AuthorDarina Allen

An Irish boy in The Dairy


The introduction to Robin Gill’s book, Larder enraged me and brought me close to tears. Robin’s graphic description of his long and tortuous journey through many kitchens both in Ireland and the UK to become a chef, makes harrowing reading and speaks volumes about the reason why there is now a proper chef crisis in so many restaurants, What Robin, who comes from Malahide in Dublin, and many others have had to endure is NOT OK, the verbal and physical abuse, sadism and downright cruelty is unconscionable and in any other walk of life would land the perpetrators in jail. How come, degrees of this behaviour have been acceptable for so long…

We’re all guilty; we need to ask questions about what’s going on in the kitchen to put the food on our plate. Get a grip, it’s only food after all and it is absolutely not necessary to have a toxic atmosphere to produce delectable morsels on a plate.


In fact quite the opposite, a happy team ooze energy and creativity Myrtle Allen herself was a wonderful example to all of us. In all the years I worked in Ballymaloe House kitchen, I never, ever, heard anyone shout or swear, despite all the pressure of a busy kitchen and Myrtle’s unwavering commitment to quality.

It’s a long road that doesn’t have a turn. Robin eventually chanced upon a 2 star Michelin; family run restaurant in Italy with a farm overlooking Capri called Don Alfonso 1890. There he learned the true meaning of ‘farm to table’.

Robin wrote “It was my first exposure to true cooking with the seasons, when something was in such abundance and at its best and had to be put to use. It was a revelation to me. Whatever couldn’t be used was preserved and kept for a season less generous. It was natural (and beautiful) in every way” He learned how to hold back and let the produce speak for itself. For the first time he truly understood what it means to be seasonal, how to walk the walk, not just talk the talk as sadly so many restaurants do. He spent several years with Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxford, of which he speaks highly as a teaching kitchen. In 2013 he and his wife Sarah were ready to open their own place on a on a prayer and a shoestring in an old building on Clapham Common. It’s called The Dairy, has a herb and vegetable garden in crates on the roof and is the first of three restaurants Robin and Sarah now own. Finally back to Robin’s book aptly called Larder published by Absolute Press.


This is an interesting and unusual book , a combination of exquisite but seriously time consuming ‘cheffy’ recipes at the back of the book and a whole amazing section on pickling, preserving, smoking, fermenting, making miso, brewing, infusions  and curing  recipes at the beginning of the book that make up the basics of his larder. Many of the recipes are super simple, fun to make and will transform your food as well as get you addicted to stacking your larder shelves.



Robin Gill’s Beetroot Gin


makes 750ml (1 pint7fl oz)


4 raw beetroots, peeled and diced

750ml (1 pint7fl oz) gin


Add the diced beetroot to the gin in a large sterilised jar seal and leave to infuse in a cool, dark place for 3–4 days.

Strain through a fine sieve.

Store the gin in a sealed jar or bottle in a cool, dark place.

From Larder by Robin Gill (Absolute Press)  Photography © Paul Winch-Furness



Robin Gill’s Charred Mackerel, Cucumber, Dashi, Sea Purslane


Generally speaking, mackerel must be at its absolute freshest – I detest mackerel once it has been more than two days out of the deep blue – so when buying your fish, make sure the flesh is firm, the gills are bright red and the eyes are bright and glistening. We use salt to season and firm up the fish, and I like to serve it medium-rare. This is a really fresh and vibrant dish to serve in late summer.


serves 4–6


dill-pickled cucumber

2 small cucumbers or ½ regular-sized cucumbers

75g (3oz) ice

75g (3oz) caster sugar

75ml (3fl oz) Chardonnay vinegar

a bunch of dill, fronds picked a large pinch of fine table salt


dill oil

150g (5oz) picked dill fronds

150ml (5fl oz) rapeseed oil


charred mackerel

3 medium mackerel, filleted

fresh lemon juice



4–6 teaspoons Roast Garlic Miso Purée (see recipe below), at room temperature, 1 teaspoon per serving purslane leaves

sea purslane, blanched for 30 seconds

Wild Garlic Capers with some of the pickling liquor or capers

160–240ml (6-9fl oz) Dashi (see recipe), warmed – 40ml (1 ½fl oz) per serving

Maldon sea salt


Peel the cucumbers and set aside; reserve the skin. Blend together the ice, caster sugar, vinegar, dill, the cucumber skin and salt in a blender or food processor. Strain through a fine sieve and pour this liquid over the peeled cucumbers. Leave to marinate for 1 hour


Blend together the dill and oil in a blender or food processor for 1 minute. Transfer to a pan, bring to the boil and boil rapidly for 2 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl set over ice to cool.


Blowtorch, barbecue or grill (on a hot ridged grill pan) the skin side of the mackerel fillets –you are just looking to scorch the skin and lightly cook the fish to medium-rare. Season the fillets with lemon juice and salt to taste.


Drain the pickled cucumbers and slice into rounds. Spread a teaspoon of miso purée in each bowl, then add the mackerel. Top the fish with the cucumber slices (fanned). Place the fresh purslane, sea purslane and wild garlic capers to the side. Drizzle over some dill oil. In a jug, season the warm dashi with a little of the pickling liquor from the wild garlic capers. The dashi should be poured over each dish at the table




Robyn Gill’s Roast Garlic Miso Purée


Makes about 650g


350g (12oz) garlic cloves (peeled)

a drizzle of vegetable oil

demerara sugar

175g (6oz) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

150ml (5fl oz) sherry vinegar

175g (6oz) sweet white miso

175g (6oz) malt extract



Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/2oo°C/Gas Mark 6. Toss the garlic cloves in the oil and coat them in demerara sugar. Wrap the cloves loosely in foil to create a parcel. Roast for 25 minutes. Open the parcel and return to the oven to roast for a further 5 minutes. Tip the garlic into a food processor and blend the cloves to a smooth puree.


Put the butter into a pan set over a high heat and cook until the butter starts to foam, brown and take on a nutty aroma. Immediately remove from the heat and cool quickly to stop the butter from burning.


Boil the vinegar in another pan until reduced to 75ml.


Add the brown butter, vinegar, miso and malt extract to the garlic purée and blend until smooth. Cool. The puree can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 1 month.



Robin Gill’s Dashi

makes about 1 litre (1¾ pints)


25g (1oz) dried kombu

1 litre distilled water, boiled and cooled (or use filtered water or still mineral water)

1 sheet of dried nori (about 3g)

15g (½ oz) bonito flakes

2 teaspoons white soy sauce

10 wild garlic leaves (if unavailable use 2 sliced garlic cloves)

Maldon sea salt


Add the kombu to the water in a pan and bring to a very gentle simmer (do not boil). Simmer for 1 hour.

Strain the liquid through a fine sieve into a jug.

Season with the nori, bonito flakes, soy sauce, wild garlic leaves and a pinch of salt. Allow to infuse for 5 minutes. Taste to check the seasoning and adjust as required: the dashi should be salty and savoury with umami. Strain the dashi through the fine sieve.

Once cooled, it can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for 2-3 days

From Larder by Robin Gill (Absolute Press)  Photography © Paul Winch-Furness



Robyn Gill’s Pickled Radishes


Makes 1.5kg (3lb 5oz)


300ml (10fl oz) water

300ml (10fl oz) white wine vinegar

300g (10 oz) caster sugar

1.5kg (3lb 5oz) radishes



Combine the water, vinegar and sugar in a pan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour this boiling pickling liquor over the radishes in a bowl. Allow to cool, then decant into sterilised jars and seal. The radishes are ready to use straight away or can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 months.

From Larder by Robin Gill (Absolute Press)  Photography © Paul Winch-Furness




Robin Gill’s Carrot and Caraway Pickle

makes about 1kg (2¼lbs)


40g (1½ oz) caraway seeds 1kg mixed heritage

carrots 200ml (7fl oz) cider

vinegar 200ml (7fl oz) water

200g (7oz) caster sugar



Toast the caraway seeds in a dry pan until they smell aromatic. Set aside.


Peel the carrots, and then slice into thin rounds on a mandolin.


Combine the vinegar, water, sugar and caraway seeds in a suitable-sized pot. Bring to the boil, then add the carrot slices and remove from the heat immediately. Decant into a sterilised 2-litre jar and seal.

The pickle can be stored for 1 year in a cool, dark place. Once opened, keep in the fridge for up to 3 months.

From Larder by Robin Gill (Absolute Press)  Photography © Paul Winch-Furness



 Robin Gill’s Apricot and Lemon Thyme Jam


makes 6 x 228ml jars


1kg (2 ¼ lbs) fresh apricots

50ml (2floz) water

50ml (2fl oz) fresh lemon juice

600g (1¼lb) jam sugar

100g (3½ oz) unsalted butter, cut into cubes

100g (3½ oz) honey

3 sprigs of lemon thyme, leaves picked

1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt


Before you begin making the jam, put three or four small plates in the freezer. Cut the apricots in half and remove the stones, then cut each half into quarters. Place the apricots and water in a large pot and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes to soften. Stir in the lemon juice and sugar and bring the mixture up to 104°C/225°F


Reduce the heat and allow to simmer, stirring now and again, for
a further 20 minutes or until the jam has reached soft setting point – use the wrinkle test to check. To do this, take the pan off the heat and carefully spoon a little jam on to one of the cold plates. Let it stand for a minute, then push the blob of jam with your finger. If the surface of the jam wrinkles then it has reached setting point; if it is still quite liquid, then put the pan back on the heat and boil the jam for another couple of minutes before testing again, using different plates from the freezer.


Meanwhile, make a brown butter by melting and heating the butter cubes in a pan over a high heat until the butter starts to foam and brown and gives off a nutty aroma. Once this occurs, remove from the heat immediately and cool quickly by setting the base of the pan in cold water, to stop the butter from burning.


Put the honey in another pan and cook over a medium heat to a dark caramel colour. Remove from the heat and stir in the brown butter. Add to the apricot jam while still warm. Stir through the lemon thyme leaves and salt. Ladle the warm jam into sterilised jars and seal.


The jam can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months. Once opened, keep in the fridge and use within 6 weeks.

From Larder by Robin Gill (Absolute Press)  Photography © Paul Winch-Furness



Merlin Lebron

The Summer 12 week Certificate Course students had a special treat last week, when Merlin Lebron Johnston from Portland Restaurant in London came as guest chef to The Ballymaloe Cookery School. This gentle young man is the youngest Michelin starred chef in the UK


His back story is intriguing. Merlin had a distinctly, rocky relationship with school, eventually he was fortunate to be sent to Ashbourne, a progressive school in Devon, where the students in conjunction with the teachers made the decision that going to lessons was not compulsory on the assumption that if they did turn up to class, they would be interested and give it their all. This worked brilliantly for 95% of the students, but Merlin was not interested in any class so he hung around for a bit…The secretary, a lady called Joanna doubled up as a cook and produced school dinner every day. Three courses – vegetarian, organic and delicious. The students could either have packed lunches or school dinners but the latter was expensive so Merlin would plead with Joanna to give him some food, “She made rice pudding and crumbles, crème brûlée, great salads, pasta. I would beg her for some. We made a deal. If you want to cook you need to wash up, fine with me and seeing how I wasn’t that busy I started helping her cook and after a bit she got busier and eventually I started to cook for my school at 15….” When exam time came the teachers said, “Well you seem to love cooking, we think you should be a chef”, so Merlin left and got a job. “Once I found cooking I became pretty obsessed and became totally focused on working in the best restaurants”.

For the next five years Merlin worked in top restaurants in the UK, Switzerland, France and Belgium, both classic and experimental, including In De Wulf in Belgium where there was a big focus on foraging and fermentation. At 23 he became sous chef there. Meanwhile in London, Will Lander and Will Morganstern were looking out for a head chef for a new restaurant they planned to open in Great Portland Street, so at 24 he became head chef at Portland and was awarded a Michelin Star within 9 months of opening, the youngest chef in England to be awarded that accolade.


Here are some of the delicious dishes he showed us how to cook.

Merlin Labron-Johnson’s Smoked Cod’s Roe with Grelot Onions or Leek Greens and Chervil

We used spring onion greens instead of grelot tops.


Serves 10-12



1.5pcs smoked cods roe (good quality!) (1kg/2 1/4lb approx.)

3 slices white bread, crusts removed and soaked in milk

2 peeled and crushed garlic cloves

lemon juice of 2 lemons

lemon zest of 1 lemon

100ml (3 1/2fl oz) olive oil

250ml (9fl oz) sunflower oil


Grelot top green oil

400g (14oz) grelot tops or leek greens

650ml (1 pint 2fl oz) sunflower oil


Mustard Seeds

600g (1 1/4lb) white wine vinegar

400g (14oz) water

200g (7oz) sugar

400g (14oz) yellow mustard seeds





First make the mustard seeds pickle:  Pour boiling pickle over mustard seeds and leave for 12 hours


Remove the roe from the sacks and discard the sacks. Using a food processor blend the roe with the garlic, bread and the lemon zest. Slowly incorporate the oil bit by bit to make a smooth thick mayonnaise like emulsion. If it becomes too thick let down with a little of the milk used to soak the bread. Season with salt and lemon juice. Pass through a drum sieve if not completely smooth and put in piping bags. It should be thick and velvety.


Grelot onions or leek greens

Separate the onion bulbs from the green tops. Reserve the green tops and set aside. Place the onion bottoms in parchment or tin foil envelopes with a pinch of salt and a glug of olive oil and close ‘en papillote’ bake at 180C for 12-15 minutes until cooked but not soft. If the onions are different sizes divide them into 3 different ‘grades’ and cook them all separately in batches (i.e. longer for the larger ones) so that they are all perfect.



Roughly chop the green tops and blend with the oil in a food processor on full speed for 4 minutes then strain through cheesecloth and leave to hang in the fridge. Freeze the strained oil. Once frozen scrape the frozen oil (gel) into a new container leaving behind the frozen leek/water residue. This will give you a perfectly clear green oil


To Serve

To serve, pipe large blobs (equivalent of 3 tablespoons) into a bowl, use a spoon to create a well in the centre of the cod’s roe. Put 2 tablespoons of onion oil in the well. Dress the onion petals in the white wine vinegar and place around the edge of the cod’s roe. Place a generous amount of chervil over the onion petals and serve.


Merlin Labron-Johnson’s Crudo of Wild Sea Bass, Smoked Cream and Heritage Radishes

If you are unable to get wild sea bass you could substitute it with brill, turbot, halibut, large plaice or sea bream.


Serves 6-8


300g (10oz) thick sea bass fillet, skinned and pin boned

100g (3 1/2oz) salt

100g (3 1/2oz) sugar

1 bunch heritage radishes

200g (7oz) best quality crème fraiche

1 large shallot, finely diced

1 lemon


raspberry powder


Mix the salt with the sugar and sprinkle a layer on a tray place the sea bass fillet on top and sprinkle with the rest of the cure. Leave for 30 minutes then wash thoroughly in cold water. Dry in a towel.


Cold smoke the cream using a commercial smoker or big green egg. Mix with the chopped shallot, the juice and zest of the lemon and a little sea salt.


Thinly slice the radishes on a mandolin. Slice the fish as thinly as possible using a very sharp knife. Lay the slices on a cold plate in a circle. Cover the fish with the smoked cream. Cover the layer of cream completely with the sliced radishes, then dust with raspberry powder.



Merlin Labron-Johnson’s Lightly Cured Wild Trout with Elderflowers, Unripe Peach and Watercress

Serves 8-10

1kg (2 1/4lb) wild trout fillet, skinned and pin boned

15g (1/2oz) salt

10g (1/3oz) sugar

2 lemons


elderflower vinegar (white wine vinegar infused with lots of elderflowers and elderflower branches)

100g (3 1/2oz) homemade yoghurt, hung overnight it muslin cloth to remove excess whey.

2 unripe peaches

150g (5oz) small watercress

good quality extra virgin olive oil

sea salt


Mix the 15g salt, 10g sugar and zest of 1 lemon together and sprinkle over and underneath the trout fillet/s. Use your hands to rub the cure into the fish to make sure it is evenly distributed. Leave for 10-12 hours in a fridge. Use a clean cloth or kitchen towel to wipe the fish fillets dry and remove any remaining cure. Taste a few slices of the fish to check for seasoning. Wrap the fish in a clean cloth.


Season the yoghurt with salt and a little lemon juice.


To serve, cut the fish into slices (a little thicker than sashimi or carpaccio but not too much!) and place on a cold, flat plate. Put a few dollops of the seasoned yoghurt onto the plates. Slice the peaches on a sharp mandolin and arrange on and around the trout slices. Dress the watercress with elderflower vinegar and olive oil and add to the plate. Sprinkle with lots of fresh elderflowers, grated lemon zest, sea salt and generous amounts of good olive oil.



Merlin Labron-Johnson’s  Ricotta Gnudi with Courgettes, Walnut and Nasturtium

 Serves 6-8

350g (12oz) smooth, thick Ricotta cheese (Galbani can work) left to hang in muslin cloth overnight

30g (1 1/4oz) parmesan, finely grated using a microplane

1 egg yolk

grated nutmeg

1kg (2 1/4lb) semolina

4 x green courgettes

1 large yellow courgettes, sliced into thin rounds using a mandolin

100g (3 1/2oz) spinach leaves

1 onion

olive oil

nasturtium leaves and flowers

30g (1 1/4oz) walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped


Put the ricotta in a mixing bowl. Add the egg yolk, grated cheese and season with a little grated nutmeg. Mix well using a wooden spoon.


Put some 1/3 of the semolina in a large plastic container ensuring there is an even layer on the bottom. Using your hands, roll the Ricotta mix into ping pong sized balls and place directly onto the layer of semolina ensuring there is a distance of at least 1cm between each one. Cover the Gnudi with the remainder of the semolina ensuring that they are completely buried with semolina in between and on top of each ball. Place in the fridge for a minimum of 16-24 hours.


Peel the green courgettes and reserve the peel. Cut the flesh into cubes, 1cm approx.., and sweat slowly in olive oil until soft taking care not to add ANY COLOUR! Leave to cool. Boil the Courgettes skins in salted for 1 minute and refresh in iced water. Boil the spinach in the same water for 30 seconds and refresh in iced water. Drain the spinach and courgette skins and place in a blender with the courgette flesh. Blend on full speed with 4 ice cubes until very smooth and very green. It should have the consistency of a thin puree/thick soup. Loosen with a little water if necessary and season with salt.


To serve, boil the Gnudi in boiling water for 3-4 minutes and dress with a little olive oil. Warm the yellow courgettes slices in a small pan with a little water, olive oil and lemon juice until they start to go translucent (just cooked) and season with salt. Warm the courgette puree and place in the bottom of a warm bowl. Place the Gnudi on top of the puree and top some chopped walnuts. Cover the Gnudi in the slices of yellow courgette and decorate with lots of nasturtium leaves and nasturtium flowers.



Merlin Labron-Johnson’s Buttermilk Ice-Cream with Meringue, Raw Honey and Wild Flowers

 Serves 8-10

150g (5oz) cream

142g (scant 5oz) sugar

75g (3oz) glucose powder

120g (scant 4 1/2oz) milk powder

4g (scant 1/5oz) salt

750ml buttermilk

170g (scant 6oz) icing sugar

160g (5 1/2oz) egg white

1 tablespoon dried or fresh lavender flowers

80g (3 1/4oz) raw fresh honey

35ml (scant 1 1/2fl oz) elderflower vinegar

5g (1/5oz) fresh elderflowers

selection of edible flowers


To make the ice cream, boil the sugar with the cream. Leave to cool. Using a hand blender add the glucose powder, milk powder and salt. Add the mixture to the buttermilk, mix well again using a hand blender. Pass through a sieve and churn in an ice cream maker. (This makes just under 1 litre. The recipe can be multiplied according to the size of ice cream machine)


To make the meringue put the egg white in the bowl of a kitchen aid with a squeeze of lemon juice, using the whisk attachment, whisk slowly until the meringue starts to form very soft peaks. Start to add the icing sugar, one spoon at a time until you have a thick glossy meringue. Using a spatula spread the meringue over non-stick parchment paper so that it is flat and evenly spread. It should be the thickness of a £1 coin. Sprinkle with the lavender flowers. Place in an oven at 70 degrees with low fan and leave to dry until crisp and easy to remove from the paper in large shards. Place the shards in an airtight container.


Warm the honey and add the elderflower vinegar and fresh elderflowers. Season with a squeeze of lemon juice depending on the sweetness of the honey.


To serve, put a few scoops of ice cream into very cold bowls (preferably stored in the freezer for 30 mins before serving) and decorate with shards of meringue, add lots of wild flowers and drizzle over the warm dressing of honey and elderflower vinegar.


Recently I went all the way to China … The impetus for the trip was the news that my last book Grow Cook Nourish had been shortlisted for a World Gourmand Cookbook award. It was up against stiff competition including Stephanie Alexander’s ‘Kitchen Garden Companion’ and Oprah Winfrey’s ‘Food, Health and Happiness’… I reckoned that my tome urging people to take back control over their food, grow some of their own and cook it, wouldn’t have a chance. Nonetheless it was an excuse to spend a few days doing some edible research in China and surprise, surprise, Grow Cook Nourish WON a special award and my publisher Kyle Cathie received the Publisher of the Year Award so that was definitely the ‘icing on the cake’ …..

On this trip we took in Beijing, Datong, Pingyao and Yantai where the awards were hosted.

Yes, I walked on the Great Wall of China, visited the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, The Summer Garden and the totally awesome Hanging Temples near Mount Hengshan in the Shanxi Province but in this piece, I’ll concentrate on the food and the many good things we tasted.

The pace of change, in virtually all Chinese cities is just jaw dropping, most of the traditional single or double storey houses have been demolished to make way for gigantic skyscrapers 28-30 stories tall, the horizon is dotted with the tallest cranes I’ve ever seen.


Peking duck is the great speciality of Beijing. Of course there are a myriad of restaurants who serve it, Mongolian hot pot too, but if you have a craving for McDonald’s or KFC they are there aplenty, however I’m always on a mission to taste the local street foods and so far, they are still a part of everyday life, even in Beijing where it seems there is a huge push towards all things Western. A wander through a local vegetable market is also an illuminating window into local culture and eating habits. One of Beijing’s most fascinating is the Sanyvanli Market, opens at 6am and has stall after stall of beautiful super fresh vegetables and exotic fruit, mangosteen,  durian, lychees, pomelo, also ripe mangoes and huge hard scary grapes, some round, others pointy. All the fruit and vegetables were beautifully presented and packed including, boxes of spanking fresh waxberries (myrica rubra) also called Chinese bayberry, all juicy and delicious.

Stalls were piled high with fish and shellfish, scallops, sea urchins, crabs, lobsters, crayfish, much of it still alive.


Butcher shops selling freshly slaughtered meat, black and white skinned poultry and tons of offal. A wild mushroom stall with a mind-blowing selection of fungi including cauliflower mushrooms the size of a baby’s head.  Two little bakeries, making Chinese flat breads, were nestled among the stalls. I loved watching them rolling huge rounds of dough – 2 feet in diameter and cooking it on a hot griddle, sometimes plain but often with chopped scallions or garlic chives incorporated. I took a little video so I can experiment, it was so delicious, I hope I can manage to recreate this popular breakfast bread at home.

The night markets are also a must, there are many but we visited the one just off Wangfujing Street, Beijing’s posh shopping street where all the luxury brand shops cluster. This area really comes to life after sun down.

Here I ate scorpion kebabs and crispy silk worms, surprisingly delicious once you grit your teeth and decide to be adventurous. Lots of offal, squid and dumplings, chicken feet and gizzards and tiny toffee apples- a Beijing speciality. Lamb kebabs were also delicious but a roast goat (kid) leg with cumin and chilli was the best of all. This market was fun but a bit touristy.

Street food vendors are still a vital part of everyday life in China. Dough stacks, youtiao, snacks like scallion pancakes, Jianbing . Sweet potatoes roasted in old cooking oil drums are also delectable.

Don’t leave China without attending a tea ceremony, a wonderful ritual after which tea will never be the same again. We tasted ginseng, jasmine and gunpowder tea and puer, exquisite but sadly the teas I bought having been assured that they were identical quality were anything but – sadly a frequent occurrence in China, from taxis to restaurants. Follow the guidebooks advice, insist on using the taxi meter and check your bill meticulously…..otherwise a brilliant and delicious experience.

Fuchsia Dunlop’s Fisherman’s Prawns with Chinese Chives

This is based in a dish I enjoyed eating in Yueyang, where it is made with small river shrimp, cooked in their shells. I’ve adapted the recipe to be made with shelled prawns, which have a different texture, but are still delicious (prawns and Chinese chives are a particularly happy combination). If you want a glossy, restaurant – style sauce, add a little stock at the end of cooking and thicken with a mixture of potato flour and water.


500g (1lb 2oz) fresh or frozen raw prawns, thawed if frozen

100g (3½ oz) Chinese chives

2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic

1 tablespoon shopped salted chillies or 1 teaspoon dries chilli flakes

1 teaspoon Chinkiang vinegar

1 fresh red chilli de-seeded and thinly sliced.


1 teaspoon sesame oil

200ml (7fl oz) groundnut oil for cooking


For the marinade:

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon potato flour

1 small egg white


Shell and de-vein the prawns, removing and discarding the heads and legs, if necessary, then rinse and shake dry. Put them in a bowl; add the marinade an ingredients and mix well; set aside.


Trim the chives, discarding any tougher or wilted leaves (they should be pert and fresh) and cut into 3cm / 1¼ pieces.


Heat the oil in a wok over a high flame until it reaches 150°C/300°F. Discard any excess egg white from the prawns, then add them to the wok and fry briefly until pinkish but not fully cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.


Drain off all but 3 tablespoons of the oil. Add the garlic and chopped salted chillies and stir fry briefly until fragrant. Add the prawns, stirring well, followed by the vinegar.


When all is sizzling and delicious, add the chives and fresh chilli and stir-fry until they are barely cooked. Season with salt to taste, then remove from the heat, stir in the sesame oil and serve.



A similar recipe uses finely chopped garlic stems instead of Chinese chives; the method is the same except that you stir fry the garlic stems with the ginger and chopped salted chillies until fragrant before adding the prawns.

From Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook by Fuchsia Dunlop


Scrambled Eggs with Shrimps and Coriander

In Beijing this was served with rice but I enjoy it with hot buttered toast or fresh soda bread.


Serves 4

8 organic eggs

175g to 225g (6oz to 8oz) cooked small shrimps


good pinch of chilli flakes (optional)

a  knob of lard or butter

2 tablespoons full cream milk

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh coriander, coarsely chopped or Chinese (garlic) chives


Break the eggs into a bowl, add the milk and season with salt and pepper. Whisk well until the whites and yolks are mixed well. Over a low heat, put a blob of lard or butter into a cold saucepan, add the chilli flakes (if using), pour in the egg mixture and stir continuously, preferably with a flat-bottomed wooden spoon, until the eggs have scrambled into soft creamy curds. Add in the cooked shrimp, coriander or chopped Chinese (garlic) chives.

Serve immediately on warm plates with lots of hot buttered toast or fresh soda bread.





Fuchsia Dunlop’s Quick Fried Lamb


The city of Liuyang lies on the banks of the Liuyang River, amid gentle, wooded hills to the east of the Hunanese capital. There ‘the mountains are beautiful, the water is beautiful and the people are even more beautiful’ (shan mei, shui mei, ren geng mei), so they say. Although the two cities are no more than 50 miles apart, Liuyang has its own distinctive character and its people speak a dialect that is incomprehensible to the inhabitants of Changsha. Liuyang is a world centre of firework production, and is known poetically in Chinese as ‘the home of smoke-flowers’ (yan hua zhi xiang)


A meal in Liuyang, like its most famous product, is an explosion of glittering colours; the lovely green of fresh soybeans, the brilliant red of fresh or pickled chilies, the warm sunset of a pumpkin soup. I remember one day, when grey mist had reclaimed the hills, sitting around a table laden with dishes as torrential rain rattled on the rooftops outside and thunder cracked the sky. This is one of the dishes we ate, a colourful stir-fry traditionally make with one of Liuyang’s famous products, the black goat (hei shan yang), but which works equally well with lamb.


300g (10½ oz) lamb, lean and boneless

1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine

1 teaspoon 0light soy sauce

½ teaspoon dark soy sauce

¼ teaspoon salt, plus extra to taste

2 fresh red chilies or ½ red pepper

75g (2 ½ oz) fresh coriander or Chinese celery

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger

2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic

1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (optional)

1 tablespoon finely chopped Chinese Angelica Root (optional)

1 teaspoon sesame oil

3 tablespoons groundnut oil for cooking


Cut the lamb across the grain into thin slices. Place the slices in a bowl; add the Shaoxing wine, soy sauces and salt and mix well; set aside.


Cut the red chilies into thins slices (if using red pepper, cut into small squares.) Cut the coriander stalks or celery into 5cm (2 in) sections. Reserve some leaves for a garnish and set the other leaves for other uses.


Heat the wok over a high flame until smokes rises, then add the ground nut oil and swirl around. Add the ginger, garlic, fresh chilli or pepper, chilli flakes and angelica root, if using and stir fry briefly until fragrant.


Add the lamb and continue to stir fry adding salt to taste, if necessary. When the lamb is almost cooked, add the coriander or celery and stir a few times until barely cooked. Turn off the heat, stir in the sesame oil and serve with coriander leaf garnish if desired.



The same method can also be used to cook beef.

From Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook by Fuchsia Dunlop


Kei Lum’s and Diora Fong Chan’s Pork with Beijing Scallions a quick dish from China: The Cookbook.

This one comes from the Shanding region

Serves 4


300g (11oz) pork belly, sliced into lardons

1 tablespoon cornflour

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 Beijing scallions or 6 scallions (Spring onions) cut into 3cm (1/4 inch) lengths

1 tablespoons Tianmianjiang (sweet bean sauce)

1 teaspoon light soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine

½ teaspoon salt, plus extra to taste

steamed rice


Combine the pork with cornflour in a bowl, and then stir in 1 tablespoon oil.


Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a wok or large skillet/frying pan. Add the pork and stir-fry over a medium-low heat for 4-6 minutes until cooked and crisp. Transfer the pork to a plate and set aside.


Put the scallions into the wok and stir-fry over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the Tianmianjiang, soy sauce, wine, salt and the pork, stir-fry over high heat for another minute. Season with salt and taste. Serve with steamed rice.

From China: The Cookbook by Kei Lum and Diora Fong Chan published by Phaidon

 Congee with Chicken, Shrimps, Mushroom and lots of Coriander

Congee is a rice porridge – a staple breakfast food often eaten with dough sticks to dunk, in China and Hong Kong.  I also love it as a soup – vary the additions or add some extra tasty titbits at the table.


Serves 4-6


250g jasmine rice (well-washed and drained)

2 litres water

100g raw or cooked shrimps

100g shredded raw chicken breast

1 teaspoon ginger

1 chilli, thinly sliced, optional

100g thinly sliced mushrooms (cooked)

Vegetable oil for frying

1-2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons spring onion, sliced thinly at an angle

2 tablespoons coriander leaves

Salt and freshly ground pepper



Put the rice into a saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the rice is cooked and slightly soupy.  Add the finely shredded chicken and shrimps, ginger and chilli to the rice, cook for 4-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, sauté the mushrooms on a hot pan in a very little vegetable oil.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.   Add to the soup, drizzle with sesame oil and sprinkle with spring onion and coriander leaves.   Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary.  Serve this comforting nourishing soup as soon as possible.

From Grow, Cook, Nourish by Darina Allen, published by Kyle Books.





La Grotta Ices


Kitty Travers, La Grotta Ices book has arrived just in time for us to catch some of the early Summer flavours that the undisputed ice-cream queen has captured in recipes that you and I can make right now. Forget the hackneyed flavours and scary colours we’ve become accustomed to,  think rhubarb and raspberry, rhubarb and angelica, blackcurrant leaf water ice, strawberry and elderflower, amalfi lemon jelly ice…

I first came across Kitty selling ice-cream from her little ice-cream cart in Maltby Street Market in 2009 You could choose either a cone or a little tub with a timber scoop. The flavours sang of Summer, the combinations original and the texture deliciously silky.

Kitty came to the Ballymaloe Cookery School in 2012 to share her magic and the story of how an ice-cream obsessed teenager eventually got to follow her dream. (It’s all in the introduction of La Grotta Ices). She brought her pacojet all the way from London by plane so she could show us how she achieved this enticingly smooth texture. A pacojet gives sublime results but you don’t need an expensive machine to make home-made ice-creams and sorbets and granitas. A freezer is of course essential, one can just freeze the mix in a bowl but you’ll need to whisk the icy granules every 30 to 40 minutes. Possible, but definitely a bit laboursome, so next step up is one of those ice-cream machines where you store the ‘churn’ in the freezer overnight before use. Many of the ‘small appliance’ electrical companies make them. They are inexpensive and certainly worth the expense if you enjoy making ice creams and sorbets.

An ice cream machine like Gaggia is more expensive and ever ready but difficult to justify the expense unless you do a lot of entertaining or have a small restaurant or café. Whichever option you choose you’ll need some superb recipes and beautiful ingredients.

The very best rich milk and cream, Jersey, Kerry or Guernsey are beautiful. Super ripe fruit, in season, vanilla extract – nothing fake.  No milk powder to make the texture creamier and more dense. No dextrose or trimoline to allow the ice-cream (or gelato, the Italian word for ice cream) to be more scoopable.

In Kitty’s opinion dry milk powder has a cooked taste that interrupts the sweet pure flavour of fresh cream and milk. It contains roughly 50% lactose compared with fresh milk which is 4.8%.

Skimmed milk powder is a prevalent ingredient in many processed foods even yoghurt, consequently many of us are consuming lactose in much higher quantities than we used to. Kitty wonders if that could be connected to the growing incidence of lactose intolerance – an interesting question…


Many of Kitty’s ice creams are made on custard flavoured bases, cooked to no higher than 82°C and then ‘aged’ overnight in a refrigerator at 4°C for at least four hours or better still overnight. Others are made just from milk with maybe a little cream and some tapioca or corn flour. All can be easily reproduced in a home kitchen.


Kitty is forever on the lookout for new flavours and flavour combinations. Carrot seed or green walnut apparently make a delicious ice-cream as do pea pods. Sounds unlikely but cucumber and sour cream is one of her customer’s favourite Summer ices – I love it too…

Kitty started in her own kitchen; she now has an Ice-Cream Shed in a converted greengrocers in a charming square in south London. She sells her ice-cream in just three shops in London, Leilas in Calvert Avenue, The General Store in Peckham and and E5 Bakehouse in Hackney. Kitty teaches ice cream classes at School of Artisan Foods in Nottinghamshire, but meanwhile rush out and buy Kitty’s book La Grotta Ices so you can enjoy all the flavours of Summer but there are many more delicious flavour combinations for every season – mare than just chocolate

La Grotta Cucumber and Sour Cream

Novelty ice creams are fun to try the first time but unless you want to lick the bowl clean they don’t get added to my list of favourites. Nobody needs to have uneaten ice cream languishing in the freezer getting fish finger-y and frosty. Freezer space is important – you need some room for peas and ice cubes too!

I promise, though, that this recipe is no fad. It’s the most refreshing and pacifying of all ice cream flavours – what could be cooler? It has become a summer tradition, looked forward to – and not just by me.

Salting the cucumber first draws out excess water, concentrates the flavour and improves the texture of the ice cream. The salt should be barely discernable in the end result though. Incredible combined with Strawberry Salad and Dill Seed ice creams or on its own on a really sweaty day.


1 cucumber (about 500 g), home-grown or from a farmers’ market if possible (less watery)

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

325 ml whole milk

2 whole eggs

150 g sugar

300 ml sour cream


To prepare the ice cream: first peel your cucumber – use a vegetable peeler to remove all of the tough green skin. Cut the cucumber in half lengthways and use a teaspoon to scrape out and discard the watery seeds. Dice the cucumber halves then toss them in a bowl with the sea salt. Tip into a colander in the sink to drip. After 20 minutes, rinse the cucumbers briefly in a bowl of cold water and set on a clean tea towel to drain. Chill in the fridge in a lidded container overnight.


Heat the milk in a non-reactive pan. Stir often using a whisk or silicone spatula to prevent it catching. Once the milk is steaming, whisk the whole eggs and sugar together in a separate bowl until combined.


Pour the hot milk over the eggs in a thin stream, whisking continuously. Return all the mix to the pan and cook over a low heat until it reaches 82°C, stirring all the time to avoid curdling the eggs, and keeping a close eye on it so as not to let it boil. As soon as your digital thermometer says 82°C, place the pan into a sink of iced water to cool. Add the sour cream to the custard and whisk it in – you can speed up the cooling process by stirring the mix every so often. Once the custard is at room temperature, scrape it into a clean container, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge.


To make the ice cream: the following day the cucumber will have expelled more water; pour this away then blitz the cucumber and custard together in a blender. Blitz for 2 – 3 minutes until very, very smooth – you don’t want any frozen lumps of cucumber in this ice cream. Use a small ladle to push the cucumber custard through a finemesh sieve or chinois into a clean container.


Pour the custard into an ice cream machine and churn according to the machine’s instructions, usually 20 – 25 minutes, or until frozen and the texture of stiff whipped cream.


Scrape the ice cream into a suitable lidded container. Top with a piece of waxed paper to limit exposure to air. Cover and freeze until ready to serve. Best eaten within a week.

From La Grotta Ices by Kitty Travers, published by Penguin Random House. Photography by Grant Cornett


La Grotta Rhubarb and Raspberry Ripple

This ice cream is prettiest when made with the slim stalks of forced rhubarb from Yorkshire’s magic “Rhubarb Triangle”. The candy-pink sticks transform into clouds of ice cream the colour of bubble-gum.

There’s more to this ice-cream than just retro appeal. The light earthy flavour of the rhubarb is set off with a tart twist of raspberry syrup.


150g frozen strawberries

220g sugar

500g forced rhubarb

zest and juice of 1 orange

175ml whole milk

175ml double cream

pinch of sea salt

3 egg yolks


To make the raspberry syrup: If you have a microwave, put the berries into a heatproof bowl with 60g of the sugar and simply blast them for a minute or two, until the fruit is very lightly cooked. Other-wise put into a pan with a tablespoon of water and simmer just until the raspberries soften and collapse and the sugar dissolves.


Once cooked, leave the berries to cool, and then blitz them with a stick blender. Push the purée through a sieve to remove the pips, squeezing hard to extract as much fruit as possible. Save the pips for pip juice, let the syrup cool and then chill it in the fridge overnight. (A night in the fridge will thicken the syrup considerably).


To make the rhubarb: rinse the rhubarb, top and tail the stalks, then slice into 3cm long pieces and place these into a non-reactive pan or heatproof bowl and add the orange zest and juice. Cook very gently until the fruit collapses, either on the hob or in a microwave. If using a pan keep a lid on and shake the pan every so often to prevent sticking. It should take about 10-15 minutes or 2-3 minutes covered in clingfilm in a microwave. Try to avoid boiling the rhubarb as with a sudden ‘ploof!’ it will quickly become stewed and pale mush. Leave to cool completely and then chill in the fridge.


To prepare the ice-cream: heat the milk, cream and salt together in a non-reactive pan. Stir often using a whisk or silicone spatula to prevent it catching. When the milk is hot, whisk the egg yolks and 160g sugar together until combined.


As the milk reaches simmering point, pour it in a thin stream over the yolks, whisking all the time. Return all the mix to the pan and cook over a low heat until it reaches 82°C, stirring constantly to avoid curdling the eggs; keep a close eye on it so as not to let it boil. As soon as your digital thermometer says 82°C, remove the pan from the heat and place into a sink of iced water to cool – you can speed up the cooling process by stirring it every so often. Once the custard is at room temperature, cover with cling film and chill in fridge.


To make the ice-cream; add the chilled rhubarb to the cold custard and liquidise for 2-3 minutes until absolutely smooth. Push the rhubarb custard through a fine-mesh sieve of chinois into a clean container, discarding any leftover fibres.


Pour into an ice cream machine and churn according to the machine’s instructions, about 20-25 minutes, or until frozen and the texture of whipped cream.


Working quickly, transfer the ice-cream into a suitable lidded container. Do this in layers, adding a generous layer of chilled raspberry syrup at each go then swirling with a spoon for a marbled effect. Top with a piece of waxed paper to limit exposure to air, cover and freeze until ready to serve.


Note- cooked rhubarb always benefits form sitting in the fridge overnight…it seems to intensify and draw out the beautiful pink juice.

From La Grotta Ices by Kitty Travers, published by Penguin Random House. Photography by Grant Cornett


La Grotta Pea Pod Ice-cream

In 2009 I was asked to make an ice cream to sell at the Art Car Boot Fair in London’s Bethnal Green, the theme that year was “recession special”. There were a lot of “credit crunchy” kind of flavours going on among cake bakers, but I wanted to try and make a cheap milk ice out of pea pods (pods are popping with sweet fresh flavour but are usually thrown away, and that seems a shame to waste.) I billed it as 100p ice cream and sold scoops for a pound a pop. It went down a storm and I still make it now in the summer – albeit a slightly more costly custard version. It’s delightful served with fresh strawberries or Garriguette Strawberry ice-cream on the side and a sprinkle of sea salt flakes.


400g very fresh peas in their pods

400ml whole milk

150ml double cream

small pinch of sea salt

4 egg yolks

130g sugar


To prepare the ice cream: wash the peas in their pods and then pod them, reserving the pods. Blanch the fresh podded peas in boiling water for 30 seconds and then refresh them in iced water to preserve their colour; drain and put them in the fridge, covered.


Heat the milk, cream and salt together, stirring occasionally. As soon as the liquid reaches simmering point, add the pea pods and simmer them for 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and blitz the pods and liquidize them with a stick blender for a minute. Strain the mixture through a sieve, squeezing hard on the pods to extract as much flavour from them as possible. Discard the blitzed pea pods.


Wash the pan and pour the fragrant milk and cream mixture back into it. Bring it to a simmer. Stir often using a whisk or silicone spatula to prevent it catching. Once the liquid is hot and steaming, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together in a separate bowl until combined.


Pour the hot liquid over the yolks in a thin stream, whisking continuously. Return all the mix to the pan and cook over a low heat until it reaches 82°C. Stir constantly to avoid curdling the eggs, and keep a close eye on it so as not to let it boil. As soon as your digital thermometer says 82°C, place the pan into a sink of iced water to cool. Speed up the cooling process by stirring the mix every so often. Once the custard is a room temperature, scrape it into a clean container, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge overnight.


To make the ice cream: the following day, add the blanched peas to the custard and liquidise with a stick blender for 2 minutes, or until it turns froggy green. Use a small ladle to push the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to ensure it is perfectly smooth.


Pout the custard into an ice cream machine. Churn according to the machine’s instructions, usually about 20-25 minutes, or until frozen and the texture of whipped cream.


Scrape the ice cream into a suitable lidded container. Top with a piece of waxed paper to limit exposure to air, cover and freeze until ready to serve. Eat within a week.

From La Grotta Ices by Kitty Travers, published by Penguin Random House. Photography by Grant Cornett


La Grotta Sea Salt, Rosemary and Pine Nut

Sadly I can’t make this ice cream that often, because it annoys me too much the way people see the words ‘sea salt’ and literally screech to a halt in front of my ice cream van when it’s on the menu. What is it with sea salt? Sprinkle it on strawberry yoghurt if you love it that much – I’ll be just fine here with all the fresh peach ice cream which no one pays any attention to. Pine nuts though, I can get excited about. I’ve joined Facebook groups for them! Fatty and addictive, with a smokiness that pairs well with sweet and savoury flavours.

In this recipe, liberally salted pine nut brittle is stirred into freshly churned, rosemary scented caramel custard ice cream. I accept it’s utterly delicious. Try it served alongside Roast Chestnut Cremolata


120 g sugar

250 ml double cream

350 ml whole milk

Large pinch of sea salt 6 egg yolks 20 – 25 fresh rosemary leaves

For the pine nut and rosemary brittle

100 g pine nuts

100 g sugar

1 heaped teaspoon glucose syrup (makes caramel easier to manage)

20 g butter

15 g rosemary leaves

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt


To make the pine nut and rosemary brittle: toast the pine nuts over a very low heat in a pan for 10 minutes, until warmed and just coloured, then pour them into a bowl and cover with a clean tea towel to keep them warm.


Heat the sugar, glucose and a tablespoon of water together slowly in a pan until the grains of sugar have dissolved. Swirl the pan to mix; do not stir. Add the butter, bring the mix to the boil and boil steadily until it reaches 150°C on your digital thermometer.

Meanwhile, pick the rosemary leaves, adding them to the bowl of pine nuts along with the baking powder and sea salt, then mix well, ensuring there are no lumps of baking powder. Have a whisk or heat – proof spatula to hand.


As soon as the sugar reaches 150°C, or a dark caramel colour, tip the pine nut mix in and whisk well to combine. The mixture will bubble up because of the baking powder so use a long heatproof spatula or whisk to keep your hands safe from burns. Allow the nuts to toast to a pale gold colour in the caramel, then remove from the heat.


Pour the hot brittle evenly onto a silicone baking mat. Cover with another non-stick baking mat or a double sheet of buttered baking paper, and roll quickly and firmly with a wooden rolling pin to evenly spread the brittle into a half-centimetre layer. Leave to cool.


Break the brittle into large pieces and store between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container, or roughly smash into chunks ready to add to the freshly churned rosemary-caramel ice cream.


To prepare the ice cream: sprinkle the bottom of a heavy-based pan (ideally stainless steel) with 100 g of the sugar in even layer. Place it over a medium heat and cook slowly and without stirring until it begins to melt and caramelise. Swirl the pan to achieve even caramelisation.


Cook the caramel to a dark colour until just smoking, then pour in the cream and milk to stop the cooking process. Add the sea salt and warm the liquids over a medium heat to dissolve the caramel, this may take 10 minutes. Stir but do not boil as you don’t want to evaporate the liquid too much. Once the caramel has dissolved, whisk the remaining 20 g sugar with the egg yolks until combined.


Pour the hot liquid over the yolks in a thin stream, whisking continuously. Return all the mix to the pan and cook over a low heat until it reaches 82°C, stirring all the time to avoid curdling the eggs and keeping a close eye on it so as not to let it boil. As soon as your digital thermometer says 82°C, remove from the heat, add the fresh rosemary leaves and stir them in, then place the pan into a sink of iced water to cool. Speed up the cooling process by stirring the mix every so often. Once the custard is at room temperature, transfer it into a clean container, cover with cling film and chill.


To make the ice cream: the following day, use a small ladle to push the custard through a fine-mesh sieve or chinois into a clean container. Discard the rosemary leaves then liquidise the cold custard with a stick blender for a minute.


Pour the custard into an ice cream machine and churn according to the machine’s instructions until frozen and the texture of whipped cream, about 20 – 25 minutes.


Transfer the ice cream to a suitable lidded container, sprinkling in generous handfuls of crushed pine nut brittle as you go (you will need about half the amount you made). Top with a piece of waxed paper to limit exposure to air, cover and freeze until ready to serve.


Note – just in case you have any left, you can store any extra brittle between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container. I always save silica gel sachets and slip one of these in too for good measure (to help keep the brittle crisp ).

From La Grotta Ices by Kitty Travers, published by Penguin Random House. Photography by Grant Cornett


La Grotta Blackcurrant Leaf Water Ice

Trying the flavour of blackcurrant leaves for the first time is almost like finding out that a new colour exists. It’s a singular perfume…a bit like white acid drops…a bit like green leaves…reminiscent of exciting chemicals.


If this sounds weird, don’t let it put you off. It’s delicious enough to be up there as a fourth flavour, strawberry, chocolate and vanilla pale in comparison.


200g sugar

420ml water

30g blackcurrant leaf tips, freshly picked and rinsed

4 lemons, ideally unwaxed Amalfi


To prepare the water ice: gently heat the sugar and water together in a small pan to make a syrup, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring this syrup to a simmer, then remove it from the heat and add the blackcurrant leaves. Cover the pan with cling film and leave the syrup to cool in an iced water bath for about half an hour.


Zest and juice the lemons. Measure out 250ml of the juice (I’m sure you’ll find something to do with any that’s left over) then add this and the zest to the cool syrup. Stir then strain through a fine-mesh sieve, squeezing to extract as much liquid as possible form the blackcurrant leaves. Chill in the fridge.


To make the water ice: once the mix is chilled, give it a good stir and then pour into an ice cream machine and churn according to the machine’s instructions until frozen and the texture of slushy snow, usually about 20-25 minutes.


Scrape the water ice into a suitable lidded container. Top with a piece of waxed paper to limit exposure to air, cover and freeze until ready to serve.


Note – this is a water ice rather than a sorbet as it doesn’t have the “body” provided by a fruit purée. It will naturally be icy and a little ‘melty’ but intensely refreshing.


Variation – make a delicious refreshing Bunch of Fresh Herbs sorbet by replacing the blackcurrant leaves with 30g fresh soft green herbs or blossoms of your choice. I like to experiment with dill, parsley, basil, chervil, mint or anise hyssop. Even a few honeysuckle, calendula or sweet pea blossoms make a nice addition (maybe not chives). Chop them up finely and add to the hot sugar syrup, then steep for 20 minutes in an ice bath before straining out and proceeding as above.


Alternatively, omit the blackcurrant leaves entirely and follow the method above to make a classic Lemon sorbet. It’s nice to add the fresh zest of 1 lemon to the mix before churning for visual appeal – otherwise real lemon sorbet has the misfortune to look like mashed potatoes.

From La Grotta Ices by Kitty Travers, published by Penguin Random House. Photography by Grant Cornett


La Grotta Peach Leaf Milk Ice


Like a magic trick, peach leaves appear to be completely flavourless until they are scalded in hot milk for a very specific amount of time (see note). At this point they deliver their extraordinary characteristic– the flavour of crisp toasted almond biscuits. Wow your party guests by live demo-ing this ice cream for them. Wow yourself every time you make it at home!


Getting hold of the leaves may prove tricky – I buy bags of them from a stall at Brixton Farmer’s Market, where amazingly a few small knobbly (and slightly green) Sussex-grown peaches are sold each Summer. Or find your own tree: peach trees are notoriously difficult to bear fruit but if you find someone who has a tree they are unlikely to miss a dozen or so leaves if you ask nicely.


This recipe employs the use of a simple milk base, thickened with a natural vegetable starch so as not to interfere with the pure taste of peach leaf. A surprising and refreshing ice, delicious with a side of lightly sugared, sliced stone fruit.


160g sugar

15g tapioca starch or cornflour

550ml while milk

100ml double cream

15-20 fresh peach leaves


To prepare the milk ice: prepare a sink full of iced water, and a timer set to time 3 minutes. Have a clean bowl ready with a fine mesh sieve set over it. In a bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons of the sugar into the tapioca starch or cornflour.


Heat the remaining sugar with the milk and cream in a pan over a low heat, stirring often with a whisk or silicone spatula to prevent it catching. Once the liquid is hot and steaming, pour it into the bowl containing the starch. Whisk constantly to combine it well without lumps forming.


Return all the mix to the pan and cook over a low heat, whisking constantly just until it starts to simmer. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the peach leaves then cover the pan tightly with cling film and place in a sink full of iced water to cool. Start the timer.


After exactly 3 minutes remove the pan and pour the mix through the sieve. Squeeze hard to extract as much flavour as possible from the peach leaves. You should see a tint of pale acid green seep into the mix with the last squeezes. Discard the remaining leaves.


Return the pan to the sink to cool completely before covering and chilling in the fridge overnight.


To make the milk ice: the following day, liquidise the peach leaf mixture with a stick blender for 1 minute; this will help liquefy the mix.


Pour the mix into an ice cream machine. Churn according to the machine’s instructions, about 20-25 minutes, or until frozen and the texture of whipped cream.


Scrape the milk ice into a suitable lidded container. Top with a piece of waxed paper to limit exposure to air, cover and freeze until ready to serve. This ice will keep for a few days but is best eaten straight away – as the recipe contains no egg yolk and very little cream it freezes quite hard and can become icy otherwise.


Note- it’s vital that you use a timer for this so that the peach leaves are steeped for no more than 3 minutes precisely – any longer and the flavour changes completely, to one of over ripe compost.


Variations – make a clean and pure tasting Fig Leaf Milk Ice by following the recipe above and replacing the peach leaves with 2 large or 3 small fresh fig leaves.


Make Pea Pod Milk Ice by simmering 350g shelled pea pods for 3-4 minutes in the milk and cream mixture (before you add the starch), then blitz with a stick blender and strain before returning the mix to a clean pan. Bring to steaming point and then pour over the starch in the bowl and continue as above.

From La Grotta Ices by Kitty Travers, published by Penguin Random House. Photography by Grant Cornett


Myrtle Allen

By the time you read this column on Saturday, the news of Myrtle Allen’s passing will be well known. She was 94 and up to very recently was ‘hale and hearty’ although age had dimmed her brilliant intellect in recent years. What a legacy my beautiful mother-in-law has left us all. Loved by her extended family and staff, her six children and spouses, twenty two grandchildren and thirty six great-grandchildren, virtually all of whom live within forty five minutes of Ballymaloe.

What an inspiration, this gentle woman who couldn’t cook a thing when she got married at the age of nineteen to Ivan Allen, a handsome young farmer from East Cork has been to all of us. They used to joke that they learned ‘a lot’ about each other on their honeymoon, she realised that he played a bridge a lot and he discovered she couldn’t cook at all, so the story goes that he taught her how to scramble eggs when they arrived home to Shanagarry from their honeymoon on Caragh Lake in Co. Kerry.

From then on she was determined to teach herself how to cook, convinced of the importance of delicious wholesome nourishing food for the health and happiness of her family and to delight her husband who loved and appreciated every delicious morsel and encouraged her attempts to master each new recipe.

I love this quote from the Ballymaloe Cookbook which she wrote in 1977, still in print after 41 years. “I was many years married before I first triumphantly put a really good brown soda bread loaf on the tea tables. Of course, this brought me no prose, only a few disillusioned grunts about the pity it was I had taken so long to learn the art!


In 1964 when all of her children except her youngest daughter Fern were boarding in Newtown School in Waterford, she decided to open a restaurant in the dining room of the family home in Ballymaloe House in the midst of a farm in East Cork, an extraordinary thing to do at that time when it was unheard of to open a restaurant outside a town of city. At that time it was called The Yeats Room, because it contained Ivan’s collection of Jack Yeats paintings.  From the beginning, she wrote the menu every day depending on what produce was in season in the garden and on the farm and what lovely fresh fish was landed by the boats in Ballycotton. She cooked and served the food simply so the beautiful fresh flavours of the produce shone through.

She was much loved too by the huge network of farmers and artisan producers, local butchers, cheese makers, fish-smokers, greengrocers and foragers from whom she sourced for Ballymaloe and always made sure they were paid well for producing top quality produce.

Myrtle served children’s tea at Ballymaloe House for all the guest children with home-made lemonade and delicious fresh fish and crispy hand-cut chips and many other really good things that children loved. Before supper she organised for the little ones to collect the freshly laid warm eggs from the nests for their, very own boiled egg with soldiers – many  now ‘grown up’ Ballymaloe Guests have happy memories ….

I’ve just realised the date, June 16th 2018…By sheer coincidence, 50 years ago today, I arrived at Ballymaloe House to work with Myrtle Allen …how fortunate am I that our paths crossed in life. I’ve chosen a few quintessential recipes that will always remind me of Myrtle.

Ballymaloe Chicken Liver Pâté


Serves 10-12 depending on how it is served.


This recipe has certainly stood the test of time, it has been the Pâté Maison at Ballymaloe House since the opening of the restaurant in 1965 but Myrtle also made it for family and guests for many years previous to the opening of The Yeats Room


225g (8oz) fresh organic chicken livers

2 tablespoons) brandy

200-300g (8-12oz) butter (depending on how strong the chicken livers are)

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 large clove garlic, crushed

freshly ground pepper


Clarified Butter to seal the top


Wash the livers in cold water and remove any membrane or green tinged bits. Dry on kitchen paper.

Melt a little butter in a frying pan; when the butter foams add in the livers and cook over a gentle heat.  Be careful not to overcook them or the outsides will get crusty; all trace of pink should be gone.   Add the crushed garlic and thyme leaves to the pan, stir and then de-glaze the pan with brandy, allow to flame or reduce for 2-3 minutes. Scrape everything with a spatula into a food processor.  Purée for a few seconds.  Allow to cool.


Add 225g (8oz) butter. Purée until smooth.  Season carefully, taste and add more butter, cut into cubes if necessary.


This pâté should taste fairly mild and be quite smooth in texture. Put into pots or into one large terrine.   Tap on the worktop to knock out any air bubbles.


Clarify some butter and spoon a LITTLE over the top of the pâté to seal.

Serve with melba toast or hot white bread.   This pate will keep for 4 or 5 days in a refrigerator.


Watchpoint: It is essential to cover chicken liver Pâté with a layer of clarified or even just melted butter, otherwise the pâté will oxidize and become bitter in taste and grey in colour.


Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread

Many guests will recognise this bread, now synonymous with Ballymaloe House. Myrtle loved to pass on the recipe and techniques of this nourishing loaf that involved no kneading and only one rising and has been a staple on Ballymaloe tables since the 1950’s, well before the start of the restaurant.


Makes 1 loaf


400g (14oz) strong (stone-ground) wholemeal flour plus 50g (2oz) strong white flour

425ml (15floz) water at blood heat

1 teaspoon black treacle or molasses

1 teaspoon salt

20g – 30g (3/4oz – 1oz) fresh non-GM yeast


sesame seeds – optional


1 loaf tin 13x20cm (5x8inch) approx.

sunflower oil


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


Mix the flour with the salt. The ingredients should all be at room temperature. In a small bowl or Pyrex jug, mix the treacle with some of the water, 150ml (5floz/generous 1/2 cup) for 1 loaf and crumble in the yeast.


Sit the bowl for a few minutes in a warm place to allow the yeast to start to work. Meanwhile check to see if the yeast is rising. After about 4 or 5 minutes it will have a creamy and slightly frothy appearance on top.


When ready, stir and pour it, with all the remaining water (9fl oz/275ml), into the flour to make a loose-wet dough. The mixture should be too wet to knead.   Allow to sit in the bowl for 7-10 minutes (time varies depending on room temperature).   Meanwhile, brush the base and sides of the bread tin with a good sunflower oil.  Scoop the mixture into the greased tin. Sprinkle the top of the loaves with sesame seeds if you like. Put the tin in a warm place somewhere close to the cooker or near a radiator perhaps. Cover the tin with a tea towel to prevent a skin from forming. Just as the bread comes to the top of the tin, remove the tea towel and pop the loaves in the oven 230C/450F/Gas Mark 8 for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6 for another 40-50 minutes or until it looks nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped. The bread will rise a little further in the oven. This is called “oven spring”. If however the bread rises to the top of the tin before it goes into the oven it will continue to rise and flow over the edges.


We usually remove the loaf from the tin about 10 minutes before the end of cooking and put them back into the oven to crisp all round, but if you like a softer crust there’s no need to do this.


Note: Dried yeast may be used instead of baker’s yeast. Follow the same method but use only half the weight given for fresh yeast. Allow longer to rise. Fast acting yeast may also be used, follow the instructions on the packet.

Baked Plaice, Dover Sole with Herb Butter

Myrtle devised this recipe for cooking the Summer plaice from Ballycotton on the bone for maximum flavour. It could be served with or without a herb butter or a rich sauce.

This is a very simple but inspired ‘master recipe’ for plaice and sole but also for all very fresh flat fish, e.g. brill, turbot, dabs, flounder and lemon sole.   Depending on the size of the fish, it can a starter or a main course. Needless to say it is also delicious with Hollandaise Sauce.


Serves 4


4 very fresh plaice or sole on the bone

Herb Butter

2-4 ozs (50-110g/1/2 – 1 stick) butter

4 teaspoons mixed finely-chopped fresh parsley, chives, fennel and thyme leaves

salt and freshly ground pepper


Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/regulo 5.


Turn the fish on its side and remove the head.  Wash the fish and clean the slit very thoroughly.  With a sharp knife, cut through the skin right round the fish, just where the ‘fringe’ meets the flesh.  Be careful to cut neatly and to cross the side cuts at the tail or it will be difficult to remove the skin later on.


Sprinkle the fish with salt and freshly-ground pepper and lay them in 1cm (1/2 inch) of water in a shallow baking tin.   Bake in a moderately hot oven for 20-30 minutes according to the size of the fish.  The water should have just evaporated as the fish is cooked.  Check to see whether the fish is cooked by lifting the flesh from the bone at the head; it should lift off the bone easily and be quite white with no trace of pink.


Meanwhile, melt the butter and stir in the freshly-chopped herbs.  Just before serving catch the skin down near the tail and pull it off gently (the skin will tear badly if not properly cut).  Lift the fish onto hot plates and spoon the herb butter over them.  Serve immediately.





My mother-in-law, Myrtle Allen, made these for her children, and has passed on the recipe to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They’ve also been a favourite at children’s tea at Ballymaloe for over 50 years. They cook into funny little shapes, uneven in texture, and can look like little monsters which amuses the children and create lots of fun.


Makes about 10 balloons


150g (5oz/generous 1 cup) white flour

2 teaspoons caster sugar

pinch of salt

1 level teaspoon baking powder

200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) or more full-cream milk

extra caster sugar or cinnamon sugar (granulated sugar mixed with a little ground cinnamon) to coat


Sieve the dry ingredients into a bowl. Mix to a thick batter (dropping consistency) with milk.


Preheat a deep-fryer to 190°C (385°F).


Take a heaped teaspoonful of the mixture and push it gently off with your finger so that it drops in a round ball into the fat. Fry until puffed and golden. Remove and drain. Repeat the process until you have used up all the batter.


Roll the balloons in caster sugar or cinnamon sugar and serve at once.


Delicious with sweet apple sauce flavoured with a little cinnamon, and a bowl of pastry cream for dipping.



Ballymaloe Ice Bowl

I remember how thrilled Myrtle was when her attempts to make an ice bowl to keep the ice cream chilled on their famous sweet trolley at Ballymaloe House was finally successful.

“It took me twelve years to find the solution to keeping ice cream cold on the sweet trolley in my restaurant.   At first we used to unmould and decorate our ices on to a plate.  This was alright on a busy night when they got eaten before melting.  On quieter occasions the waitresses performed relay races from the dining-room to the deep freeze.  I dreamed about 19th Century ice boxes filled from ice houses, to my husband’s increasing scorn, and then I thought I had a solution.   A young Irish glass blower produced beautiful hand-blown glass cylinders which I filled with ice-cream and fitted into beautiful tulip shaped glass bowls.  These I filled with ice cubes.  Six months later, however, due to either the stress of the ice or the stress of the waitresses, my bowls were gone and so was my money.


In desperation I produced an ice bowl.  It turned out to be a stunning and practical presentation for a restaurant trolley or a party buffet”


To make a Ballymaloe Ice Bowl

Take two bowls, one about double the capacity of the other.   Half fill the big bowl with cold water.   Float the second bowl inside the first.   Weight it down with water or ice cubes until the rims are level.  Place a square of fabric on top and secure it with a strong rubber band or string under the rim of the lower bowl, as one would tie on a jam pot cover.   Adjust the small bowl to a central position.   The cloth holds it in place.   Put the bowls on a Swiss roll tin and place in a deep freeze, if necessary re-adjusting the position of the small bowl as you put it in.   After 24 hours or more take it out of the deep freeze.


Remove the cloth and leaves for 15-20 minutes, by which time the small bowl should lift out easily.   Then try to lift out the ice-bowl.  It should be starting to melt slightly from the outside bowl, in which case it will slip out easily.  If it isn’t, then just leave for 5 or 10 minutes more, don’t attempt to run it under the hot or even cold tap, or it may crack.  If you are in a great rush, the best solution is to wring out a tea-towel in hot water and wrap that around the large bowl for a few minutes.   Altogether the best course of action is to perform this operation early in the day and then fill the ice bowl with scoops of ice-cream, so that all you have to do when it comes to serving the ice-cream is to pick up the ice bowl from the freezer and place it on the serving dish.   Put a folded serviette under the ice bowl on the serving dish to catch any drips.


At Ballymaloe, Myrtle Allen surrounds the ice bowl with vine leaves in Summer, scarlet Virginia creeper in Autumn and red-berried holly at Christmas.  However, as you can see I’m a bit less restrained and I can’t resist surrounding it with flowers!


However you present it, ice-cream served in a bowl of ice like this usually draws gasps of admiration when you bring it to the table.


In the restaurant we make a new ice-bowl every night, but at home when the dessert would be on the table for barely half an hour, it should be possible to use the ice bowl several times.  As soon as you have finished serving, give the bowl a quick wash under the cold tap and get it back into the freezer again.  This way you can often get 2 or 3 turns from a single ice bowl.



Don’t leave a serving spoon resting against the side of the bowl or it will melt a notch in the rim.


Carrageen Moss Pudding


Myrtle’s recipe for Carrageen Moss pudding is the very best… Light delicate and super nutritious. It is still served in Ballymaloe every evening with a seasonal fruit compote and softly whipped cream.

Serves 6


7g (1⁄4oz) cleaned, well-dried carrageen moss (1 semi-closed fistful)

900ml (1 1⁄2 pints/3 3/4 pints) whole milk

1 vanilla pod or 1⁄2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 organic egg

1 tablespoon caster sugar


To Serve

soft brown sugar and softly whipped cream or a compote of fruit in season


Soak the carrageen in a little bowl of tepid water for 10 minutes. It will swell and increase in size. Strain off the water and put the carrageen into a saucepan with the milk and the vanilla pod, if using. Bring to the boil and simmer very gently, covered, for 20 minutes. At that point and not before, separate the egg, put the yolk into a bowl, add the sugar and vanilla extract, if using, and whisk together for a few seconds, then pour the milk and carrageen moss through a strainer onto the egg yolk mixture, whisking all the time. By now the carrageen remaining in the strainer will be

swollen and exuding jelly. You need as much of this as possible through the strainer and whisk it into the egg and milk mixture. Test for a set in a saucer as one would with gelatine.


Whisk the egg white stiffly and fold or fluff it in gently; it will rise to make a fluffy top. Serve chilled with soft brown sugar and cream, or with a compote of fruit in season.

How To Eat a Peach

Shaved fennel, celery and apple salad with pomegranates and hazelnuts;

Onglet with roast beets and horseradish cream;

Blood oranges and aperol jelly;

Rhubarb, marmalade and rosemary cake….

How tempting and lip-smackingly good does that sound. Well it all comes from Diana’s Henry’s latest book “How To Eat a Peach…” Diana is fast shaping up to be many peoples favourite cookery writer. Not only has she a particularly wonderful way with words but she has a natural gift for creating beautiful balanced menus that delight rather than merely ‘stuff’ the diner.


Diana has been intrigued by menus since she was in her mid-teens. At sixteen she bought an ‘exercise copy book’, covered it carefully with brown paper and began to transcribe menu ideas – she still has the book.


I loved the stories in her introduction to “How To Eat a Peach…” Her parents didn’t have dinner parties but regularly had people in for “good food and craic”, dancing to Nancy Sinatra and a shot or two of Bushmills or Vat 69.

Diana threw her first ‘dinner party’ in her late teens, she planned carefully the menu, invited her school friends who were intrigued by the candlelight in the room “Are we going to celebrate Mass” and thought she was going well over the top when she served pineapple ice.


Diana continued to pour over food magazines and books, cook, travel and put lots of effort into edible research, even pouring longingly over the menu displayed in the glass cases outside restaurants when she couldn’t afford to eat there.

I particularly loved the story about “Sally Clarke’s restaurant – “I used to get the tube on a Monday night to go and see what Sally had planned for the week. I’d stand there, sometimes in the rain, with a little torch, writing down her menus in a notebook. I rarely ate at Clarke’s (I was in my first job and it was expensive), but I felt as if I ate there all the time.


Diana and I share many influences, she too, admires and is inspired by Alice Waters and her philosophy of beautiful fresh produce simply served.

Diana’s research has taken her from Belfast to France, the Breton Coast, Bordeaux on to Manhattan, Morocco…

Her menus reflects her travels, beautiful simple food… So many things I’m tempted to cook from How to Eat a Peach, check it out but here are a few tasters to whet your appetite…


Diana Henry’s Elderflower Gin & Tonic

This drink is local and seasonal to me, in Britain, in early summer, so it seems a perfect way to start a meal that honours this philosophy.


makes 500ml (18fl oz) gin

for the elderflower gin

20 just-picked elderflower heads

500ml (18fl oz) gin

5 tablespoons caster sugar


to serve

tonic water, lime slices and mint sprigs

Shake the elderflowers gently to dislodge any little bugs that might be hiding in them. Pour the gin into a big preserving jar and add the flowers and the sugar. Close the jar and shake it every day for 1 week.


Strain the mixture through a sieve lined with some muslin or a brand new J-cloth, then bottle.


Put some of the elderflower gin in glasses with ice. Top up with tonic and add lime slices and mint sprigs.

How To Eat a Peach by Diana Henry is published by Mitchell Beazley






Diana Henry’s Salad of Fennel, Celery and Apple Salad with Pomegranates and Hazelnuts

This might seem very humble before a resplendent pasta dish, but that’s the point. It’s clean and plain and a real appetite opener. Don’t make it too far in advance, though, as the fennel and apples lose their freshness.


Serves 6

2 small fennel bulbs

2 small eating apples

juice of 1 lemon

2 celery sticks, with leaves if possible, washed and trimmed.

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard

sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

seeds from ½ pomegranate

15g (½oz) halved hazelnuts, toasted

Quarter the fennel, trim the tops and the bases and remove any coarse outer leaves. If there are any little fronds, remove and reserve them.


Quarter and core the apples. Don’t leave any of this sitting around to discolour: prepare and assemble the salad quickly.


Using a mandolin – or a very sharp, thin bladed knife – slice the fennel very thinly and put it into a large bowl with the lemon juice. Slice the celery finely on an angle, reserving any leaves. Change the setting on your mandolin and slice the apples into slightly thicker pieces. Toss the celery and apples in the lemon juice, too. Add any fennel fronds and celery leaves you reserved.


Mix the extra virgin olive oil with the white balsamic vinegar, mustard and salt and pepper. Add this to the bowl, mixing it with the other contents. Taste the salad for seasoning. Just before serving, scatter the pomegranate seeds and hazelnuts on top.

How To Eat a Peach by Diana Henry is published by Mitchell Beazley



Diana Henry’s Spatchcocked Chicken with Chilli, Garlic, Parsley & Almond Pangrattato

I know, this is barely a recipe, it’s just flattened roast chicken with chopped almonds and herbs thrown on top, but I really crave this kind of food: charred, juicy meat, a contrasting crunchy texture and big, strong flavours. It’s great for one of those balmy late-summer evening meals.

serves 6

for the chicken

1.8kg (4lb) chicken

3 garlic cloves, finely grated

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

8 red onions, cut into wedges


for the pangrattato

80ml (2¾fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

100g (3½oz) stale sourdough bread, made into breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons chopped blanched almonds

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon chilli flakes leaves from a small bunch of

flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon


Set the bird on your work surface, breast-side down, legs towards you.

Using good kitchen scissors or poultry shears, cut through the flesh and bone along each side of the backbone. Remove the backbone and keep it for stock (freeze it until you’ve gathered other bones to cook along with it).

Open out the chicken, turn it over so it is skin side up, then, flatten it by pressing hard on the breastbone with the heel of your hand. Remove any big globules of fat and neaten any ragged bits of skin. Now you have a spatchcocked bird.

Gently lift the skin on the breast of the bird so that you can put your hand in between the skin and the flesh (try not to tear the skin). Mix the garlic with 1 tablespoon of the extra virgin olive oil and some seasoning and carefully push this under the skin. Cover with cling film and put in the fridge for a couple of hours.


Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 and take the chicken out of the fridge. Put the onions into a roasting tin and pour on the remaining 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Set the chicken on top, breast side up, season the outside and roast for 1 hour.


Meanwhile, make the pangrattato. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and sauté the breadcrumbs for about 4 minutes. Add the almonds, garlic and chilli and cook for another minute or so. Remove from the heat and mix with the parsley and lemon zest, chopping everything together.


Cut the chicken into serving pieces and put it on to a warmed platter, on top of the red onions. Pour any extra cooking juices over the top, scatter on the pangrattato and serve.

How To Eat a Peach by Diana Henry is published by Mitchell Beazley



Diana Henry’s Onglet With Roast Beets & Horseradish Cream

An onglet steak – also known as hanger steak – is usually about 3cm (1¼in) thick and shaped like a small, fat snake. It is slightly chewy – but only slightly – and has a good gamey flavour. London-based chef Neil Rankin taught me how to cook steak (the instructions for all cuts are in his book, Low and Slow) and it works every time. Sautéed potatoes and watercress are good on the side.

serves 4

500g (1lb 2oz) small raw beetroots

regular olive oil

sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

125ml (4fl oz) double cream

1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard, or to taste, 3 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish

a splash of white wine vinegar (optional)

a pinch of caster sugar (optional)

4 x 250g (9oz) onglet steaks (keep them in the fridge)

flavourless oil or beef dripping, to fry


Preheat the oven to 210°C/410°F/gas mark 6½.

Trim the beetroots and wrap in foil, moistening with a little regular olive oil and seasoning before you seal the packet. Don’t wrap it too tightly, you want there to be space around the beets. Place in a roasting tin and cook until tender; it should take 30–35 minutes, though the time can vary. Test with the point of a knife, it should pass through with no resistance. When the beetroots are cool enough to handle, peel, quarter and season. These can be served at room temperature.


Reduce the oven temperature to 140°C/275°F/gas mark 1. Put in an empty roasting tin or baking sheet large enough to hold all the steaks.

Whip the cream and add the mustard and horseradish. Taste; you may want a little more mustard. Some people add a tiny splash of white wine vinegar (or, conversely, a pinch of sugar). Add whichever of those you think you would like.


Onglet steaks don’t have flat surfaces, so flatten each steak a bit by bashing it with the base of a saucepan, putting baking parchment over it first. Don’t overdo it, you just need to make them a bit less round. Heat 2 frying pans, preferably cast iron, 7–10 minutes ahead of when you want to cook them, setting the heat dial about three-quarters of the way round. To check whether the pan is hot enough to cook in, add a tiny bit of flavourless oil or dripping. If it smokes, the pan is ready. Heat a little oil or beef dripping in the pan, add 2 steaks to each pan and press down with tongs to get the surfaces in touch with the base of the pan. Move the steaks around all the time, seasoning and making sure each steak is getting browned all over. Listen for the sizzle: when the steak is quiet, you need to move it. If the pan gets too hot and the meat is getting too dark (you don’t want it to be black), reduce the heat; if it’s not getting dark enough, increase the heat.


Transfer the steaks to the hot tin or sheet in the oven and continue to cook for about 5 minutes for medium-rare (onglet is best served medium-rare).


Using a really sharp knife, slice each steak against the grain. Neil Rankin (see recipe introduction) doesn’t rest his steak. Serve with the roast beets and the horseradish cream. A handful of green leaves is good on the side.

How To Eat a Peach by Diana Henry is published by Mitchell Beazley


Diana Henry’s Gooseberry and Almond Cake with Lemon Thyme Syrup

This is a pale pudding – soft green and cream – which seems just right for early summer. I serve it with extra gooseberries, poached (there’s a recipe for them below) but you don’t have to.


Serves 6-8


For the cake:

125g (4½ oz) unsalted butter, softened plus more for the tin

125g (4½ oz) caster sugar,

plus 5 tablespoons caster sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature. Lightly beaten

75g (2¾ oz) plain flour, sifted

2 teaspoons chopped lemon thyme leaves

finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

75g (2¾ oz) ground almonds (preferable freshly ground)

¾ teaspoon baking powder

350g (12 oz) gooseberries, topped and tailed

For the syrup:

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

juice of 2 large lemons

2 teaspoons lemon thyme leaves



For poached gooseberries:

75g (2¾ oz) granulated sugar

2 lemon thyme sprigs

500g (1lb 2oz) gooseberries, topped and tailed



To serve:

thyme flowers, if you can find any

icing sugar, to dust (optional)

sweetened crème fraîche or whipped cream




Preheat the oven to 190 °C/375 °F/gas mark 5. Butter a 20cm (8in) spring-form cake tin and line with baking parchment.


Beat the butter and the 125g (4½ oz) of caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition. If the mixture starts to curdle, add 1 tablespoon of the flour. Put the lemon thyme leaves in a mortar with the lemon zest and pound together to release the fragrance. Add to the batter and briefly mix. Fold in the rest of the flour, the almonds and the baking powder, using a large metal spoon. Scrape into the tin. Toss the gooseberries with the remaining 5 tablespoons of caster sugar and spread over the top. Bake for 30 minutes.


The cake is ready when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.


To make the syrup, quickly heat the granulated sugar, lemon juice and lemon thyme leaves in saucepan, stirring to help the sugar dissolve. Pierce the cake all over with a skewer while it is still warm and slowly pour the syrup into it. Leave cool a little, then carefully remove from the tin and put on a serving plate.


Meanwhile, poach the gooseberries. Heat 175ml (6fl oz) of water, the granulated sugar and lemon thyme together in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Add the gooseberries and cook over a medium heat for 4minutes, or until the fruit is soft but not collapsing (most of the berries should hold their shape). Leave to cool.


Any thyme flower you have will look lovely on top of the cake. You can leave it as is, or dust lightly with icing sugar just before serving, with sweetened crème fraîche or whipped cream and the poached gooseberries on the side.

How To Eat a Peach by Diana Henry is published by Mitchell Beazley

Imagery credit: Laura Edwards



Summer favourite

What joy, the garden and greenhouses are bursting with produce, so are the Farmers’ and Country markets and hopefully, your local shops and supermarkets are offering the bounty of the season to tempt you to make beautiful salads, pasta dishes, gorgeous soups and crudtiés.

I know I’m super fortunate to have a greenhouse so we have beautiful new potatoes, weeks later than usual this year but many of you too have discovered the magic of owning a tunnel to use as a protected garden. Pair them with some of those little scallions, put them into other dishes to add extra bulk and deliciousness but best of all boil them in sea-water, eat immediately slathered with butter and Irish sea salt -you’ll feel like saying grace and thanking the Good Lord and Mother Nature for the bounty of the seasons, and of course make a wish.


There’s still a little asparagus about and we’re just getting the first Summer crabs from Ballycotton and soon we’ll have mackerel. Joy of joys, the gooseberry bushes are dripping with fruit. You know, they are my favourite sea fish – fresh mackerel eaten within a few hours from the sea is a revelation to many.

The wild Irish salmon season started on the 12th of May. Just a few weeks to enjoy this sublime and precious fish. So treat yourself. And then there’s broad beans, oh my goodness I just love broad beans or fava beans as they are known in the US.

We use every scrap, the top leaves and some flowers in salad (don’t pick too many flowers, remember they will be ultimately be the broad beans) When the little pods are just 3 to 4 inches long, we chargrill them. But to be as magical as I say, broad beans must be super fresh, the natural sugars turn into starch within 5 or 6 hours and after a few days travel they really lose their ‘mojo’ and become dull and mealy. So I can understand if you’re baffled by my enthusiasm. You’ll need to grow them yourself or sidle up to a friend with a glut and maybe do a barter.  We’ve also had the first of our courgettes with their frilly canary yellow blossom, another vegetable that can be dull as dishwater or blow your mind when they are young, crisp, and nutty in flavour. Try them raw and thinly sliced in a carpaccio of zucchini, drizzle them with extra virgin olive oil and a few flakes of sea salt, alternatively sprinkle with some strips of anchovy and add a little of the oil. Decorate with the zucchini blossoms.

I’ve chosen a few of my favourite Summer recipes, so difficult because there are so many delicious ways to serves gorgeous fresh produce.


Spring Onion or Garlic Chive Soda Bread

On a recent trip to India I loved the flat breads with scallions. They use a yeast dough but this soda bread version is also delicious and super easy to make.

450g (1 lb) flour

1 level teaspoon bread soda

1 level teaspoon salt

2-4 tablespoons finely sliced spring onions or garlic chives

350- 425mls (12-15 fl ozs) approx. sour milk or butter milk to mix


First fully preheat your oven to 230C/450F/gas mark 8.


Sieve the dry ingredients, add the finely sliced spring onions. Make a well in the centre. Pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a floured board, knead lightly for a few seconds, just enough to tidy it up. Pat the dough into a round about 1 1/2 inch (4cm) deep and cut a deep cross on it to let the fairies out! Let the cuts go over the sides of the bread to make sure of this. Bake in a hot oven 230C\450F\ gas mark 8 for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 200C\400F\ gas mark 6 for 30 minutes or until cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread, if it is cooked it will sound hollow.


Spanking Fresh Mackerel Gravlax with Wasabi and Dill Mayonnaise


This basic Nordic pickling technique can be used for many fish – salmon, haddock, and mackerel. I’ve substituted wasabi for French mustard with delicious results. We are all addicted to this pickled mackerel gravlax, which keeps for up to a week. Fresh dill is essential.

One can use the same pickle for the gravlax.


Serves 12 – 16 as a starter


4-6 mackerel, filleted

1 heaped tablespoon sea salt

1 heaped tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons dill, finely chopped

dark brown bread and butter, to serve


a gratin dish


Fillet the mackerel and remove all the bones. Mix the salt, sugar, pepper and dill together in a bowl.  Line the gratin dish with a piece of clingfilm.  Sprinkle some cure on the bottom of the gratin dish; lay the mackerel fillets skin side down on top.  Sprinkle more cure on top and another layer of mackerel and finish with a layer of cure.   Wrap tightly with clingfilm, weight it down slightly with a board and refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours.


Wasabi and Dill Mayonnaise

1 large egg yolk, preferably free range

1-1 ½ tablespoons grated wasabi

1 tablespoon white sugar

150ml (5fl oz) ground nut or sunflower oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon dill, finely chopped

salt and white pepper


Whisk the egg yolk with the wasabi and sugar, drip in the oil drop by drop whisking all the time, then add the vinegar and fresh dill.


To Serve

Wipe the dill mixture off the fish and slice thinly. Arrange on a plate. Serve with wasabi and dill mayonnaise and dark brown bread and butter.

Garnish with fresh dill flowers if available.

Pappardelle with double Broad Beans and Rocket Leaves

Serves 4


450g pappardelle

225g broad beans, shelled

8 tablespoons broad bean puree (see recipe)

A fistful of rocket leaves

4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, approx.

lots of freshly ground pepper and sea salt


First make the broad bean puree.  Cook and shell the broad beans and keep warm.


Cook the pappardelle until ‘al dente’ in plenty of boiling salted water.  Drain quickly.  Add a little extra virgin olive oil to the pan, add the broad beans, pasta and rocket leaves and toss well.  Season with lots of pepper and some sea salt.  Put two tablespoons of warm broad bean puree onto each plate.  Put a portion on pasta on top and serve immediately.

Broad Bean Puree


We use this puree in many ways, you can imagine how good it is with ham or bacon, duck, summer plaice or John Dory.


150ml water

1 teaspoon salt

450g shelled broad beans

sprig of summer savory

about 25g butter

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1-2 teaspoon summer savory, freshly chopped

2-3 tablespoon cream


Bring the water to a rolling boil, add the sea salt, broad beans and a sprig of savory.  Boil very fast for 3-4 minutes or until just cooked.  Drain immediately.

Melt a little butter in the saucepan, toss in the broad beans and season with freshly ground pepper.  Taste, add some more savory and a little salt if necessary.

Slip the beans out of their skins.  Add the cream and puree.  Check the seasoning and serve.


Roast Beetroot with Apple, Pomegranate Seeds and Mint, with Horseradish Cream


This combination makes an irresistible starter but can also be served family style for lunch or supper.

Serves 8


I kg young beetroot

3-4 Cox’s Orange Pippin apples, or 2 Red Elstar, peeled and diced in 7mm dice

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½-1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 pomegranate

Rocket leaves

1 fistful mint leaves


15-30g Iranian pistachio nuts, halved


Horseradish cream

Grilled Sourdough (optional)


Preheat the oven to 230C/gas mark 8


Wrap the beetroot in aluminium foil and roast in the oven until soft and cooked through, 30 mins to 1 hour,* (see below) depending on the size, or until the skins will rub off.

Cut into chunks.  Add the apple dice.

Toss in extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar.   Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Halve the pomegranate and pop out the seeds.

Scatter a serving plate with rocket leaves.  Spread the beetroot and apple over the leaves.  Scatter the mint leaves over the top and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and halved pistachio nuts.

Serve with a dollop of horseradish cream and some grilled sourdough.



*Beetroot take much longer to cook in winter, we sometimes boil them first until tender, then peel, cut into wedges. Toss in extra virgin olive oil and roast in a preheated oven at 230˚C/gas mark 8 for 15-20 minutes.



Green Goosegog Crumble with Elderflower Cream

We’ve just had the first green gooseberries, they are still hard and under ripe but fantastic for pies and tarts.


Serves 6-8


When we were little,  we always called gooseberries goosegogs.

Crumbles are the quintessential comfort food, this is a brilliant master recipe, just vary the fruit according to the season.


675g  green gooseberries

45-55g soft dark brown sugar

1-2 tablespoon water



110g white flour, preferably unbleached

50g butter

50g castor sugar


Elderflower Cream

175ml cream, whipped

1 tablespoon elderflower cordial


1.1L capacity pie dish


First stew the gooseberries gently with the sugar and water in a covered casserole or stainless steel saucepan just until the fruit bursts.

Then taste and add more sugar if necessary. Turn into a pie dish. Allow to cool slightly while you make the crumble.

Rub the butter into the flour just until the mixture resembles really coarse bread crumbs, add the sugar. Sprinkle this mixture over the gooseberries in the pie dish. Scatter the flaked almonds evenly over the top.

Bake in a preheated moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4, for 30-45 minutes or until the topping is cooked and golden. Serve with elderflower cream or just softly whipped cream and soft brown sugar.


To make the elderflower cream, fold the cordial into the softly whipped cream, to taste.



Variation: Gooseberry and Elderflower

Stew the gooseberries with white sugar, add 2 elderflower heads tied in muslin while stewing, remove elderflowers and proceed as above.

Variations on the Crumble

30g oatflakes or sliced hazelnuts or nibbed almonds can be good added to the crumble.



Basil Ice-Cream

Makes 600ml


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


Serves 6


1/2 vanilla bean (pod)

45g fresh basil leaves, torn

175ml whole milk

4 egg yolks

62g sugar

175ml rich cream, cold


Ripe figs, optional


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


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


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


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

Serve on chilled plates with ripe figs if available.









Funny how when you hear about an unfamiliar place or discover the meaning of a hitherto unfamiliar word, it seems to pop up regularly here and there within the next few weeks.

Well my new discovery is aquafaba, not only is it a new word to me but also a new, exciting, almost magical ingredient.
When I thought about it for a moment it is easy to translate, Aqua- water and faba– beans. Aquafaba is the liquid in tins of beans or the cooking liquid left over after cooking your own. Really good stuff, full of protein, vitamins, minerals and trace elements, so worth saving for soup, stews and stock.

But that’s not all; a clever Frenchman discovered that if you whipped the aquafaba, it fluffs up into a light meringue….
Turns out that the unique mix of starches, proteins, fibre and sugars gives aquafaba a wide range of emulsifying, foaming, binding and thickening properties making it the perfect ingredient for vegan cooking or for those who have an egg allergy.

How amazing that the bean liquid that many of us just chucked down the sink is a precious ingredient now provoking a culinary revolution.

I first tasted a meringue made from chickpea water in a Mexican restaurant in New York ???? about 4 years ago – it was the talk of the town at that stage. Light, delicious and mysterious, I had no idea how to reproduce it.

But recently the word aquafaba has started to pop up as an ingredient in food magazines and then as if by magic a book “Aquafaba” arrived on my desk, imagine, a whole book of recipes using aquafaba. Written by Sébastien Kardinal and Laura Power.
The properties of aquafaba were discovered not by a chemist, professional chef or molecular gastronomer but by a curios singer and vegan blogger who tested all manner of things in a desperate effort to achieve a vegan mousse to make one of his favourite dishes ‘Îles Flottantes’ or what we call floating islands.
Others were experimenting with flaxseed concoctions, pure soya protein, CO2 cartridges and a variety of imaginative ideas but still no stable foams that would remain firm in both raw and cooked dishes.

Joël Roessel who made the amazing discovery shared the breakthrough on his blog “Révolution Végétale” and the vegan culinary bloggers went into a frenzy of testing. Word spread like wildfire on social media… Goose Wohlt from the US is the person credited with christening the left over liquid from cooking beans – aquafaba – a far sexier term than the latter. The rest is history, albeit a new history because it all began in late 2014 but its fame has spread with the vegan revolution. Who knew before Joël Roessel’s discovery that the viscous liquid from a tin of chickpeas reacted just like egg whites….

So where can we find aquafaba? As yet it’s not possible to buy commercial, ready-to-use aqua faba, although I bet it’s on its way.

However there are two ways to obtain it,
1) Save the liquid from a tin or jar of cooked, (unflavoured) chickpeas. An 800g tin will yield approx. 250ml of aquafaba.
2) Soak and cook your own chickpeas at home, save the cooking liquid, better quality but not instant…

Aquafaba will keep in a fridge for 6 to 7 days in a tightly sealed glass jar or bottle. It will look cloudy and may separate, but just shake the jar to re-amalgamate. Alternatively freeze it – an ice cube tray is perfect. Store in a plastic bag or box and deforest as needed.


Aquafaba Royal Hummus
Do not mess with this emblematic speciality! Hummus is THE thing that everyone loves, that gives you a huge appetite even if you’re not hungry. It’s incredibly addictive. And as everyone knows: ‘Hummus one day, hummus every day!’
Serves 4 – preparation time: 15 minutes
500g (18oz) cooked chickpeas
100ml (3½fl oz) cold water
20ml (1 tablespoon) lemon juice
3g (½ teaspoons) unrefined fine salt
3g (1 teaspoon) ground cumin
15ml (1 tablespoon) olive oil
150g (5oz) tahini
2 garlic cloves

Set aside 10 chickpeas to use as decoration.

Pour the cold water, lemon juice, fine salt, cumin and olive oil into the bowl of a blender. Add the chickpeas, tahini and pressed garlic cloves.

Mix at full power for 5 minutes. The mixture should be completely smooth.

If it still looks a bit lumpy, add a splash of cold water and mix again.

Transfer the hummus onto a soup plate, add a generous dash of olive oil and sprinkle with za’atar.

Garnish with the chickpeas and serve.

We use a pre-prepared Lebanese ‘za’atar’ mixture containing a mixture of herbs (wild thyme, marjoram, hyssop, sumac, sesame, salt). There are as many types of za’atar as regions in the Middle East. Therefore, there is no ‘true’ za’atar, just many different types depending on the region.
Aquafaba by Sébastien Kardinal and Laura Power, published by Grub Street Publishing, photography by Laura Power

Aquafaba Chickpea Curry
Indian cuisine is full of great ideas about how to cook legumes. It has to be said, plain chickpeas don’t make the most glamorous of dishes and many people are reluctant to eat it in its most rudimentary form. However, in a curry, chickpeas are a real delight, mixing intense flavours and melt-in-your mouth textures.

Serves 4

1 red onion
10g (1/2 oz) fresh ginger
1 garlic clove
2g (1½ teaspoons) coriander seeds
2g (1 teaspoon) cumin seeds
20ml (1 tablespoon) rapeseed oil
10 curry leaves
9g (1 tablespoon) Madras curry powder
400 ml (14fl oz) coconut milk
50 g (4 tablespoons) tomato purée
500 g (18oz) cooked chickpeas
½ lime
Pinch of fine salt
Fresh coriander

Finely slice the onion, ginger and garlic. Using a pestle and mortar, crush the coriander and cumin seeds. In a large cooking pot, heat the rapeseed oil, add the crushed spices and curry leaves, and
heat for 30 seconds before adding the chopped onion/ginger/garlic.

Brown for 2 minutes then add the Madras curry powder, mix and add 50 ml of water. Reduce the heat for a few minutes before pouring in the coconut milk and adding the tomato purée. Season with salt, mix well. When the liquid starts to simmer, add the chickpeas, cover and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes. Add the juice of half a lime, mix and serve. Scatter fresh coriander leaves over as a garnish.

Basmati rice makes a perfect accompaniment to this dish.

Madras curry is a fairly hot spice mix with deliciously spicy notes. If you are sensitive to these types of spices, we recommend a mild curry spice so that you can still enjoy the dish.
Aquafaba by Sébastien Kardinal and Laura Power, published by Grub Street Publishing, photography by Laura Power

Aquafaba Tandoori Roasted Chickpeas
Bored of the same old crisps and peanuts with your apéritif? Why not try roasted chickpeas for a change? It’s original and nutritious. Keep the great tastes, but without the saturated fats. Crunchy on the outside, melting in the middle, these tandoori roasted chickpeas are your new best friend.

Serves 4 – preparation time: 5 minutes – cooking time: 40 minutes

500 g (18oz) cooked chickpeas
20 ml (1tablespoon) vegetable oil
15 ml (1 tablespoon) coconut cream
2 g (1⁄3 teaspoon) unrefined fine salt
5 g (2 teaspoons) tandoori spice mix

Leave the chickpeas to dry in the open air overnight.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5.

Combine the oil, coconut cream, salt and half the tandoori spice mix in a mixing bowl. Add the chickpeas and mix everything thoroughly.

Finish with the rest of the tandoori mix and combine one last time.

Spread on a baking tray covered with baking paper, making sure not to layer up the chickpeas. Bake for 40 minutes.

Leave to cool before serving.

Keep in a paper bag, in a dry place and eat within 48 hours.
Aquafaba by Sébastien Kardinal and Laura Power, published by Grub Street Publishing, photography by Laura Power

Aquafaba Almond Meringues
Meringues come in many different flavours, shapes and forms. But one of the most emblematic is the kind you find in bakery windows: a vanilla-flavoured, white meringue, sprinkled with grilled almonds. The taste will put you up on cloud nine!
Makes 7 meringues
100 ml (3½fl oz) aquafaba
3 ml (2/3 teaspoon) lemon juice
5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
200 g (7oz) icing sugar
4 g (1 teaspoon) cream of tartar
Flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 120°C/250°F/gas ½. Move the oven shelf to the bottom of the oven. Pour the aquafaba, lemon juice and vanilla extract into the stand mixer and whisk at full power for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the icing sugar with the cream of tartar, and sieve to remove any lumps of sugar.
Once the aquafaba mixture has formed stiff peaks, add the icing sugar mixture gradually, whisking for a further 3 minutes. The meringue mixture is ready to use when it doesn’t fall easily from the whisk. Use the mixture to fill a pastry bag with a star-shaped nozzle. Pipe out equally sized meringues on a baking tray covered with baking paper.
Sprinkle some almond flakes on top, pressing lightly to embed them and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes without opening the oven. Leave to cool completely and store in a dry place for a half or whole day before serving.
The meringues can be kept for a few days in a dry place and in the open air.
Aquafaba by Sébastien Kardinal and Laura Power, published by Grub Street Publishing, photography by Laura Power

Aquafaba Chocolate Mousse
There are numerous chocolate mousse recipes for vegans. However, for many the name is merely symbolic. The reason is that whisked egg whites are the key ingredient for making this dessert with its unique texture: it was foolish to think we could get the same texture using silken tofu. Luckily, aquafaba has arrived and has revolutionised everything!

Serves 2–4
Preparation time: 15 minutes – resting time: 3 hours

200 g (7oz) dark chocolate (74% cocoa maximum)
½ tonka bean
200 ml (7fl oz) aquafaba
5 ml (1 teaspoon) cider vinegar
100 g (3½ oz) icing sugar

Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie over a very low heat, grate the tonka bean over the top and incorporate.

Once the chocolate is partially melted, remove from the heat and allow to melt slowly, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, pour the aquafaba and vinegar into the stand mixer.

Whisk at full power until the liquid forms soft peaks. Sprinkle in the icing sugar, continuing to whisk. The mixture should form stiff peaks. Whisk for 10 minutes.

Stop the stand mixer, remove the whisk and pour the melted chocolate over the stiff peaks. Gently fold the two mixtures together, using a spatula and taking care to stir in the same direction lifting the peaks so that they don’t disintegrate.


Time to sow and grow

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

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

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

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

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


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


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






Kitchen Window Sill Green Salad with Honey and Mustard Dressing


Honey and Mustard Dressing

150ml (6fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

50ml (2fl oz) wine vinegar

salt and freshly ground pepper

2 teaspoons honey

2 heaped teaspoons wholegrain honey mustard

2 cloves garlic


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


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


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


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



Summer Green Salad with Edible Flowers

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


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



Fish Taco with Salsa Verde and Radishes


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


Serves 4




50g bunch of fresh coriander

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Flaky salt and freshly ground pepper


2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

110g  radishes, sliced

4 small scallions or spring onions, sliced at an angle

½-1 chilli, seeded and chopped


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

700g  John Dory or sea bass, skinned

½ teaspoon coriander seed


12 corn tortillas (15cm)


Preheat the oven to 250˚C/gas mark 9


First make the salsa.

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

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

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

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


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

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

Serve three per person with a wedge of lime.



Melted Green Onions with Thyme Leaves

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


Serves 6-8


900g young green onions

3 – 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons  thyme leaves

salt and freshly ground pepper


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

Asparagus, Rocket and Wild Garlic Frittata


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

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


Serves 6



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


8 eggs, preferably free-range, organic

225g (8oz) thin asparagus

1 teaspoon salt and lots of freshly ground pepper

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

2-3 tablespoons roughly chopped wild garlic and rocket leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil



wild garlic and rocket leaves and flowers


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


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


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


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


Garnish with wild garlic flowers



Basil Ice-Cream with Roast Peaches


Makes 600ml


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


Serves 6


1/2 vanilla bean (pod)

45g fresh basil leaves, torn

175ml whole milk

4 egg yolks

62g sugar

175ml rich cream, cold


Roast peaches with lemon verbena cream, see below, optional


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


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


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


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

Serve on chilled plates with roast peaches.


Roast Peaches with Lemon Verbena Cream


Serves 8

8 peaches

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons lemon juice

25g butter

Preheat the oven to 250C/Gas Mark 9

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



600ml cream

1-2 tablespoons lemon verbena, finely chopped


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


Serve the peaches warm with softly whipped verbena cream


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



4 large mackerel fillets, bones removed and filleted in half

3 tablespoons mustard oil

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons Kasundi mustard or other wholegrain mustard

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

a generous pinch of sea salt

50 g (2 oz) flaked (slivered) almonds

2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chilli powder (optional)

a pinch of chaat masala

a few coriander (cilantro) leaves,

to garnish



1 cucumber, seeds discarded and diced

200 ml (7 fl oz) Pickling Liquor



2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon onion seeds

1 Indian fresh bay leaf

2–3 green chillies, finely chopped

200 g (7 oz) fresh or frozen gooseberries

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

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

sea salt, to taste

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


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


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

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


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



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

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




500 ml (17 fl oz) white wine vinegar

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

2 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

4 cloves

2 fresh Indian bay leaves


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


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


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



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



20 fresh oysters of choice

200 g (7 oz) coconut cream



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

a pinch of sea salt

200 ml (7 fl oz) water

4 green chillies

2 bunches of fresh coriander (cilantro)



1 cucumber, deseeded and finely diced

100 ml (3 ½ fl oz) Pickling Liquor

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

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


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


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

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





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



250 ml (8 ½fl oz) condensed milk

250 g (9 oz) Greek yoghurt

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

50 g (2 oz) rose petals

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

4 teaspoons of roughly chopped pistachio nuts

seeds of 1 small pomegranate

a few sprigs of fresh mint leaves, to serve


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


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


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


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


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


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




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


MAKES 750 ML ( 2 5 FL OZ)

750 ml (25fl oz) filtered water

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


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


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

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





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



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

500 g (1lb 2 oz) wild garlic leaves

4 green chillies

a thumb-size piece of fresh ginger root

2 garlic cloves, peeled

200 ml (7fl oz) vegetable oil

5 tablespoons lemon juice

caster (superfine) sugar, to taste

sea salt, to taste


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

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

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




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



200 ml (7fl oz) vegetable oil

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon onion seeds

3 dried Kashmiri red chillies

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

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

sea salt, to taste

caster (superfine) sugar, to taste


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


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


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


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

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


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