or Thai chillies, stem on, split lengthwise

680g (1.5lbs) pounds medium carrots, peeled, cut into 2-inch chunks

4-6 thinly sliced scallions

coriander sprigs, for garnish

mint leaves, for garnish

basil leaves, preferably Thai, for garnish


First make the marinade. Stir together fish sauce, sugar, ginger, 5-spice powder and pepper.

Place the beef in a large bowl, add the marinade and massage into the meat. Let the meat sit in the marinade for at least 15 minutes, or longer if time permits (may be wrapped and refrigerated overnight if desired).

Put the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot enough, fry the beef cubes in small batches, taking care not to crowd them, until nicely browned. When all the beef is browned, return it all to the pot.

Add the shallots, stir to combine and continue cooking for 4 to 5 minutes, or until softened.

Add the tomato, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, salt and annatto, if using, and stir well to coat, then add the star anise, cinnamon and chilli. Cover with 4 cups water and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer, cover with lid ajar and cook for about 1 hour 15 minutes, or until fork-tender.

Add carrots to the pot and cook 15 minutes more. Skim any fat from surface of broth as necessary (or refrigerate overnight and remove congealed fat before reheating).

To serve, ladle into individual bowls. Garnish with scallions, coriander, mint and basil.


Thai Crumbled Beef in Lettuce Wraps

Serves 6


If you want to perk the lettuce leaves up a little, making sure they curve into appropriate repositories for later, leave them in a sinkful of very cold water while you cook the minced beef, then make sure you drain them well before piling them up on their plate.


1 teaspoon vegetable oil

2 red bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped

375g (12ozs) beef mince

scant tablespoon Thai fish sauce

4 spring onions, dark green bits removed, finely chopped

zest and juice of 1 lime

3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander

1-2 iceberg lettuces

Put the oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat and when warm add the finely chopped chillies and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally.   It’s wiser not to leave the pan, as you don’t want them to burn.   Add the beef, turn up the heat and, breaking up the mince with wooden spoon or fork, cook for 3 or 4 minutes till no trace of pink remains.   Add the fish sauce and, still stirring, cook till the liquid’s evaporated.   Take the pan off the heat, stir in the spring onions, zest and juice of the lime and most of the coriander.  Turn into a bowl, and sprinkle over the remaining coriander just before serving.

Arrange the iceberg lettuce leaves on another plate – they should sit one on top of another easily enough- and let people indulge in a little DIY at the table, filling cold crisp leaves with spoonfuls of sharp, spicy, hot, crumbled meat.

Taken from Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson published by Chatto & Windus


Carpaccio of Beef with Horseradish, Lambs Tongue Sorrel

Serves 6

450g (1lb) well hung fillet of beef, chilled

6 tablespoons of Caesar dressing

Lambs Tongue Sorrel

horseradish, freshly grated

flaky sea salt

organic lemon


Caesar Dressing

2 egg yolks, preferably free-range

2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed

50g (1x2oz) tin anchovies

1 clove garlic, crushed

a generous pinch of English mustard powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2-1 tablespoon Worcester sauce

1/2-1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce

175mls (6flozs) sunflower oil

50mls (2flozs) extra virgin olive oil

50mils (2flozs) cold water


To make the dressing.

I make it in a food processor but it can also be made very quickly by hand. Drain the anchovies and crush lightly with a fork. Put into a bowl with the egg yolks, add the garlic, lemon juice, mustard powder, salt, Worcester and Tabasco sauce. Whisk all the ingredients together.  As you whisk, add the oils slowly at first, then a little faster as the emulsion forms. Finally whisk in the water to make a spreadable consistency. Taste and correct the seasoning: this dressing should be highly flavoured.

Chill the plates. Just before serving, spread a slick of thin Caesar dressing over the base of each plate.

With a very sharp knife, slice the beef really thinly and lay some paper thin pieces of the raw beef over the sauce.  Season with a little flaky sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Put 5 or 6 Lamb’s tongue sorrel leaves on top, add a generous grating of fresh horseradish, a little freshly grated lemon zest and a few more flakes of sea salt.


Marmalade Suet Pudding 

For almost a week during the cold January days the whole house smells of marmalade. My father-in-law always looked forward to the final day when the last of the oranges had been turned into marmalade, because by tradition on that day there is marmalade pudding for lunch. This recipe makes use of beef suet, the fat that protects the beef kidney. Your butcher will probably give you the suet for free because there is so little demand.


Makes 2 puddings


450g (1lb) plain white flour

450g (1lb) minced beef suet

450g (1lb) breadcrumbs

450g (1lb) sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

4 eggs, free-range if possible

8 tablespoons homemade marmalade

milk, if needed




4 tablespoons water

450g (1lb) marmalade

juice of 1 lemon

sugar, to taste


2 lightly greased 18cm (7in) pudding bowls


Mix the flour, suet, breadcrumbs, sugar and baking powder together. Add the beaten eggs, marmalade and a little milk to moisten if necessary (the mixture should have the consistency of plum pudding). Spoon into your greased pudding bowls and cover with a double sheet of greaseproof paper with a pleat in the centre. Tie the paper firmly with string under the lip of the bowl. Place each bowl in a saucepan of boiling water. Cover and cook for 2–3 hours, topping up the water in the pan from time to time to make sure that it does not boil dry.

To make the sauce, put the water and marmalade into a saucepan. Warm them together for 15 minutes and then bring slowly to the boil. Continue to boil for 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and sweeten with a little sugar to taste. When the pudding is cooked, turn it out on to a warm serving dish and pour the sauce around it.


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