ArchiveApril 2024

Campania (Naples)

Don’t we all love Italian food? Warm and comforting pasta, pizza, gnocchi, ragu, taralli, mozzarella, soppressata…
Many of our most beloved Italian dishes originate in Campania, so I recently made a pilgrimage to Napoli to start to explore the area and the Greek and Roman ruins in the surrounding countryside. My trip was cut short by a foot injury. Beware of the deeply, uneven cobbled streets and pavements, beautiful but remember we are on a fault line, in the shadow of the twin peaks of Mount Vesuvius, which has been rumbling and erupting for thousands of years. If you really want excitement in your life, you can explore the site as thousands do every year. Don’t miss a visit to Pompeii, the site of the tragedy in 79 BCE where more than 2,000 out of a population of 11,000 people were said to have died in 15 minutes when they were overwhelmed by the lava from the eruption. The exact total will probably never be known.
Few folks are prepared for the magnificence and grandeur of the 66 hectare site, resplendent with huge marble temples and palatial villas, plus produce markets, granaries, bakeries – over 33 have been discovered to date and more recently, ‘prison bakeries’ where slaves and donkeys ground grain for the bread.
Less visited but my number one recommendation is Paestum, the only ancient Greek city in Italy to have survived in its entirety. Three awe inspiring, fifth century (this is correct way of spelling for single digit century), BCE temples dedicated to Hera are among the best preserved in the world
While you’re in the area, famous for its mozzarella, visit the nearby Tenuta Vannulo dairy in the midst of lush farmland and gardens.
Stop at the café for a buffalo and ricotta themed lunch, don’t leave without tasting the yoghurt and gelato also. I greatly enjoyed the mozzarella en carozza. Unlike the water buffaloes in West Cork, which range freely on lush pasture, the Italian buffaloes are kept indoors and fed fresh forage and grain but are at least protected from the vagaries of the weather.
Burrata has a creamy interior while a soft tender version with cream inside is stracciatella. Mozzarella is genius, there are many, many variations on the basic fior di latte mozzarella di bufala.  Mini ones are called bocconcini, the braided version is called treccia, firm stretched curd is caciocavallo.
Scamorza can be plain or smoked, aged Provola is pear, sausage or cone shaped.
This area on the Amalfi coast is a wonderful mix of culture, great food and totally breathtaking scenery.

Wander through the streets of Napoli, the birthplace of pizza. There are a myriad of historic archaeological sites. Don’t miss the Catacombs di San Gennaro in Naples. If you want to avoid the full tourist impact, you may want to avoid the mythical Isle of Capri and Positano. If you have to choose just one more historic site it might have to be Herculaneum built in BCE by the Osci people. Herculaneum lay concealed by approximately 20 metres of volcanic ash until 1709. Excavations continue to the present day. There among many other extraordinary remains, you will clearly see kitchens, bakeries, huge olive oil pots and wine amphora – Roman’s loved to feast!
Close your eyes and imagine you are surrounded by Romans wearing togas going about their daily routine baking, cooking, farming, pressing grapes for wine, olives for oil, tanning hides, making sandals…
Between Temple hopping, lookout for restaurants and cafes serving some of the specialities of the Campania region,  pizza of course, pasta with ragu – the rich, slow cooked, chunky beef and pork sauce, Parmigiane di melanzane, spaghetti alla vongole, (clams), grilled razor clams, tagliatelle with sea urchins but here are a few simple dishes you may not have come across before.

Mozzarella en Carozza

Mozzarella en Carozza is a fried mozzarella sandwich. Seriously guilt making food but so quick and delicious.  We vary the filling depending on what’s in the fridge but it should always be highly seasoned and include a melting mozzarella cheese. Make it your own, sometimes the mozzarella is just flour, egg and crumbed.  

Serves 4

8 slices of best quality white bread

8-12 slices of Mozzarella cheese depending on size

4 tbsp basil pesto

1 red onion, thinly sliced

4 roasted red and yellow peppers or a mixture

salt and freshly ground pepper

beer batter (see recipe)

First make the beer batter.

Preheat the oil in the deep fry to 180°C.

Cut the crusts off the bread. Cover 4 slices of bread with Mozzarella.  Smear generously with pesto, add several rings of red onion and a few pieces of roasted red pepper. Season generously with salt and lots of freshly ground pepper.

Top with the other pieces of bread to make four sandwiches. Press down the edges and seal well.  Make sure there is no cheese sticking out. Just before serving, dip into the beer batter and deep fry until brown crisp and deep golden.

Drain on kitchen paper, cut in half at an angle, arrange on hot plates and serve immediately with a tomato and mint or basil salad and a mixture of tasty well-dressed salad leaves. 

Beer Batter

Makes 425ml

110ml plain white flour

¼ teaspoon salt

2 eggs, yolks separated from whites

3 tbsp olive oil or melted butter

200ml beer or water

Mix together the flour, salt, egg yolks, and oil or butter in a bowl. Gradually add the beer or water and whisk for only as long as it takes to produce a nice smooth batter. Do not overwork the mixture. Leave the batter to rest for at least 1 hour at room temperature otherwise it will provide an uneven coating.

Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks and fold them into the batter just before using.

Zippoli or Zeppole

A delicious snack from Calabria, I loved these deep-fried doughnuts which can be savoury or sweet. This version has the addition of some anchovies and mozzarella (sardines work too). If you’d like a sweet version, add a couple of teaspoons of sugar into the initial pastry liquid and dredge with icing sugar when cooked.

Makes 15-20


75g strong flour (Baker’s)

small pinch of salt

110ml water or a mixture of water and milk

50g butter, cut into 1cm cubes

2 eggs depending on size (free range if possible)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

25g anchovies or sardines (1 tin, drained), finely chopped

80g mozzarella, finely diced

finely grated Parmesan

oil for deep-frying 

First make the pastry.

Sieve the flour with the salt onto a piece of silicone paper.  Heat the water (or water and milk) and butter in a high-sided saucepan until the butter is melted. Bring to a fast rolling boil, take from the heat. (Prolonged boiling evaporates the water and changes the proportions of the dough).  Immediately the pan is taken from the heat, add all the flour at once and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon for a few seconds until the mixture is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the saucepan to form a ball. Return the saucepan back onto a low heat and stir for 30 seconds – 1 minute or until the mixture starts to furr the bottom of the saucepan. Remove from the heat and cool for a few seconds.

Meanwhile, set aside one egg, break it and whisk it in a bowl.  Add the remaining eggs into the dough, one by one with a wooden spoon, beating thoroughly after each addition.  Make sure the dough comes back to the same texture each time before you add another egg. When it will no longer form a ball in the centre of the saucepan, add the beaten egg little by little. Use just enough to make a mixture that is very shiny and just drops reluctantly from the spoon in a sheet.  

Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Stir in the finely chopped anchovies and mozzarella.

Heat the oil in a deep-fry, drop a morsel of the mixture into the hot oil.  Cook until it puffs and crisps.  Taste and correct the seasoning.

Fill the remaining mixture into a piping bag with an eclair nozzle. Pipe little blobsinto the hot oil a few at a time, snipping each one off with a scissors or small knife or drop generous teaspoons into the hot oil.  Cook for 3-5 minutes turning frequently depending on size until crisp and golden.

Cook until puffed, crisp and golden. Roll in finely grated Parmesan if you fancy.

Drain on kitchen paper and serve while still hot sprinkled with lots of finely grated Parmesan. 

Angioletti with Rocket, Cherry Tomato and Basil Salad

Angioletti or ‘little angels’ of fried pizza dough.  Another delicious riff on your pizza dough inspired by a dish I ate in a Starita pizzeria in Napoli.

A Simple Pizza Dough 

680g strong white flour or 600g strong white flour and 110g rye flour

2 level teaspoons salt

15g sugar

50g butter

1 packet fast acting yeast

2-4 tbsp olive oil

450 – 500ml lukewarm water – more if needed

Cherry Tomato and Basil Salad (see recipe)

rocket leaves

First make the pizza dough.
Sieve the flour, salt and sugar into a large wide mixing bowl. Rub in the butter and sprinkle in the fast-acting yeast, mix all the ingredients thoroughly. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the oil and most of the lukewarm water.  Mix to a loose dough.  You can add more water or flour if needed.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work top, cover and leave to relax for about five minutes. 

Knead the dough for about ten minutes or until smooth and springy (if kneading in a food mixer with a dough hook, 5 minutes is usually long enough).

Leave the dough to relax again for about ten minutes. 

Pinch off small pieces. Roll gently into 4-6cm pizza sticks.

Heat oil in a deep-fry.

Meanwhile, make the tomato and basil salad.

Drop the angioletti a few at a time into the hot oil.

Cook until puffed, golden brown and crisp.  Drain on kitchen paper.

Sprinkle the rocket leaves with extra virgin olive oil and a few drops of vinegar, flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper and toss.

Transfer 6-10 angioletti (depending on size) into a serving bowl Scatter with some fresh rocket leaves and top with a couple of tablespoons of cherry tomato and basil salad.

Enjoy immediately with a little freshly grated Parmesan on top while the angioletti are still hot and crisp. 

Cherry Tomato and Basil Salad

red or red and yellow cherry tomatoes

salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar


1 tbsp wine vinegar or wine vinegar and Balsamic vinegar mixed or freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar or honey

Whisk all the ingredients together for the dressing.

Slice the tomatoes around the equator, season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar, toss in a little dressing and scatter with fresh basil leaves.

Just before serving.

Toss the rocket leaves in just enough dressing to make the leaves glisten. Scatter the tomatoes over the salad also.


I’ve been told that if you want to make your way to an Italian man’s heart it is essential to be able to make a good ragu.

It is a wonderfully versatile sauce – the classic sauce for Tagliatelle alla ragu, indispensable for lasagne, also delicious with polenta and gnocchi not to be confused with the well-known brand of the same name.  I have been making Marcella Hazan’s version for many years from her Classic Italian Cookbook (a book you would do well to seek out).  It is the most delicious and concentrated one I know.  The late Marcella says it should be cooked for several hours at the merest simmer, but I find you get a very good result with 1-1 1/2 hours cooking on a diffuser mat.  Ragu can be made ahead and freezes very well.

Serves 6

45g butter

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp celery, finely chopped

2 tbsp carrot, finely chopped

350g minced lean beef, preferably chuck or neck


300ml dry white wine

110ml milk

1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1 x 400g tin Italian tomatoes, roughly chopped with their own juice

salt and freshly ground black pepper

small casserole

In Italy they sometimes use an earthenware pot for making ragu, but I find that a heavy enamelled cast-iron casserole with high sides works very well.

Heat the butter with the oil and sauté the onion briefly over medium heat until just translucent. Add the celery and carrot and cook gently for 2 minutes. Next, add the minced beef, crumbling it in the pot with a fork. Add salt to taste, stir, and cook only until the meat has lost its raw red colour (Marcella says that if it browns it will lose its delicacy.)

Add the wine, turn the heat up to medium high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the wine has evaporated.  Turn the heat down to medium, add in the milk and the freshly grated nutmeg, and cook until the milk has evaporated, stirring every now and then. Next add the chopped tomatoes and stir well. When the tomatoes have started to bubble, turn the heat down to the very lowest so that the sauce cooks at the gentlest simmer – just an occasional bubble. I use a heat diffuser mat for this.

Cook uncovered for a minimum of 1 1/2 hours (better still 2 or even 3), depending on how concentrated you like it, stirring occasionally. If it reduces too much add a little water and continue to cook. When it is finally cooked, taste and correct seasoning. Because of the length of time involved in cooking this, I feel it would be worthwhile to make at least twice the recipe.

Serve with tagliatelle, preferably homemade and lots of freshly grated Parmesan.

National Tea Day

National Tea Day is celebrated on April 21st.

Sure, you’ll have a cup of tea? A warm and friendly welcome, an icebreaker, a comforting gesture in stressful times, a way to pass the time – for many it’s the first gesture of the day, the last before bedtime.
Making tea is a way of life here in Ireland but the ritual has radically changed during the past few decades. It’s now mostly a teabag dropped into a mug rather than tea leaves brewed slowly in a China or tin teapot.
Tea drinking is an important Irish custom, a symbol of hospitality, camaraderie and friendship. We in Ireland are the second biggest consumers of tea per capita in the entire world at 4.83lbs, Turkey being number one.
Well-known brands of Irish tea like Barry’s, Bewley’s and Lyons are packed into suitcases and carried far and wide as nostalgic presents for Irish emigrants who crave the unique  flavour of Irish when they are away from home.
Irish tea is mostly a blend of Assam, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Kenyan. We like to make it strong, drink it with rich milk and occasionally a spoon or two of sugar.
As I write, memories come flooding back to my childhood and the bottles of sweet milky tea, wrapped in newspaper or tea towels, that we brought out to the fields to the men during haymaking. They put down their pitchforks when we appeared with our baskets and sat with their backs to a haystack, sipping tea from huge mugs that hung on the farmhouse dresser while eating thick slices of soda bread, or spotted dog slathered with country butter.
Is there another ‘sup’ of tea in the pot was a regular question.
I particularly remember Joe who always drank his tea from a saucer, presumably to cool it. I was reminded of this recently, when we were warmly offered sweet chai on a visit to the families of transhumant herders in Madya Pradesh. At sunset, we sat on their charpai’s (woven day beds) sipping saucers of sweet, milky chai, watching women in their bright, colourful saris milking the cows and buffaloes into tin buckets. I won’t easily forget the deep rich flavour of the spicy chai made from the fresh milk.
Every country has its tea traditions.

China, of course has its tea ceremony which I was fortunate to experience in Shanghai a number of years ago. The tea was light and exquisite and of course drunk without milk.
In Morocco, the beloved mint tea is also a symbol of hospitality and friendship, made with gunpowder green tea, peppermint and lots of sugar added, it’s traditionally made in an ornate metal teapot and poured from a height into small decorative glasses, instead of a cup or perish the thought, mugs!
Traders often offer a cup of mint tea to entice you to buy some of their wares.
Turkish tea or çay is typically made in a çaydanlik, a metal vessel specially designed for making tea over the open fire or on a gas jet.
This too is drunk in small glasses or little cups with sugar lumps dissolving in the bottom.
Even though we hear more about Turkish coffee, Turks drink an inordinate amount of tea which is grown along the Black Sea coast, nearly 7lbs a year per capita.
After water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world.
Tea is traded as a commodity, consequently, there is constant price pressure resulting in increasing challenges for the millions of smallholders who grow and hand harvest tea around the world.
While traditional hand harvesting is still the norm in many countries, mechanisation can of course reduce production costs by as much as 40%. Inevitably, though irresistible to the large tea companies, it threatens employment and thousands of tea pickers in Kenya’s Rift Valley, recently lost their livelihoods.
All tea varieties come from the Camellia sinensis plant which produces five different tea types, black, green, white, oolong and dark teas depending on the degree of oxidation.
If you are concerned about helping tea farmers and pickers to get a fair price for their work and product,  enquire from the tea companies. Look out for the Fair Trade or Ethically Sourced stamp and examine the criteria it is based on.
The Rare Tea Company offers a selection of sustainably sourced, single estate loose teas. These rare teas are available both retail and wholesale on the rare tea website   
It’s worth knowing that each loose leaf brew can be refreshed two or three times. It’s a whole new adventure and one that I’ve embraced wholeheartedly.
For those who would like to know more about, what can be an exquisite beverage or indeed the story behind the true cost of tea, Henrietta Lovell, the intrepid lady behind The Rare Tea Company has also published a really informative and fascinating book entitled, ‘Infused’.
For those of you, who would also like the delicious recipe for Ballymaloe Irish Tea Barmbrack check out my Examiner column of 28th October 2023.
This week I’ve included some of my favourite afternoon tea treats for you to enjoy.


Everyone needs a recipe for this spiced tea – beware it becomes addictive.

250ml full fat milk

2-3 cardamom pods

2.5cm piece of cinnamon

3 peppercorns

500ml boiling water

3 tsp loose tea leaves


Put all the ingredients except the tea leaves and the sugar into a saucepan, bring slowly to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes.  Bring back to the boil, add the tea leaves and sugar to taste, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer for 1-2 minutes.  Turn off the heat and allow the leaves to settle.  Serve in teacups.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

A delicious version of everybody’s afternoon tea favourite.

Serves 8-10

175g soft butter

175g unrefined caster sugar

2 eggs, preferably free range

175g self-raising flour

zest of 1 organic lemon

1-2 tbsp milk

Lemon Drizzle

freshly grate rind of 1 organic lemon

freshly squeezed juice of 1 organic lemon

75g caster sugar

1 x 20.5cm round cake tin, well-greased or lined with parchment paper.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.

Put the soft butter, caster sugar, eggs, self-raising flour and lemon zest into a food processor. Whizz for a few seconds to amalgamate. Add milk to soften the texture and whizz for a second or two more to combine. Spread evenly into the greased tin. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes approx. or until golden brown and well risen.

Meanwhile mix the ingredients for the drizzle.

As soon as the cake is cooked, pour the glaze over the top, leave to cook and transfer to a wire rack.

Ballymaloe Chocolate Almond Gateau with Crystallized Violets

So difficult to choose my favourite, this is one of several rich chocolate cakes. Use the best chocolate you can buy, Valrhona, Menier, Suchard or Callebaut. For a gluten-free version, omit the flour and increase the whole almonds from 50g to 110g and proceed as in the master recipe.

110g best quality dark chocolate (62%) (We use Lesmé or Val Rhona chocolate)

2 tbsp Red Jamaica Rum

50g whole almonds

110g butter

100g caster sugar

3 eggs, preferably free range

1 tbsp caster sugar

50g plain white flour

Chocolate Icing

175g best quality dark chocolate (52%)

3 tbsp Red Jamaica Rum

175g butter

crystallized violets or toasted almonds or praline

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

Grease two x 18cm sandwich tins, dust lightly with flour and line the base of each with parchment paper. 

Melt the chocolate with the rum on a very gentle heat. Peel the almonds by placing them in a saucepan of boiling water until the skins lift.  Strain, cool, peel and allow to dry.  Grind in a food processor – they should still be slightly gritty.

Cream the butter, and then add the caster sugar, beat until light and fluffy.   Beat in the egg yolks.  Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff.   Add 1 tablespoon of caster sugar and continue to whisk until they reach the stiff peak stage.   Add the melted chocolate to the butter and sugar mixture and then add the almonds.   Stir in a quarter of the egg white mixture followed by a quarter of the sieved flour.   Fold in the remaining eggs and flour alternatively until they have all been added.

Divide between the two prepared tins and make a hollow in the centre of each cake.

IMPORTANT: Cook in the preheated oven, depending on the oven, it can take between 19 and 25 minutes. The sides of the cake should be cooked but slightly underdone in the centre.

Chocolate Butter Icing

Melt best quality chocolate with rum, allow to cool a little until tepid.  Whisk in the butter by the tablespoon. 

When the cake is completely cold, fill and ice the mixture.   Pipe the remaining icing around the top and decorate with crystallized violets or toasted flaked almonds.

Rhubarb Tartlets

Recipe from Ballymaloe Desserts by JR Ryall published by Phaidon

This is a terrific recipe to have up your sleeve. These tartlets are ideal to serve after a simple lunch or even a formal dinner.  I always make the cream pastry a day or two in advance.  The tartlets themselves don’t take long to prepare and bake in just twenty minutes. 

Makes approx. 30 tartlets

1 quantity of cream pastry (see recipe), chilled

flour, for dusting

700g red rhubarb

220-290g caster sugar

softly whipped cream, to serve

Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas Mark 5.

Place the cold pastry on a generously floured work surface. Sprinkle flour over the top and roll to a thickness of 3mm, using a rolling pin. Cut the pastry into disks using a 7.5cm round cutter. Transfer the disks of pastry to a shallow, flat-bottom bun (muffin) pan, lining each well with a circle. Place the lined pan in the refrigerator to rest for 15 minutes. Shake excess flour from the pastry scraps, gather them together, wrap in baking paper and place in the refrigerator. The scraps can be re-rolled again when they are properly chilled and used to make another batch of tartlets.

Cut the rhubarb into coin shaped pieces, about 3mm thick and arrange the pieces of rhubarb in a pretty pattern on top of the pastry. Sprinkle a scant teaspoon of the sugar over the rhubarb in each tartlet and bake straight away for about 20 minutes, until the sugar begins to caramelise, and the pastry is a deep golden colour. While the tartlets are baking, line a heatproof tray with parchment paper and sprinkle a thin layer of sugar over the paper. Remove the tartlets from the oven and transfer them from the bun pan to the sugared baking paper while still hot. Arrange on a pretty plate and serve warm with softly whipped cream. 

Cream Pastry

For years I have tried to uncover the roots of this dough – I have never seen it being made or used anywhere but at Ballymaloe – this pastry may well have been invented here. One possible precursor to this recipe is Vienna pastry found in Irma Rombauer’s seminal book Joy of Cooking (1964), yet the two recipes differ considerably.

It is an incredibly versatile dough, and I always have some in the refrigerator ready to use. It handles bet when completely chilled and well rested. I make the pastry the day before I plan to use it and roll it straight from the refrigerator. It can be used on top of classic fruit tarts or to cover savoury pies, and it is good for open fruit tartlets. It is flaky, buttery and tender, not firm like a shortcrust and surprisingly light.

Makes 370g pastry

110g plain flour (Marriage’s brand)

110g cold salted butter, cut into 5mm cubes

150ml cold fresh cream

Place the flour into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and then add the butter. With the mixer on low speed, rub the butter into the flour. Keep an eye on the mixture as it is being worked by the paddle. If overworked, the mixture will form a shortbread-like ball! Before this happens, when the butter and flour are on the cusp of coming together, pour in all of the cold cream and continue to mix on a low speed until a smooth pastry forms, about 1 minute. Wrap the pastry with baking paper and place in the refrigerator to chill overnight.

Always roll cream pastry straight from the fridge. If the pastry comes to room temperature it will be too soft to handle!

New York

I love a few days in New York, my visits are usually business related – I did several events to help promote Ireland and spread the news about the revolution on the Irish food scene.

But I’m also got my antennae primed to pick up food trends and use every meal slot to try as many exciting new restaurants as I can manage. I also have a few longtime favourites that I love to return to including Buvette on 42 Grove Street, (Between Bedford & Bleecker St.) where I can’t resist returning for breakfast every time. Fortunately, it’s still really good, delicious freshly squeezed orange juice, great coffee and several iconic brunch dishes – croque monsieur, croque madame…but this time I actually had cold tarte tatin for breakfast and it was superb. All Buvette lacks at present is a friendly host, but the food and ambience are still wonderful.

Sadly, the same can’t be said for several others, particularly Daily Provisions which was on one of my all-time favourites and where I got the inspiration for cruellers and gougères filled with scrambled eggs with lots of variations and riffs.

Claud’s on 90 E 10th Street was a new discovery this time, particularly loved the kampachi with kumquat and yuzu and chicken liver agnolotti.

Epistrophy, an Italian restaurant on 200 Mott Street was also a new find – shaved Brussels sprout salad with walnut slivers of Parmesan and pomegranate seeds with a honey and Dijon mustard vinaigrette was definitely a highlight. So, I’ve been experimenting with that combination since my return. Lots of good pasta dishes including homemade cacio e pepe, one of my all-time favourites.  

Cloudy Donut Co on 14 Columbia Place in Brooklyn are doing a range of puffy ‘hole less’ vegan doughnuts with exciting icings and toppings – Balsamic fig, Grapefruit mimosa, Red velvet, Cotton candy, Maple butter and pecan…

Love the way Americans give funky names to their sandwiches. Court St. Grocers on 485 Court Street, Brooklyn had an enticing selection. Macho (Wo) Man, Catskill, Uncle Chucky, Uncle Grandpa, Ultimate Warrior, Cubano…

Foul Witch on 15th Avenue is another new discovery since my last trip, owned by the folk behind Robertas in Brooklyn, super chic with many tempting items on the menu.  This was definitely one of my favourite new discoveries.  Loved the grilled tripe with pecorino and mint, oxtail fazzolette with lovage and horseradish and roast goat shoulder with buttered turnips and alliums. The linguini with California sea urchins was another favourite.

New this visit was the number of offal dishes on cool restaurant menus – this is certainly a new development in a town where serving ‘variety meats’ was out of the question.

I hosted two luncheons while I was over, one media lunch at Sailor in Brooklyn. April Bloomfield was cooking, and she and her team did a super job reproducing Ballymaloe food, but we also returned to taste Sailor’s delicious menu a few nights later, essential to book. Tell her I sent you…

Another lunch to celebrate The New Ballymaloe Bread Book at King on King Street, super proud of Jess Shadbolt, a Ballymaloe Cookery School alumni – delicious, irresistible dishes, including this pain perdue ice cream which guests return for over and over again – don’t miss the panisse.

Also had a memorable lunch at sister restaurant, Jupiter in the Rockefeller Centre.  Loved the zucchini fritte, how did they get them so crisp? The gnocci with speck and nutmeg and crispy sage leaves is also calling me back and that salad of beautiful mini Romolo speckled Castlefranco with lentils.

I hate cannoli, the crisp mascarpone stuffed Sicilian pastries with a passion, but I was persuaded to taste one and had a conversion on the road to Damascus and I believe the homemade cassata is also sensational, but it wasn’t on the menu, a treat for my next trip…

While you are in the Rockefeller Centre, take a few moments to admire The Rink (ice rink). I also went back to Dominique’s Ansel Bakery on 189 Spring Street (between Sullivan and Thompson) to pick up a kouign amann. A super sweet crispy flaky pastry that I queued for hours for when it was first introduced in 2016 and I love it still – ask for a DKA!

All of this by way of research.

After another busy day, I returned to Cervos on 43 Canal Street which I am thrilled to report is still as brilliantly good as I remember.
I also love to go along to the Union Square Market, preferably on the day I’m returning to Ireland so I can buy a sprouted rye loaf from She Wolf Bakery – I know it sounds like coals to Newcastle but it’s that good that I’m prepared to schlep it all the way home! I also popped into Bedford Cheese Shop on 67 Irving Place to pick up some US artisan cheese for my picnic for the plane.

Librae Bakery on 35 Cooper Square should also be on your New York list, exceptionally good breads and pastries – don’t miss the pistachio stuffed croissant – Oh My! The pear, almond and coffee scone was also memorable.

Book lovers shouldn’t miss Archestratus Books and Food located on 160 Huron Street in Brooklyn – worth a detour.

Lots of good things out in Brooklyn – that could be another whole column…..


Recipe taken from The King Cookbook by Jess Shadbolt, Clare de Boer and Anni Shi.

These fried ribbons of cooked chickpea flour have been on our menu since opening night. While the menu changes every day, these return night after night.

Panisse is a traditional street food from Nice (the Italian version from Ligura is called panelle). Creamy and salty, they are impossible to tire of. But making them is not easy: the batter is temperamental, requiring both time (they need to be made a day ahead) and attention. But panisse rewards the committed and brave.

Serving these hot and crisp, just as they come out of the oil, is essential.

Serves 10

For the batter

320g approx. chickpea flour

olive oil


For the fry

2-3 litres sunflower oil

a handful of sage, at least 10 sprigs, leaves picked


Bring a large, heavy pot filled with 1 litre of salted water and 50ml of olive oil to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and carefully stream in the chickpea flour while whisking continuously to prevent lumps. Once combined, reduce the heat to low, switch to a wooden spoon and give a good stir. Gently cook while stirring often so the pot’s bottom doesn’t catch (treat this as a polenta). After an hour, the chickpea batter should have a deep nutty flavour and not taste at all like raw flour. No better way to check than taste…Despite your best intentions, the pot will look like a lumpy porridge at this first stage. Most mornings, it draws a crowd of cooks – a couple of dollops make a hearty breakfast. Use a stick blender or food processor and blitz the batter (in batches, if necessary) until the pot is completely smooth, a few minutes. Taste and add salt as needed.

Lightly oil a 23 x 32.5cm baking dish.

Pour in the batter, spreading it out evenly. Allow it to set at room temperature before transferring the trays to the fridge for an overnight rest. These need at least 8 hours of down time, and they hold for about 24 hours.

To fry.

Pour enough sunflower oil into a deep, wide pot, adding enough so it rises at least 7.5cm up from the base. Place the pot over medium heat. As the oil warms, slice the panisse into long ribbons, approximately 1cm across.

Once the oil is 180°C, fry the ribbons in batches so as not to overcrowd the pot. Upon contact, the panisse will sizzle; keep frying until they puff and crisp all around, about 5 minutes total. With a slotted spoon or tongs, move the panisse from the bubbling oil and to a tray lined with paper towels.

Once the first batch is fried and the pot is clear, drop a few sage leaves into the oil and fry them until crisp and sharp green, a few seconds. Remove the sage from the oil and sprinkle them over the panisse. Season with salt and immediately serve this hot first batch while frying up another round.

King’s Pain Perdu Ice Cream

Recipe taken from The King Cookbook by Jess Shadbolt, Clare de Boer and Anni Shi.

At Ballymaloe Cookery School where we both studied, we fell in love with the brown bread ice cream. So, we eventually added leftover bread to King’s own Fior di latte base, and this flavour was born.

Pain perdu’s direct translation from the French is “lost bread.” It’s a bit of a misnomer as the dish basically refers to French toast. In this recipe, we toast sourdough or a Shanagarry Loaf when Darina is in town and toss it with sweet, melted butter and then re-toast to caramelize.

Serves 4-6

For the ice cream

480g heavy cream

200g whole milk

3 tonka beans or 1 small stick of cinnamon

5 egg yolks

100g granulated sugar

For the Pain Perdu

sourdough bread, crust removed and torn into small, 2.5cm pieces (75g in weight after crust has been removed)

75g unsalted butter

75g granulated sugar

Begin by preparing the ice cream base.

In a heavy, medium pot, warm the cream and milk, along with the tonka beans or cinnamon stick, over high heat. Turn the heat off just before the milk quivers (take care it doesn’t!), about 5 minutes. If using cinnamon instead of tonka beans, pull the stick out so the flavour remains subtle; you’ll have to taste and see. If using tonka, proceed with the beans in the pot (they’ll come out later).

A boil will scald the milk’s flavour, so take care!

As the dairy warms, place the yolks and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or add them to a medium bowl and use a handheld). Beat at high speed until the eggs turn pale yellow and double in volume, at least 5 minutes. Beating in air at this stage is vital to producing a stretchy ice cream.

With the whisk running, gingerly ladle in some of the hot dairy, pouring it down the bowl’s inside wall, to avoid scrambling the eggs. Once the first ladleful is incorporated, add another bit, just as carefully, beating all the while. Continue on, stopping once the bowl’s outside feels warm to the touch. At this point, stop whisking and ladling. With a wooden spoon, stir the warm, whipped yolk mixture into the pot with the remaining dairy.

Place the pot over low heat and stir until a custard with the consistency of paint forms, about 7 minutes. Lower the heat as the custard thickens, which should start happening at about 160°C if you’re using a thermometer. Slow and low is best to protect the eggs. At any point, if the custard wafts smoke, remove it from the flame, whisk to cool and then return the pot to a low flame and proceed. You’re done when a dipped spoon holds a lush coating and, if you run a finger through the coating, a pronounced line forms (approximately 180°C). At this point, keep stirring but immediately remove the pot from the flame. Pour the custard into a metal bowl; or, if it looks at all curdled, pass it through a fine-mesh sieve and catch the base in the bowl below.

Let the base fully cool to room temperature, at least 30 minutes.

As the base cools, make the pain perdu by preheating the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.

Spread the bread across a rimmed baking sheet, arranging it in a single layer. Bake, on the oven’s centre rack, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan set over a low heat. Once melted, stir through the sugar and mix until the granules dissolve.

Once the bread toasts, remove the tray from the oven and pour the sweet, melted butter over the croutons. Toss to evenly coat and then return the tray to the oven. Bake until crunchy and caramelized, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, cool the pain perdu to room temperature. It’s important the pain perdu introduces no warmth to the custard once mixed in.

Place a sealable container in the freezer (a metal dish speeds the freezing along, which is good for texture!). When you’re ready to churn, remove the tonka beans from the custard, if applicable, and add the base to your ice cream machine. Churn according to the machine’s instructions. Once it’s the consistency of soft serve, scoop the ice cream into your chilled container and swirl through the pain perdu until evenly dispersed. Cover and freeze the ice cream until set, at least 3-4 hours.  

April Bloomfield’s Blood Orange Marmalade Tart

Serves 12

30.5cm round fluted tart tin

Tart Base Pastry

155g butter (cold)

70g caster sugar 

2 egg yolks

240g all-purpose flour (plain white flour)

Almond Frangipane 

500g skin on almonds 

500g butter 

250g caster sugar 

4 eggs

250g blood orange marmalade (see recipe)

5-6 tbsp slivered almonds (optional)

To Serve

softly whipped cream or crème fraîche

To make the pastry.

Put the butter and sugar in a food processor, blend together for a few seconds, add yolks and flour, blitz until it amalgamates. Cover the pastry and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.

Roll out the pastry and line the tart tin.

Line with baking parchment and fill with dried beans. Rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Bake the pastry case ‘blind’ for 20-25 minutes approx. The base should be almost fully cooked. Remove the baking parchment and beans. Brush the base with a little beaten egg white and cook for 3–4 minutes. This will seal the base and avoid the ‘soggy bottom’ effect.

Next, make the almond frangipane.

Pulse the almonds in a food processor until they become a fine crumb, remove the nuts and set aside in a big bowl. 

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of a food processor, add the eggs slowly one by one, add this mixture to the finely ground almonds. Fold gently together to combine.

You’ll need about 900g for the tart (save the bit leftover for another tart).

When the pastry case is parbaked.  Cool, then spread about 250g of the blood orange marmalade over the base of the tart. Cover evenly with frangipane.

Sprinkle the slivered almonds over the top of the tart if using.

Bake in the preheated oven at 170°C/325°F for 50 minutes approx. until set and nicely golden.

Serve warm or at room temperature with lots of softly whipped cream or crème fraîche.

April Bloomfield’s Seville or Blood Orange Marmalade

6 Seville or blood oranges

2.5kg water

pinch of salt

1.6kg caster sugar

1. Wash the oranges and wipe them dry. Cut each Seville orange in half, crosswise around the equator. Set a non-reactive mesh strainer over a bowl and squeeze the orange halves to remove the seeds, assisting with your fingers to remove any stubborn ones tucked deep within.

2. Tie the seeds up in cheesecloth or muslin very securely.

3. Cut each rind into 3 pieces and use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the rinds into slices or cubes as thin as possible. Each piece shouldn’t be too large (no more than a centimeter, or 7mm in length.) Cut the navel orange into similar-sized pieces.

4. In a large saucepan, add the orange slices, seed pouch, water, and salt, as well as the juice from the Seville oranges from step #1. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook until the peels are translucent, about 20 to 30 minutes. (At this point, sometimes I’ll remove it from the heat after cooking them and let the mixture stand overnight, to help the seeds release any additional pectin.)

5. Stir the sugar into the mixture and bring the mixture to a full boil again, then reduce heat to a gentle boil. Stir occasionally while cooking to make sure it does not burn on the bottom. Midway during cooking, remove the seed pouch and discard.

6. Continue cooking until it has reached the setting point – about 103°C, if using a candy thermometer. I cook this slightly less than other jams and marmalades because the high amount of pectin helps the marmalade set up more stiffly. To test the marmalade, turn off the heat and put a small amount on a plate that has been chilled in the freezer and briefly return it to the freezer. Check it in a few minutes; it should be slightly jelled and will wrinkle just a bit when you slide your finger through it. If not, continue to cook until it is.

Cabbage is having a moment…

Guess it was bound to happen at some stage, but cabbage, the humble crucifer is definitely having a moment on the US food scene. I’ve recently come back from a few hectic days around the Saint Patrick’s Day period in New York. I did several events to help promote Ireland and spread the news about the revolution on the Irish food scene. Despite my best efforts, many who haven’t actually been to Ireland still think we live on corned beef and cabbage, but those who have visited tell me, usually in incredulous tones about how surprised they are to find such good food from the gastro pubs to Michelin starred high-end restaurants, definitely a positive development.
While I was in the New York area, I was anxious to taste as many delicious meals as I could manage to fit in, all in the way of research!
So what’s trending stateside? Well, virtually every restaurant had cabbage on the menu in one or several different forms…Food and Wine Magazine has several articles on it, The New York Times recently devoted an entire page to cabbage, “The darling of the culinary crowd”.
When you think about it, this long overlooked and overcooked vegetable ticks all the boxes. Plentiful and cheap, it keeps well, has a long shelf life and is loaded with nutrients. Super versatile cabbage can be served in a myriad of ways, cooked or uncooked, hot or cold, fermented and pickled. Kimchi and sauerkraut and their gut friendly reputation has certainly helped in no small way to spread the word.
Apparently China grows the most, Russia eats the most per capita.
Cabbage allows the chef to be super creative – roast, chargrilled, boiled, stir fried, deep fried…Suddenly chefs are praising its versatility, taste and texture plus it’s good for the bottom line during these challenging times.
I’m loving this renaissance. For as long as I can remember, cabbage was considered one of the most unglamorous vegetables in the vegetable firmament – now it’s one of the hippest items across the US.

Cabbage is super cool; wouldn’t that just amuse our Grannies!
And it’s good news for the farmers too. There are three major types of cabbage, green, red and Savoy with its textured curly leaves but there’s also Napa cabbage, pointy nosed caraflex and flattened ‘tendersweets’ with their loosely packed crisp, thin leaves – all are part of the brassica, oleracea family. Cabbage is related to broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts, so unsurprisingly it’s high in vitamins, has numerous health benefits and considerable anti-inflammatory properties. Cabbage has been part of the world’s cooking history, not least our own here in Ireland forever.
Now chefs are using it in and on everything from tacos to pizza toppings, chargrilling wedges in wood burning ovens, mixing it with luxurious ingredients, basting in butter and exotic spices, sprinkling with gochujang and on and on.
Here are three recipes you might like to try.

A Spring Chicken in a Pot

If asparagus is in season, slice 4-6 trimmed spears at an angle and add them to the pot 4-5 minutes before the end of the cooking time for extra deliciousness in this spring pot. Florets of Romanesco in season are another of my top additions to this dish.

Serves 6

6 large organic, free-range chicken thighs or drumsticks

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, roughly chopped

450ml homemade chicken stock

12 small new potatoes

a sprig of thyme

1 Hispi or spring cabbage, finely sliced

150g peas, podded weight

1 tbsp chopped tarragon

4 spring onions, sliced

2 tbsp coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4–5 tbsp double cream or crème fraîche (optional)

Season the chicken pieces well with salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a 4.2 litre heavy casserole over a high-ish heat, add the chicken and brown them lightly on all sides.

Stir in the onions, then add the well-flavoured stock, potatoes and a nice sprig of thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the thyme sprig, add the cabbage and simmer gently for a further 5-6 minutes, uncovered. Add the peas and tarragon and cook for another couple of minutes. Stir in half of the spring onions and parsley, saving the rest to scatter over the top. Season to taste, add the cream or crème fraîche (if using) and serve.

Charred Cabbage with Smoked Paprika, Parsley and Toasted Hazelnuts

Charred cabbage is a revelation, who knew that cooking cabbage in this way could taste so delicious and lift this humble vegetable into a whole new cheffy world. Lots of sauces and dressings work well with charred cabbage but I love this combination.  I love this with smoked paprika and hazelnuts. Serve as a side or as a separate course.

Serves 4-6

½ – 1 medium cabbage

1 tbsp light olive oil or a neutral oil

110g butter

flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2-3 tsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley

125g toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

Trim the cabbage. Cut into four or six wedges depending on the size.

Heat a cast iron pan, add a little oil, swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Lay the cabbage wedges cut side down on the pan, cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes or until well seared on one side. Flip over onto the other and continue to cook until both surfaces are well charred. Add butter to the pan. When the butter melts and becomes pale ‘noisette’, spoon all over the cabbage several times. Sprinkle with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and continue to baste regularly until tender.  Test with a cake skewer or the tip of a knife close to the stalk to make sure it’s tender through.

Add the smoked paprika and some of the chopped parsley to the butter and baste again. Transfer to a serving platter or individual serving plates. Scatter some coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts and the remaining parsley over the top and serve immediately. 

Cabbage, Parsnip and Cabbage with Mustard Seed

Try this Keralan cabbage recipe, deliciously perked up with a little chilli spice and lots of freshly chopped parsley.

Serves 6

3 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tbsp black mustard seeds

1 chilli, seeded and chopped

225g carrots, coarsely grated

225g parsnip, coarsely grated

225g cabbage, finely shredded against the grain

2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley

2 tbsp freshly chopped mint

salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar

freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste

Heat the oil in a sauté pan and add the mustard seeds. They will start to pop almost instantly. Add the chopped chilli and stir and cook for a minute or so. Add the carrots, parsnips and cabbage. Toss over a medium heat for 2 or 3 minutes, then add the parsley and mint and toss again. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a little sugar. Add the lemon juice, taste and correct seasoning. Serve immediately.


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