ArchiveMay 2022

Trip of UK

After my gushing article last week about the wildflower lanes and dandelion filled permanent pastures of West Wales and the Cotswolds, there’s more to come….

There’s so much catching up to do with students and friends after two plus years of anxiety and dread.  We had a sort of plan but as we wandered from one special place to the next, our Instagram photos gave a clue as to our whereabouts and suddenly our phones began to ping with messages and suggestions from old friends and Ballymaloe Cookery School graduates. 

‘Don’t miss’….
‘Come and see us’…

‘Can’t believe you are having lunch in my favourite local pub’…. 

That was the beautiful Victoria Inn in Eastleach overlooking the 12th Century church and a magnificent bird cherry tree in full bloom, delicious and simple food (@victoriainneastleach on Instagram).

Another student who did a 12-Week Certificate Course in September 1998 popped in for breakfast while we were staying at Thyme in Southrop in the Cotswolds and another from 1989 joined us for a coffee catch up… then on we went to Bristol. 

Put Little French Restaurant in Westbury Park on your list too (@littlefrench_bristol on Instagram).  We had a delicious catch-up lunch there with another of our grandchildren who is loving doing Performance Arts in the University of Bristol and her cousin.  Again lots of little plates of seasonal food.  I particularly enjoyed a little monkfish kebab with rouille and a sprinkling of chives.  I also remember scallops with sauternes butter sauce and the tiny Pyrenees lamb cutlets.  Also loved the toasted marcona almonds with rosemary…a simple twist on a tasty pre-dinner nibble.

And then on down to Coombeshead Farm in Lewannick on the Devon/Cornish border, the main focus of our visit to the UK.  In 2019, we managed to book a 2-night stay and loved everything about this little farmhouse hotel in the midst of a 66-acre regenerative farm and gardens.  There are extensive no-dig vegetable beds, kitchen food waste is made into compost and almost 100 rare breed hens roam through the woodland. They rear a few Mangalitza pigs – an old-world Hungarian breed with thick curly hair that produces the sweetest, most succulent pork I’ve EVER tasted.  Its name means ‘hog with a lot of lard’, rightly prized for its flavourful marbled meat and abundance of wickedly decadent healthy, nourishing fat – no hormones, antibiotics, growth promoters…

Tom Adams and his team of young cooks, chefs, bakers and gardeners are passionate about what they do.  During the pandemic, they pivoted and created Coombeshead Provisions from the farm and gardens, also a Pop-Up Shop and courtyard café with a hugely impressive natural wine and local beer selection as well as sausages, rillettes, hogs’ pudding, piccalilli and a variety of cured meats and relishes from the pigs and garden produce.  The Coombeshead sourdough is made right there in the bakery in the farmyard and sent hundreds of miles to devotees in London every day.  The rich yellow butter is hand churned from local clotted cream made in the traditional way by Barbara Anne Lane from the cream of her little herd of one Guernsey and four Jersey cows.  One of the highlights of the entire trip was learning how to make clotted cream in the time-honoured way from this beautiful woman now in her late 70’s – more of which anon…

The food was delicious, we looked forward to every meal.  On one day, we drove down to the enchanting little fishing village of Fowey and had lunch at North Street Kitchen (@nskfowey on Instagram) – a sister restaurant of Fitzroy’s ( , part of the Jolene Group of gems and definitely worth adding to your list.  Plate after plate of super tasty, seasonal food.

After lunch, we went to Ethy House Gardens, open for just one day a year.  We drooled over the rare rhododendrons, camellias, azaleas and walked through a sea of wild bluebells in the woodlands.  There were Cornish cream teas, and even more thrilling was the Pelynt Male Voice Choir (not one of the handsome chaps under 75) belting out Cornish songs.    Everyone jumped to their feet and stood proud as the boys in their impeccable blue blazers and red monogrammed ties sang a rousing rendition of the Cornish anthem, Trelawny.  There was hardly a dry eye in the courtyard on that beautiful afternoon.

Here are recipes for some of the many delicious dishes I enjoyed..

Smoked Haddock Rarebit from North Street Kitchen in Fowey

Thank you Ethan Friskney-Bryer for sharing this North Street Kitchen special and it even contains some Guinness – certainly worth making a detour for.

Makes enough for 4-6 pieces of toast

200g (7oz) naturally smoked haddock

full fat milk (enough to cover the haddock)

25g (1oz) butter

25g (1oz) plain flour

1 teaspoon mustard powder or English mustard

2-3 dashes Tabasco sauce

100ml (3 1/2fl oz) Guinness

450g (1lb) aged Cheddar, grated

4-6 pieces of day-old bread to toast

To Serve

Worcestershire sauce

Place the haddock in a small saucepan and submerge in milk.  Cook on a low heat until the fish is fully cooked through.  Allow to cool and then remove the fish from the pan, reserving the milk. 

Melt the butter in a fresh sauce pan and stir in the flour until fully combined and smooth, allow it to colour slightly in the pan whilst stirring.

Still on a gentle heat, add the mustard or mustard powder, the tabasco sauce, then the Guinness along with 75ml (3fl oz) of the smoked haddock milk, stirring constantly.  Once smooth, stir in the grated cheese.  As soon as the cheese has melted, transfer the mix to a bowl and flake through the cooked smoked haddock.

Allow the mix to cool before generously covering the pieces of toast (ensure the mix is spread all the way to the edge of the toast to prevent the bread from burning).  Return the toast to the hot grill until the mix has turned golden brown on top and bubbles slightly.

Add a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce and serve immediately.

Fried Monkfish with Carrot Salad and Mustard Mayonnaise from North Street Kitchen in Fowey

These are just two of the tasty seasonal plates on the blackbird menu at North Street Kitchen where Ethan doesn’t just ‘talk the talk’ about local, seasonal ingredients.

Serves 4 as a light lunch or starter

400-500g (14-18oz) monkfish fillet

2 free-range eggs

splash of milk

100g (3 1/2oz) panko breadcrumbs

For the Carrot Salad

3 carrots

white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon chives, finely chopped

1 teaspoon tarragon, finely chopped

For the Mayonnaise

2 egg yolks

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon English mustard

pinch of salt

250ml (9fl oz) rapeseed oil

1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard

First peel the carrots and shred them.  We use a julienne blade on a mandolin, but you could also grate them.  In a bowl, lightly salt the cut carrots and leave them for about half an hour at room temperature to soften.

Meanwhile, make the mayonnaise by whisking the egg yolks, white wine vinegar, Dijon and English mustard along with a pinch of fine salt, and slowly add the rapeseed oil until fully combined and glossy.  Finish by folding through the wholegrain mustard and salt/additional vinegar to taste.

Ensure the skin and membrane (along with the central bone) have been removed from the monkfish and dice into 2cm (3/4 inch) cubes.  Dust the monkfish in flour, then the eggs whisked with a little milk, then the breadcrumbs.  Use one hand for the dry and one for the wet ingredients to ensure you don’t end up breadcrumbing yourself.  Transfer to a plate and sprinkle a few extra breadcrumbs on top to guarantee they are fully covered. 

Drain off any liquid from the carrots and toss with a few drops of white wine vinegar, the chives and tarragon and any additional seasoning as required.

Place the monkfish in a deep-fat fryer (or a pan no more than half full of rapeseed/vegetable oil) at 175°C/347˚F until dark golden brown on the outside.  Season with fine salt and pepper and serve immediately with a big dollop of the mustard mayo and the carrot salad.

Roast Scallops with Sauternes Beurre Blanc from Little French in Bristol

This delectable scallop dish was inspired by a starter at Little French in Bristol … Chef Freddie Bird served five Queen Scallops per person, a perfect little feast…. 

Serves 4 as a starter, 2 as a main course

8 large scallops on the rounded half shell

flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Sauternes Beurre Blanc (see recipe)

To Serve

lemon wedges

chives, finely chopped

First make the Sauternes Beurre Blanc.

Preheat the oven to 250˚C/500˚F/Gas Mark 10.

If the scallops are live, open the shell, remove the fringe and everything else except the coral and muscle.  Wash well.  Put the scallops back into the rounded half shell.

Season each scallop with a little salt and freshly ground pepper.  Roast in a very hot oven until the scallops are barely cooked, 3-4 minutes approx.

Spoon a tablespoon of Sauternes Beurre Blanc over the top of each one. Sprinkle with very finely chopped chives. Serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon juice and a wedge of lemon…

Sauternes Beurre Blanc

Makes about 250ml (8fl oz)

3 tablespoons Sauternes

3 tablespoons Moscatel or best white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots

pinch of ground white pepper

1 tablespoon cream

175g (6oz) unsalted butter, diced

salt, freshly ground pepper

freshly squeezed lemon juice

Put the first four ingredients into a heavy stainless-steel saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil and reduce down to about a tablespoon.  Add 1 generous tablespoon of cream and reduce again until the cream begins to thicken. Whisk in the chilled butter a couple of pieces at a time, keeping the sauce just warm enough to absorb the butter.  Season with salt, taste and add a little lemon juice if necessary.  Strain through a fine sieve.  Transfer to a Pyrex bowl over a saucepan of hot but not boiling water. Keep warm until needed. Save the remainder to serve with a piece of fresh haddock or hake…

Sorrel and Apple Granita from Coombeshead Farm in Cornwall

This exquisitely refreshing granita may be served as a starter or a dessert.

130g (generous 4 1/2oz) sorrel

200g (7oz) stock syrup or elderflower cordial

600ml (1 pint) apple juice 

pinch of citric acid 

Blend all ingredients together hard to a smooth consistency. Pass through a chinois (or fine sieve into a freezable container, skim off any foam that remains at the top, and freeze. 

Serve on chilled plates and garnish with a leaf or two of fresh sorrel. 

Mousse au Chocolat from Little French in Bristol

At Little French, Freddy Bird serves a luscious quenelle of the chocolate mousse in a pool of Jersey cream – irresistible!

Makes 8

300g (10oz) dark chocolate (70%) (Valrhona)

pinch Maldon sea salt

10 eggs, separated

50g (2oz) caster sugar

100ml (3 1/2fl oz) whipped cream

Put the chocolate drops (or chopped chocolate) into a Pyrex bowl, add a pinch of Maldon sea salt.  Melt gently over a saucepan of hot but not simmering water (make sure the water doesn’t touch the base).

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the caster sugar until quadrupled in volume.  Fold in the chocolate.  Whisk the egg whites until they reach soft peaks.  Fold into the base with the whipped cream.

Pour into individual glasses or ramekins.  Cover and chill overnight.

Serve with a jug of pouring cream. 

Roasted Marcona Almonds

The quality of almonds varies a lot.  Look out for Marcona almonds – they are grown in Spain and have a sweet, delicate flavour.   They are more rounded and plumper than the Californian almonds that are more widely available.

whole unpeeled almonds

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

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

Put the almonds dry onto a dry baking sheet and roast for 10-15 minutes, until golden and crisp.  Toss in olive oil and sea salt and serve warm. Try not to eat the lot!


Roasted Marcona Almonds with Rosemary

Follow the master recipe, add  finely chopped fresh rosemary to taste to the marcona almonds and enjoy. 


I’m loving Wales…I had forgotten how easy it is to pop onto the ferry at Rosslare and after a few chilled hours’ drive off in Fishguard. How charming is Fishguard…then off into the Welsh countryside.

I had also totally forgotten how beautiful the Welsh countryside is, some wide roads but lots and lots of windy lanes edged with wildflowers, native bluebells, pink campion, jack of the hedge, stitchwort, and Queen Anne’s lace…Is this the most beautiful time of the year in Wales?  I don’t know, I haven’t been here for over a decade.  And NO I am not in the pay of the Welsh tourist board, I am just enchanted….Many of the towns and villages are old-fashioned, lots of antique and charity shops, estate agents and sadly some empty premises too.

We are on our way to fforest farm, an eco-development just outside Cardigan, part glamping, part shacks and a beautiful farmhouse, but super chic.  Our Onsen dome overlooks a field of dandelions edged by a deciduous wood, out of which deer amble nonchalantly in the early morning.  A really comfy bed and a stove which makes everything toasty warm even on chilly April nights.  There is a cute little kitchen plus an outdoor kitchen, a barbecue, a hot tub, several Adirondack chairs and a lovely lounge banquette seat,  we’re not exactly slumming it…

We tuck into the picnic that we never leave home without.

Dinner…it’s Pizza Night at fforest – a very convivial outdoor affair with a choice of 5 or 6 pizzas with gorgeous fresh toppings from the wood burning oven.  Just tuck into slice after slice of whatever you fancy, help yourself to a salad of leaves from the garden, all around the brazier…all ages.

We drove to Lampeter, still in Wales, to visit friends who make Hafod, a wonderful organic Cheddar cheese from the milk of their beautiful herd of Ayrshire cows.  We talk into the night around the kitchen table, meet many inspirational farmers, educators, researchers and share thoughts and ideas about food production, farming sustainably and supporting those on a journey towards regenerating farming.

Then on to another farm, just over the Welsh border into Shropshire, this time 2,500 acres in conversion to Organic Farming.  Another stunning landscape, sheep grazing the hills and woodlands.  Walled garden and greenhouses bursting with beautiful healthy organic vegetables and fruit trees in full blossom.

We cook supper together, make a salsa verde from the gorgeous freshly picked herbs from the garden and Béarnaise sauce with some of the most luscious fresh tarragon I have ever seen.  All this served with a beautiful fillet of beef from the local butcher and some purple sprouting broccoli from the garden.   A little feast followed by delicious poached plums saved in the freezer from last year’s harvest.

Next, we’re on our way to the Cotswolds, wending our way through those idyllic sandstone villages to Southrop to stay at Thyme, a particularly lovely country house hotel in the midst of gardens and grounds…

That’s all for this week, if you are looking for some inspiration for a trip this summer, Wales is definitely worth considering. 

Here are a few recipes to tantalise your taste buds…

Roast Fillet of Beef with Béarnaise Sauce

A fillet of beef is an expensive cut and a real treat, so do take care with the cooking time to ensure it will be exactly as you would like it.

Serves 8 – 10

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

a few cloves garlic

pork caul fat (if available)

sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

extra virgin olive oil

Béarnaise Sauce (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 ground pepper and wrap loosely in caul fat if available.  Season well with sea salt. 

Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/Gas Mark 8.

Alternatively, rub the fillet all over with the cut clove of garlic as before, season well on all sides with salt and freshly cracked pepper and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.  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 25-30 minutes.  If you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should read 50°C/125°F for rare or 75°C/167°F for well done.  Alternatively 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 for 15-20 minutes by which time the juices will have redistributed themselves and the beef will be uniformly medium rare.

Serve cut in 5mm (1/4 inch) slices and serve with Béarnaise sauce.

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

Serves 8–10

4 tablespoons tarragon vinegar

4 tablespoons dry white wine

2 teaspoons finely chopped shallots

pinch of freshly ground pepper

2 organic egg yolks

110g (4oz) butter

1 tablespoon freshly chopped French tarragon leaves

Boil the first 4 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 leave to cool for 1 or 2 minutes.

Using a coil whisk, 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.

Rory O’Connell’s Salsa Verde

This is one of the most useful sauces and pairs perfectly with the beef. Can also be served with lamb, pork or oily fish such as mackerel or mullet. It keeps for several weeks in the fridge.

1 bunch of rocket, about 100g (3 1/2oz)

1 bunch of flat parsley, about 100g (3 1/2oz)

6 large sprigs of mint

6 sprigs of tarragon

1 tablespoon of capers, coarsely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed to a smooth paste

8 anchovies, very finely chopped

1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard

225ml (8fl oz) olive oil

finely grated zest of 1 lemon and a little juice

freshly ground black pepper

Maldon sea salt to taste

Remove all of the stalks from the herbs and chop to a texture halfway between coarse and fine so as the individual flavours of the herbs stand out in the finished sauce. Immediately add the rest of the ingredients and mix. It is unlikely that the salsa will need salt, but very occasionally a pinch might be needed. In any event, taste and correct seasoning adding a little lemon juice if the salsa needs sharpening up. Chill until ready to serve.

Crushed Potatoes

Many people now peel potatoes before they boil them, however, it’s worth remembering that they have considerably more flavour if cooked in their jackets. Plus, there’s less waste, and most of the nutrients are just underneath the skin.

Serves 4

900g (2lb) new potatoes such as Jersey Royals or Pink Fir Apple

3 teaspoons of salt to every

1.2 litres (2 pints) water

extra virgin olive oil

flaky sea salt

Put the potatoes in a deep saucepan, cover with fresh, cold water and add salt. Cover and bring to the boil and continue to cook over a medium heat for approx. 15 minutes, until three-quarters cooked. Pour off all of the water.

Crush the potatoes lightly and place on a roasting tray.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and roast in a hot oven at 230˚C/450˚F/Gas Mark 8 until crusty all over. 

Serve immediately in a hot serving dish with a sprinkling of flaky sea salt.

Rhubarb Crumble

Crumbles are comfort food, vary the fruit according to the season.

This is an old favourite using rhubarb which I adore at this time of the year.

Serves 6-8

700g (1 1/2lbs) rhubarb

110g (4oz) sugar

1-2 tablespoons water


110g (4oz) white flour, preferably unbleached

50g (2oz) cold butter

50g (2oz) castor sugar

25g (1oz) chopped almonds or hazelnuts (optional)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

1.2 litre (2 pint) capacity pie dish

Cut the rhubarb into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces and turn into a pie dish. Sprinkle with sugar. Add the water. 

Rub the butter into the flour just until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs, add the sugar and cinnamon and chopped nuts if using. Sprinkle this mixture over the rhubarb in the pie dish. Bake in a preheated moderate oven 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4, for 30-45 minutes or until the topping is cooked and golden. Serve with whipped cream and soft brown sugar.


This week’s column will focus on sustainable food and how each of us can do our bit to make a difference.  The question of what we should eat to combat climate change and environmental degradation has never been more urgent, however, the term sustainable has become quite a buzz word, bandied around and abused in many different contexts – all very confusing.

Having a better understanding of what makes food sustainable could help us all to make more informed food choices.  Sustainable food is not just about the food itself, it’s a combination of factors.  How it’s produced, distributed, packaged and consumed (or wasted).  Sustainable farming practices, environmental impact, animal welfare, biodiversity, working conditions and a living wage are all factors.

Intensive agricultural food production systems are responsible for 11-20% of all greenhouse gases depending on  which research one references…Sustainable agriculture on the other hand supports organic, regenerative farming and low carbon food production methods including crop rotation and avoids the use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides as well as GM organisms. 

A lot to think about in our busy lives…As we navigate the aisles of the supermarket, our decisions are usually based on price, convenience, maybe taste but in the words of Margaret Visser, ‘much depends on dinner’.  Our food choices and every bite we put in our mouths has consequences on our health and the health of our planet, awareness is growing but time is fast running out…

I’m convinced that each of us genuinely wants to make a difference so we can pass on a liveable planet to the generations who follow us… Here are a few tips to help us source more mindfully and live more sustainably.

1.    Choose foods that are in season – less air miles, no need for artificial ripening…

2.    Seek out meat, dairy and eggs from less intensive production systems. 

3.    Spend a little more and pay a fair price to support local farmers and food producers who farm sustainably and trade fairly.

4.    Support your local Farmers Market, a NeighbourFood branch – and/or join a vegetable box scheme then the money goes directly to the producer to enable them to continue.  The greatest threat to food security is the low and often below-cost price of food at the farm gate.

5.    Grow some of your own food – herbs, vegetables, fruit… If you have the space, plant a few currant and berry bushes, a couple of apple trees which go on giving year after year and create habitats for birds and pollinating insects.  Plant a bee friendly garden.

6.    Reduce the amount of plastic packaging and continue to lobby for less.  Packaging is so energy intensive to make and recycle. 

7.    Learn to use up leftovers so you can work towards Zero Waste.  Think nose-to-tail eating and use every scrap of each vegetable. 

8.    Get a few hens, three or four in a movable chicken coup in your garden will eat up your food scraps, provide you with enough eggs for all your needs and chicken manure for your compost heap to make your soil more fertile. 

9.    Make stock from meat, fish bones and vegetables as a basis for soups, stews and tagines.

10.                       Use every scrap of each vegetable, cauliflower – roast the leaves as well as the curds.  Use the fresh radish leaves in salads and soups, really delicious.  The stalks and leaves of beets as well as the roots themselves…

Ballymaloe Strawberry Muesli

Organic oats grown in Ireland are far more sustainable than breakfast cereals made from imported maize. 

This is a huge favourite with all our family and friends – it’s such a good recipe to know about because it’s made in minutes and so good. We vary the fruit through the seasons – strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, blueberries and grated Cox’s Orange Pippin apples or Ergemont Russet in the Autumn.

Serves 6

6 tablespoons rolled oatmeal (Quaker Oats)

8 tablespoons water

250g (8oz) fresh strawberries

2-4 teaspoons honey

Soak the oatmeal in the water for 8-10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, mash the strawberries roughly with a fork and mix with the oatmeal.  Sweeten to taste with honey, a couple of teaspoons are usually enough but it depends on how sweet the strawberries are.

Serve with pouring cream and soft brown sugar.

Spinach Stalks

People usually chuck out the spinach stalks after they’ve strung the spinach, but they’re delicious and it’s a pity to waste them after all the hard work of growing them.

Chop the spinach stalks you have reserved into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces. Cook in boiling salted water – use 1 teaspoon salt for every 600ml (1 pint) water – until tender, about 3–4 minutes.

Drain well. Toss in a little butter or extra virgin olive oil. I sometimes toss in a few chilli flakes and freshly chopped herbs. If you feel like an Asian flavour, substitute soy sauce or oyster sauce for the butter or olive oil.

Beetroot Tops (Stalks and Leaves)

Young beetroot tops are full of flavour and are often unnecessarily discarded; but if you grow your own beetroots, remember to cook the stalks as well. When the leaves are tiny, they make a really worthwhile addition to the salad bowl, both in terms of nutrition and flavour. This isn’t worth doing unless you have lovely young leaves. When they become old and slightly wilted, feed them to the hens or add them to the compost.

Serves 4

450g (1lb) fresh beetroot tops

salt and freshly ground pepper

butter or olive oil

Keeping them separate, cut the beetroot stalks and leaves into rough 5cm (2 inch) pieces. First cook the stalks in boiling salted water (1.8 litres/3 pints water to 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt) for 3–4 minutes or until tender. Then add the leaves and cook for a further 2–3 minutes. Drain, season and toss in a little butter or olive oil. Serve immediately.

Gratin of Potato, Spring Onions and Bacon, Chorizo or Lamb

Grass fed beef and lamb are highly nutritious and in a mixed farming system are absolutely sustainable restoring carbon to the soil which is an invaluable carbon sink.

Potato gratins are nourishing and economical one-pot dish to feed lots of hungry friends on a chilly evening.  This recipe could also include little tasty pieces of bacon, chorizo or a lamb chop cut into dice, so it can be a wholesome main course or a delicious accompaniment.

Serves 4 as a main course

Serves 6 as an accompaniment

25g (1oz) butter

1.3kg (3lbs) ‘old’ potatoes, e.g., Golden Wonders or Kerr’s Pinks

2 bunches of spring onions, sliced

75-150g (3-5oz) mature Cheddar cheese, grated

salt and freshly ground pepper

300-450ml (10-16fl oz) homemade chicken, beef or vegetable stock

For a non-vegetable version, add:

175g (6oz) bacon lardons, chorizo dice or a cooked and diced lamb chop

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

Oval ovenproof gratin dish – 31.5cm (11 1/2 inch) long x 5cm (2 inch) high

Rub an oven proof dish thickly with half the butter

Slice the peeled potatoes thinly, blanch and refresh. Trim the spring onions and chop both the green and white parts into approx. 5mm (1/4 inch) slices with a scissors or a knife.

Scatter with some of the spring onions, then a layer of potatoes and then some grated cheese.  Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Scatter with the bacon, chorizo or lamb here if using.  Continue to build up the layers finishing with an overlapping layer of potatoes, neatly arranged. Pour in the boiling stock, scatter with the remaining cheese.

Bake in a preheated oven for 1 – 1 1/4 hours or until the potatoes are tender and the top is brown and crispy.

Watch Point

 It may be necessary to cover the potatoes with a paper lid for the first half of the cooking.

Rory’s Delicious Mussels with Spices and Coconut

Bivalves such as oysters, mussels, clams and scallops are brilliant at sequestering carbon and purifying sea water.

This is a great recipe in that most of the work can be done early in the day or even the day before.

The mussels can be replaced with clams, shrimp or monkfish and a combination of fish and shellfish may be used. Thick pieces of pollock also work well as do salmon and mackerel.

Plain boiled rice can be served with this dish or just crusty bread to mop up the delicious broth.

Serves 6

72 mussels or 700g (1 1/2lbs) monkfish in neat collops

a 2.5cm (1 inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

8 cloves of peeled garlic

110ml (4fl oz) of water

4 tablespoons of vegetable oil

200g (7oz) onion, peeled and chopped

1-2 fresh chilies, sliced into fine rounds

1/2 teaspoon of turmeric

2 teaspoons of ground cumin

1 1/2 tins (600ml/1 pint) of coconut milk


fresh coriander leaves

Wash the mussels, removing any loose beards. Put the ginger, garlic and water into a blender and blend to a smooth purée.

Heat the oil in a large pot and add the onions. Cook until translucent. Add the ginger and garlic purée, chillies, turmeric and cumin. Stir and cook for a minute. Add the coconut milk and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. This broth can now be put aside for later.

When you want to serve the dish, put the mussels into the pan with the broth. Cover and place on a moderate heat and allow to come to the boil. Shake the pan occasionally and cook for approx.6 minutes. Check to see that all the mussels have popped open. Serve immediately with lots of fresh coriander leaves.

If using monkfish, bring the broth to the boil and add the collops of monkfish.  If using any of the other suggested fish, cut into 5cm (2 inch) pieces. Cover and simmer gently for approximately 5 minutes or until the fish is just cooked. It will no longer look opaque but will have a white and creamy appearance.  Serve in deep bowls garnished with coriander leaves.

Irish Seaweed and Sesame Salad with Ginger Dressing

Seaweeds are definitely a sustainable superfood.  Like all plants, they absorb CO2 but can also reduce acidification of the ocean helping microorganisms to thrive, they can convert pollutants into nutrients.  We ought to incorporate more sea vegetables into our diet, they are infinitely more nutritious than anything grown on the land.

Serves 6

500g(18oz) selection of fresh seaweed:

sea lettuce

kelp (sugar and regular)

pepper dillisk


rack (channel/bladder/egg)


1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 spring onion, finely chopped

Put the seaweed in a large bowl.

Grate a small amount of ginger into the bottom of a salad bowl and mix together with the vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar and salt.

Toast the sesame seeds briefly in a dry pan, and then add along with the finely chopped spring onion. Toss the seaweed together in the salad dressing.


What are we like?  We’re happy to eat a steak, a chicken breast or a chop but present someone with a salad of gizzards and hearts, or a spleen sandwich and they’d rather starve – where’s the logic but offal certainly engenders a feeling of disgust in many.  I’ve just had a delicious bit of flash fried lambs’ liver with lots of fresh sage leaves for supper. 

It’s wonderful to see that A O’Reilly’s Tripe and Drisheen Stall in the English Market in Cork City still survives at a time when people seem to be more and more squeamish.  I love tripe too but not so much of a fan of the traditional Cork tripe and onions, I rather prefer the Spanish or Italian way of cooking it to melting tenderness in a rich tomato sauce.   

Cork has been a trading port right back to the time of the Phoenicians, the last port of call to stock up before the ships crossed the Atlantic.  Many of those employed in the provisioning trade and abattoirs were part paid in offal SO up to relatively recently Cork people ate more offal than any other part of the country.

Wander through the lanes in the English Market and you’ll find tripe and drisheen, the traditional blood pudding, skirt, kidneys and bodices and tongue, pigs, trotters, tails and ears, livers, hearts, kidney and sweetbreads in season.
But as impressive as that sounds, we’ll lap up cheap sausages, cured meats and pâtes and yet turn our noses up at liver, kidneys, not to speak of a juicy bit of pig’s snout.  In London however, sweetbreads are now three times the price of steaks and quite rightly so.

Fortunately the Eastern Europeans and now Ukrainians appreciate the variety of meat and have many treasured ways to cook it.  Well I love offal; in our house we didn’t look down on offal, we celebrated it like any other cut of meat.  This is the best time of the year for lambs’ liver, kidney and sweetbreads so rush to your butcher, get their advice and have a delicious feast for a few euros, twice as much nourishment for half the price of a steak.  Organ meats are some of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet.

Tripe and Trotters with Chorizo

There are loads of people who don’t like tripe, but the Spanish influence of chorizo and tomatoes in this recipe lend the dish flavours that woo many tripe-haters.

Serves 6–8

2 fresh pig trotters

1kg (2 1⁄4lb) honeycomb beef tripe, cut into thin strips


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 large red pepper, sliced

salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and chopped

1⁄2 teaspoon chilli powder

250g (9oz) cooked ham, chopped

250g (9oz) chorizo, sliced 5mm (1⁄4 inch) thick

4 tablespoons parsley, chopped

Put the pig trotters into a deep saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 2 1⁄2 hours. Drain. Put the trotters back into the saucepan with the tripe, barely cover with fresh water, add some salt and cook for 1 1⁄2 – 2 hours, or until tender and the meat is almost falling from the bones.

Remove the trotters from the liquid. When cool enough to handle, remove the bones and discard. Chop the meat coarsely and add back to the tripe.

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onion, cover and sweat for 4 – 5 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and pepper, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until soft. Add the chilli powder, ham and chorizo. Stir well and cook for about 20 minutes. Add this mixture to the tripe and trotters – add a little more cooking liquid, if necessary, it should be soft and juicy. Taste, correct the seasoning, add the chopped parsley and serve.

Salade de Gésiers

When I go to Paris, one of the first things I do is seek out a little bistro or brasserie that serves salade de gésiers.  The French could teach us a thing of two about using every scrap.  Chicken gizzards or hearts are also super tasty. 

Serves 4

8 duck gizzards cooked in duck fat *

100g (3 1/2oz) French beans

duck fat for frying

4 duck hearts (optional)

salt and freshly ground pepper

a selection of salad leaves

For the Dressing

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 small garlic clove, crushed

salt and freshly ground pepper

1⁄4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

To Garnish

sprigs of chervil and wild garlic or chive flowers (if in season)

Remove 8 pieces of duck gizzard from the duck fat.

Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Blanch the French beans in boiling salted water for 2–3 minutes; drain, refresh in cold water and drain again well.

Heat a little duck fat in a frying pan over a medium heat. Remove the gizzards from the fat. Slice each one into 2–3 pieces and toss in the hot fat until hot through and slightly brown at the edges. Slice the duck hearts, if using. Season with salt and pepper and cook quickly in the duck fat.

To serve, add the French beans to the salad leaves. Toss in some dressing to coat the leaves. Divide between four plates and scatter the hot duck gizzards and hearts (if using) on top with the garnish.

*Duck Gizzards Cooked in Duck Fat

Cooking gizzards in duck fat gives them extra succulence.

duck gizzards

duck fat

Cut the lobes off the gizzards and wash and dry.  Put into a casserole and cook with duck fat.  Cook on the lowest possible heat (use a heat diffuser mat on a gas jet) for about 2 hours, until a knife goes through the meat easily.  Store in a sterilised Kilner jar or bowl covered with duck fat for several weeks in a cold place. 

Lamb’s Liver with Crispy Sage Leaves

The robust flavour of sage is great with lamb or veal liver, so keep a sage plant in a pot near your kitchen door. Sage leaves crisped in olive oil make an irresistible garnish.

Serves 4

450g (1lb) very fresh spring lamb’s liver, cut into 1cm (1⁄2 inch) slices

plain flour, seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

12 fresh sage leaves

Lamb’s liver toughens very quickly once cooked and it really just needs to be shown to the pan, so wait until your guests are sitting around the table before you start to cook.

Toss the liver in well-seasoned flour and pat off the excess. Heat half the olive oil in a frying pan and add the slices of liver. Sauté gently for 2 – 3 minutes on each side. Remove the slices while they are still slightly pink in the centre.

Put the remaining olive oil in the pan, add the sage leaves and allow to sizzle for a few seconds until crisp. Pour the oil, juices and sage leaves over the liver and serve immediately. Even if liver is perfectly cooked, it toughens very quickly if kept hot

Salad of Warm Sweetbreads with Potato Crisps, Anchovies and Wild Garlic

The elongated sweetbreads that are found near the throat and the more esteemed round ones found next to the heart, which are sometimes called heartbreads, are connected to form the thymus gland, which disappears in mature animals.

Calf’s sweetbreads are the most highly prized; they may be sautéed, deep-fried or briefly braised.  Lamb’s sweetbreads are cooked in the same way.

Sweetbreads are definitely a forgotten treat.

The salty tang of the anchovies in this recipe gives another dimension and adds lots of complementary flavour without compromising the sweetness of the sweetbreads.

Serves 4

4 lamb or 2 veal sweetbreads

1 small carrot

1 onion

2 celery stalks

25g (1oz) butter

bouquet garni

600ml (1 pint) homemade chicken stock 

a selection of salad leaves (little gem, oakleaf, sorrel, watercress and wild garlic leaves and flowers)

plain flour, well-seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper

beaten organic egg

butter and oil for sautéing

For the Dressing

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1⁄4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

salt and freshly ground pepper

To Serve

homemade potato crisps (see recipe)

4 anchovies

wild garlic flowers (or chive flowers depending on the season)

To prepare sweetbreads.

Put the sweetbreads into a bowl, cover with cold water and let them soak for 3 hours. Discard the water and cut away any discoloured parts from the sweetbreads.

Dice the carrot, onion and celery and sweat them in butter; add the bouquet garni. Then add the chicken stock and bring to the boil.

Poach the sweetbreads gently in the simmering stock for 3–5 minutes or until they feel firm to the touch. Cool, then remove the gelatinous membranes and any fatty bits carefully.  Press between 2 plates and top with a weight not more than 1kg (2lb) or they will be squashed.

Prepare the salad.

Wash and dry the lettuces and salad leaves and whisk together the ingredients for the dressing.

Slice the sweetbreads into escalopes, dip in well-seasoned flour and then in beaten egg. Sauté in a little foaming butter and oil in a heavy pan until golden on both sides.

Toss the salad leaves in the dressing, divide between 4 plates and lay the hot sweetbreads and then potato crisps on top of the salad. Sprinkle with chopped anchovy and wild garlic flowers or chive flowers and serve immediately.

Homemade Potato Crisps or “Game Chips”

Making chips at home is definitely worthwhile – a few potatoes produce

a ton of crisps and nothing you buy in any shop will be even half as delicious. A mandolin is well worth buying for making chips – but mind your fingers! When these are served with roast pheasant, they are called game chips.

Serves 4

450g (1lb) large, even-sized potatoes

extra virgin olive oil or beef dripping for deep-fat frying


Wash and peel the potatoes. For even-sized crisps, trim each potato with a swivel-top peeler until smooth. Slice them very finely, preferably with a mandolin. Soak in cold water to remove the excess starch (this will also prevent them from discolouring or sticking together). Drain off the water and dry well.

In a deep-fat fryer, heat the oil or dripping to 180˚C/350˚F.

Drop in the dry potato slices a few at a time and fry until golden and completely crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle lightly with salt. Repeat until they are all cooked.

If they are not to be served immediately, they may be stored in a tin box and reheated in a low oven just before serving.

A Warm Salad of Lamb Kidneys with Oyster Mushrooms and Pink Peppercorns

Spring lambs’ kidneys are mild, tender and delicious.  If you can’t find pink peppercorns, don’t fret, the well-seasoned tomato dice also embellish the salad.

Serves 4

2-3 lamb kidneys

110g (4oz) oyster mushrooms

1 tablespoon freshly chopped annual marjoram, optional

30 pink peppercorns OR

2 tablespoons of tomato concasse

Selection of lettuces and salad leaves, e.g.  butterhead, iceberg, radicchio, Chinese leaves, lambs’ lettuce or rocket leaves

Vinaigrette Dressing

1 tablespoon sunflower oil

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

salt and pepper

Remove the skin and fatty membrane from the centre of the kidneys, and cut the kidney into small cubes 1cm (1/2 inch) approx.

Trim the stalks from the mushrooms and slice lengthways.  Wash the lettuces and dry carefully. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan until it smokes, toss in the mushrooms, season and fry quickly for about 3-4 minutes, add the marjoram, remove to a hot plate, add the kidneys to the pan and fry quickly for about 2 minutes.  While the kidneys are cooking, toss lettuce in a little of the dressing, divide between the plates.  Spoon the hot kidneys and the mushrooms over the salad immediately they are cooked and if liked, scatter salads with pink peppercorns or with tomato concasse and serve immediately.

Auntie Florence

My Auntie Florence was quite the character, tiny in stature but a huge presence.  We used to call her Mrs. Tiddywinkle after the famous character in Beatrix Potter’s tales in the Lake District.

In her later years she seems to have shrunk in stature but certainly not in personality.

When she passed away recently at the age of 88, tributes poured in from all over the world from people whose paths had crossed with her in life and particularly from the students for whom she was a familiar presence at the Cookery School.

Numerous mentions of ‘a warm welcome from this colourful character’, ‘always ready to party’, ‘always up to mischief with a glint in her eye’. ‘A much-loved social butterfly’.

Always beautifully dressed in her imitable quirky style, she loved bright colours – pink, orange, rose, colourful beads, stripy socks, jaunty scarves, sun hats in Summer, furry hats in Winter, she even had a pink one…

All her life she had a passion for horses and the races – even in her last days, a mention of Cheltenham brought a smile to her face.

Her interests were wide and varied – she loved to entertain, play bridge, the archaeological society, the Georgian society, watching the stormy seas…

She travelled all over the world rekindling treasured friendships, making new friends everywhere she went and always genuinely interested in people.  She had an uncanny way, particularly in later life, of managing to get people to do things for her.  In one of the many memorable messages on Instagram, a past student wrote she even ‘had him and his friend washing her Yaris outside the school on the last day of exams’!. My response was ‘Just as well I didn’t catch her’!

Auntie Florence will be remembered for many things, but we’ll also remember her through her recipes, she loved to cook.  Auntie Florence’s Orange cake is the stuff of legends – it was chosen to celebrate the anniversary of the European Parliament and is a favourite Birthday cake for many.  I can still see her standing by the Aga, flipping her famous crumpets, the standby treat for any unexpected guests.  She even made the occasional loaf of Soda Bread up to a few weeks before she passed away.

Back in the 1950’s, before electricity had arrived in the village of Cullohill in County Laois where I was born, she would peddle her little bike all the way from Johnstown (8 miles) with a brick of HB Ice-cream carefully wrapped in layers of newspaper and a pack of wafers.  You can’t imagine the joy and excitement when we saw her coming over the hill.  Later we’d made raspberry buns from ‘All in the Cooking’ together at the kitchen table, a perfect first cooking lesson for a child eager to cook.  There are so many memories connected to food.

I remember helping to clean the wild field mushrooms we collected together and then watching her stewing them in milk on the old ESSE cooker – I can still taste the flavour….

Another random thought – she loved lambs’ kidneys and would sidle up to the students during butchery class here at the school and say, ‘I’ll have those please’!  She loved them dipped simply in seasoned flour, seasoned with salt, a few blobs of butter, a little water and cooked in the oven between two Pyrex plates.  Try it – delicious! 

And of course broth, Auntie Florence loved broth and certainly knew the value of it, she made a few attempts to die in recent years but each time, we brought her back from ‘near dead’ with organic chicken broth.  Sadly it didn’t work this time, but, when we see the stock pots bubbling, they will always remind us of Auntie Florence as will these recipes which I joyfully share with you.

Aunt Florence’s Orange Cake

Here it is, the recipe for the legendary orange cake.

Serves about 8–10

225g (8oz) butter

200g (7oz) caster sugar

finely grated zest of 1 organic orange

4 organic eggs

225g (8oz) plain white flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice

Orange Butter Cream

110g (4oz) butter

225g (8oz) icing sugar

finely grated zest of 1 organic orange

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice

Orange Glacé Icing

juice of 1 orange

300g (10oz) icing sugar

1 or 2 pieces of homemade orange candied peel, optional

2 x 20cm (8 inch) round cake tins or 1 x 28cm (11 inch) in diameter and 5cm (2 inch) deep

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

Grease and flour the cake tins. Line the base of each with silicone paper.

Cream the soft butter and gradually add the caster sugar. Whisk until soft and light and quite pale. Add the orange zest followed by the eggs one at a time, whisking well between each addition.

Sieve the flour and baking powder together and stir in gradually. Mix lightly, then stir in the orange juice.

Divide the mixture evenly between the tins, hollowing it slightly in the centre. Bake for 35 minutes or until cooked. Turn out onto a wire tray and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, make the orange cream. Cream the soft butter; add the sieved icing sugar and orange zest. Whisk in the orange juice little by little.

To make the icing, simply add enough orange juice to the icing sugar to make a spreadable icing.

When the cakes are cold, use a serrated bread knife to split each one in two halves.  Spread with a little filling and then sandwich the two bases together.

Spread the icing over the top and sides and decorate the top with little diamonds or heart shaped pieces of orange candied peel.


Single Orange Cakes

We sometimes just ice the top and sides of each layer with orange buttercream or glacé icing.  Decorate the sides with toasted flaked almonds and the top with candied orange peel – two cakes for the price of one…

Auntie Florence’s ‘Crumpets’

Another great standby, ‘Crumpets’ are made in minutes with ingredients you’d probably have in your pantry.  A perfect solution if you’ve got nothing ‘in the tin’ when a friend drops in for tea. The problem is one always eats too many!  If you can’t find Bextartar, substitute self-raising flour and 2 teaspoons of baking powder.

Makes 15 approx.

225g (8oz) plain white flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon bread soda (bicarbonate of soda)

1 teaspoon Bextartar (cream of tartar)

2 eggs, preferably free range

225ml (8fl oz) milk

50g (2oz) castor sugar

25g (1oz) butter

To Serve


homemade jam or apple jelly


lemon juice and castor sugar

Sieve the dry ingredients into a bowl and rub in the butter. Drop the eggs into the centre, add a little of the milk and stir rapidly with a whisk allowing the flour to drop gradually in from the sides. When half the milk is added, beat until air bubbles rise. Add the remainder of the milk and allow to stand for one hour if possible. *  Drop a good dessertspoonful into a hottish pan and cook until bubbles appear on the top. It usually takes a bit of trial and error to get the temperature right. Flip over and cook until golden on the other side. Serve immediately with butter and homemade jam or better still apple jelly.  Alternatively crumpets can also be served with warm lemon juice and sprinkled with castor sugar.

* They are usually lighter if the batter is allowed to stand but I’ve often cooked them immediately with very acceptable results!

Auntie Florence’s Soda Bread

Florence sometimes added an egg to the buttermilk for extra deliciousness.

Makes 1 loaf

225g (8oz) brown wholemeal flour (preferably stone-ground)

225g (8oz) plain white flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 level teaspoon bread soda (Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda), sieved

1 tablespoon of fine oatmeal or bran or wheat germ

25g (1oz) of butter or 2 tablespoons fresh cream

1 organic and free-range egg

400-425ml (14-15fl oz) sour milk or buttermilk

wholemeal flour for the work top and baking sheet

First preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/Gas Mark 8.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large wide bowl, rub in the butter.  Add the cream (if using) and beaten egg to the sour milk or buttermilk to measure 425ml (15fl oz).  Make a well in the centre and pour all of the buttermilk mixture. Using one hand, stir in a full circle, starting in the centre and working towards the outside of the bowl until all the flour is incorporated. The dough should be soft but not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, in a matter of seconds, turn it out onto a well-floured board (use wholemeal flour).

WASH AND DRY YOUR HANDS. Roll around gently with floury hands for a second, just enough to tidy it up. Flip over and flatten slightly to about 5cm (2 inches) approx. Sprinkle a little of the spare wholemeal flour from the worktop onto a baking tray.  Lay the loaf on top of the flour. Mark the surface with a deep cross and prick in each corner to let the fairies out of the bread. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 and cook for a further 30 minutes approximately.   Turn the bread upside down on the baking tray and continue to cook for 5-10 minutes.  The bread will sound hollow when tapped on both sides.  Cool on a wire rack, wrapped in a clean tea-towel while hot if you prefer a softer crust.

Raspberry Buns

These buns were the very first thing I remember helping my Auntie Florence to bake. My grandchildren love filling the holes in the centre with jam, just as I did – I seem to recall that the recipe came from ‘All in the Cooking’.

Makes about 10

200g (7oz) self-raising flour and 25g (1oz) ground rice


225g (8oz) self-raising flour

75g (3oz) caster sugar

75g (3oz) butter diced

1 organic egg

1 tablespoon full cream milk

homemade raspberry jam

egg wash

caster sugar

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

Put the flour and ground rice, if using, into a bowl and add the caster sugar. Toss, add in the diced butter to the flour. Then rub into the dry ingredients with the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Whisk the egg with the milk and then use a fork to mix it with the dry ingredients until you have a softish dough.

Divide the mixture in two, roll each half into a thick rope and then divide each into five pieces. Form each piece into a round and transfer to a baking tray.  Dip your thumb in flour and make an indentation in the centre of each bun.

Drop a little spoonful of raspberry jam into the hole, then pinch the edges of dough together to almost cover the jam.

Brush the top of each raspberry bun with egg wash and bake for 10 – 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, sprinkle with caster sugar and eat while nice and fresh.

Kidneys on a plate

Another of Auntie Florence’s favourites.

Serves 2

4 young lambs’ kidneys

plain white flour well-seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

20g (3/4oz) butter

2 tablespoons water

2 Pyrex plates

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

Half the kidneys and remove the ‘plumbing’.  Dip each piece into well-seasoned flour.  Arrange in a single layer on a Pyrex plate, dot with little pieces of butter and add a couple of tablespoons of cold water.  Cover with a second Pyrex plate and cook for 15-20 minutes or until no trace of pink remains. Serve with bread and butter to mop up the delicious juices.  


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