CategoryBook Review

The Kilkenny Cookbook

I remember the excitement in the Midlands in the early 60’s when the news filtered through that we were to have a Design Centre in Kilkenny. A few years earlier, the Irish Export Board had invited five eminent Scandinavian designers to come to Ireland to review the design scene. The report was critical of the low levels of design awareness in this country and suggested setting up Design Workshops to develop the crafts industry and to promote better design.
The Craft Workshops were established in the 18th century stables opposite Kilkenny Castle. The beautiful buildings were sensitively restored and Patrick Hillery opened the Kilkenny Design Workshops in April 1963.
Starved of good design and stylish products, we all flocked to Kilkenny to admire and to buy. I fondly remember Rudolf Heltzel’s silverware, Sonia Landweer’s pottery, Helena Ruth’s weaving among many others.
The workshops became a valuable training ground and platform for Irish craftspeople working in many mediums. By 1976, demand for these unique products had grown sufficiently to warrant the opening of a custom built retail outlet in Nassau St. in Dublin. This became the country’s premier showcase for contemporary Irish craft and design. The space also included a restaurant offering fine quality home-made Irish food.
In 1988 the Irish government sold the Kilkenny Design Centre, Nassau St. to Blarney Woollen Mills, a Cork retail company owned by the Kelleher family who took the decision to retain its unique ethos and craft-based identity and remain faithful to the principle that it should showcase high quality crafts from Irish designers.
In July 1999 the store became simply Kilkenny, an independent entity, under the ownership of the sisters Marian O’Gorman and Bernadette Kelleher Nolan, members of the Kelleher family. Under their guidance the Nassau St shop continues to flourish, whilst new Kilkenny shops have been opened in Kilkenny City and Galway.
The café and restaurant offering deliciously wholesome meals soon became an attraction in its own right – a favourite haunt for tourists and locals alike with tantalizing views into the grounds of Trinity College.
This year Kilkenny was awarded Best Breakfast Award for Dublin by Georgina Campbell. Catherine Curran, Manager of the Kilkenny Restaurant in Dublin attributes the popularity of the Café to their wonderful chefs, without whom none of it would have been possible – Annemarie Conway started with Kilkenny at the tender age of seventeen and worked her way up to become Head Chef . Her colleague Cordon Bleu trained Claire Russell has been a member of the team for the past three years, having lived and worked in Spain, Morocco, South Africa and France, she reflects the modern multicultural Ireland.
The Kilkenny Café in Galway was part of a new store opened in 2002 under the direction of chef manager Annette Cook, the creative team of chefs serve a varied menu with traditional Irish and continental influences.
In 2002, some of the Kilkenny Team, along with other food professionals, were involved in tasting and choosing ‘Passionate about Taste’ – Kilkenny’s new speciality delicatessen range.
Most recently, they have collaborated to produce the long-awaited Kilkenny Cookbook, so if you’ve been enjoying their delicious wholesome comforting dishes for many years, you can now discover the secrets – however, I doubt if aficionados will pass up their regular fix of the original.

Chicken and Broccoli Pie
Serves 6
5-6 5-6 chicken fillets
8 potatoes, peeled
440g/14 oz broccoli
1 egg
30g/3 tablesp. flour
75g/3oz butter
500ml/1 pint chicken stock
150ml/5oz milk
150ml/5oz cream
salt and pepper
2 teasp. mustard
½ teasp. nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.gas 4.

Cook potatoes until soft. Drain and mash, add salt, hot milk and half the butter. Beat until smooth. Keep warm.
Poach or steam the chicken fillets until well cooked, reserving the stock for the sauce. Cool and cut into bite sized pieces.
Steam broccoli until al dente, drain and refresh under cold water to preserve colour. Break into florets.
Make the sauce; melt the butter, add flour and cook for 1 minute. Add warm stock stirring as it cooks and thickens. Season with salt and pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and mustard. Add the cream. The sauce should be of pouring consistency.
Pour sauce over chicken and broccoli and mix well.
Pipe potatoes on top. Beat egg with 1 teaspoon of water and brush over the potatoes. Bake until bubbling and golden, about 25 minutes.

Spanish Chorizo and Chickpea Soup

Serves 6-8
2 x 400g/8oz can cooked chickpeas, drained
45ml/3 tablesp olive oil
2 leeks sliced thinly or diced
2 onions diced
2 carrots diced
2 sticks celery diced
2 potatoes diced
2 x 400g/8oz can chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 teasp. turmeric (ground)
1 teasp. cumin (ground)
salt and pepper
225g/8oz chorizo sausage diced
1.7l/3 pint chicken stock

Heat oil in a saucepan. Add spices, onions, garlic, leeks, carrots and celery and cook gently for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add chickpeas, potatoes, tomatoes, chorizo sausage and seasoning.
Cover and gently simmer for a further 15 minutes.
It should be thick with vegetables and contain very little liquid.
Serve piping hot with crusty bread.

Gluten-free Scones

Makes about 14 scones
450g/16oz Gluten free flour
50g/2oz granulated sugar
75g/3oz butter
250ml/8 fl.oz milk
3 eggs and 1 egg for glazing

Preheat oven to 200C/400F/gas 6

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together. Add eggs and milk and combine well.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead gently to form a smooth pliable dough.
Roll out to about 2.5cm/1 inch in height. Flour a scone cutter and gently cut out your scones. Place on a baking tray.
Egg wash and bake in oven for 15-20 minutes.

Kilkenny Fish Pie

Serves 6
1 kg/2lbs peeled potatoes
450g/1lb cod
450g/1lb smoked haddock
855ml/1½ pints milk
150g/6oz butter
3 leeks, thinly sliced
1 tablesp. mustard
50g/2oz plain flour
300ml/½ pint dry cider or white wine
1 tablesp. fresh parsley
2 tablesp.lemon juice
200g/8oz baby spinach
3 hard-boiled eggs
50g/2oz chopped dill (reserve a little for garnish)
salt and white pepper

Put cod and haddock in large saucepan and cover with 700ml/13 pints milk. Bring slowly to the boil. Simmer for 8-10 minutes until flesh is just cooked. Remove fish carefully and reserve milk.
In the meantime, cook potatoes until tender, drain well, mash or puree. Add 75g/3oz of butter, salt and pepper to taste. Beat in 140ml/¼ pint of warm milk. Set aside and keep warm. Preheat oven to 190C/375F/gas 5.
Melt butter in large saucepan and add leeks. Cook gently for 5 minutes until soft, then add flour. Cook for 1 minute, stir in cider or wine and then add reserved milk.
Add lemon juice, mustard and parsley. Season to taste. Set aside.
Flake the fish, removing skin and bones. Cut egg into quarters, sauté spinach in a little butter until just wilted.
Put the fish in an ovenproof dish and add the spinach, eggs and dill. Pour over the sauce. Top with the mashed potato. 
To glaze pie:
Beat egg with 1 teaspoon water, using a pastry brush.
Brush egg wash evenly over potatoes and bake for 30 minutes, until topping is crisp and golden. Garnish with fresh dill.

Sticky Toffee Pudding with Sticky Toffee Sauce
Serves 6
175g/6oz prunes or dates
200ml/7oz water
1 teasp bicarbonate of soda
50g/2oz butter
175g/6oz caster sugar
2 eggs beaten
175g/6oz self-raising flour
1 teasp. vanilla essence

The Sauce:

300ml/8fl.oz cream
50g/2oz Demerara sugar
2 teasp. black treacle

You will need a 25cm/10 inch square baking tin, lined with parchment paper.
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas .
Boil dates or prunes in the water for 5 minutes. Add the bicarbonate of soda and keep the fruit in the water. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs and beat well. Add the flour and fold in. Mix in the fruit and water, then pour the mixture into the baking tin. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until just firm to the touch.
While the pudding is cooking, prepare the sauce.
Blend the ingredients together in a saucepan over a low heat stirring until the sauce comes to the boil, remove from the heat and set aside. Cut the pudding into portions and pour on the sauce.
Serve immediately. Can be served with custard, ice-cream or fresh cream.

Apple Tart

This apple tat is very popular in Kilkenny with numerous requests for the recipe.
Serves 6

225g/8oz plain flour
75g/3oz butter, diced
75g/3oz lard, diced
100ml/3fl.oz ice cold water
pinch of salt
30g/2 tablesp granulated sugar
6-8 cooking apples or Granny Smith apples
3 teap. Ginger
3 teasp. Cinnamon
1 pie dish 23cm/9 in wide
1 egg for glazing

Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F/gas 6.

Firstly prepare the pastry; combine sieved flour and salt in bowl. Cut butter and lard into flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add enough iced water to make a pliable dough. 
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Divide in half, wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Peel, core and slice the apples and toss in bowl with cinnamon, ginger and sugar.
Roll out the pastry about 30cm/12 in wide into 2 circles. Lay one circle on pie dish, arrange apples on top. Brush edges with water to seal. Cover with second round and press edges together to trim any excess pastry and crimp edges. Make 3 slits to allow steam to escape.
Brush with egg wash and bake for 30 minutes in the centre of the oven.

Foolproof Food

Fluffy Lemon Pudding

Try this lovely light fresh tasting lemon pudding to sharpen the taste buds after Christmas.
Serves 4-6

This is an old fashioned family pudding which separates into two quite distinct layers when it cooks; it has a fluffy top and a creamy lemon base.

1 oz (30g) butter
6 ozs (170g) castor sugar
2 ozs (55g) flour
2 eggs (preferably free range)
1-2 unwaxed lemons
8 fl ozs (250ml) milk
icing sugar

1 x 1 pint pie dish

Cream the butter well. Add the castor sugar and beat well. Grate the rind of the lemon and squeeze and strain its juice; separate the egg yolks and add one by one, then stir in the flour and gradually add the finely grated rind and juice of the lemon (see below). Lastly add the milk. Whisk the egg whites stiffly in a bowl and fold gently into the lemon mixture. Pour into a pie dish and bake in a moderate oven, 180C/350F/regulo 4, for 40 minutes approx. Dredge with icing sugar.
Serve immediately with softly whipped cream.
Note: If the lemons are very pale, use the zest of 1 or 2 to give a sharper lemon flavour.

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Top Tips:

Cork Free Choice Consumers Group and Slow Food East Cork will hold a joint olive oil event at the Crawford Gallery Café, Emmet Place, Cork on Thursday 29th January at 7.30pm – guest speakers, comparative tasting of Greek, Spanish and Italian olive oils – including some delicious new season’s oil. Admission €5 including tea, coffee and tastings. More details from Meredith Benke 087-9613600.

Irresistible Breakfasts Part 1 - One day cookery course on 21st February 2004 at Ballymaloe Cookery School €195 – an exciting range of breakfast dishes extending far beyond the predictable orange juice and fry – including advice on buying best quality ingredients and presenting food attractively – suitable for those in the bed and breakfast business, cafes and anyone who wants to learn to cook delicious breakfasts. Tel 021-4646785 for details and booking. 

Gardening resolutions – Don’t forget those New Year Resolutions to grow your own herbs and vegetables – the seeds are coming into the shops and garden centres now – so don’t delay while there’s a good selection. 
For anyone down Skibbereen direction today Growing Awareness is hosting a Hedge Laying Course from 10.30-4.30 at Madeline McKeever’s farm, Ardagh, Church Cross, Skibbereen 10.30-4.30 €25. Tel. Madeline at 028-38184.

Paul Flynn

Paul Flynn, chef-patron of the Tannery Restaurant in Dungarvan bounced into the cookery school last week, looking every inch a mischievous little boy in a chef’s rigout. He was all set to do a master-class as a finale to their 12 week Certificate Course. I didn’t know it then but he’d confessed to Emer (who assisted him), that he was scared to death because this was only the second demonstration he had ever done in his life. Well, I have to tell you he’s a complete natural, the students were spellbound from the outset, can’t think why RTE haven’t snapped him up ages ago. His self-deprecating humour and passion for food had the students – all 10 nationalities, drooling over all kinds of unmentionable bits of pig that they wouldn’t have dreamed of cooking before.
Paul, spent nine years with the irrepressible Nico Ladenis in London, and many more with Marco Pierre White before opening his own restaurant in his home town with his wife Maire. Running his own place with a free hand to cook whatever he fancied proved to be quite a learning curve, as he and his curious customers got the measure of each other. It wasn’t long before the word got out to lovers of good food that it was well worth making a detour to lovely Dungarvan, to Paul and Maire’s minimalist restaurant.
The food has won many accolades and has recently been voted ‘Best Restaurant in Munster’ by Food and Wine Magazine. Paul wrote a highly entertaining column in the Irish Times Magazine for several years which formed the basis of his recently published cookbook: An Irish Adventure with Food named as Cookbook of the Year, also by Food and Wine Magazine.
This is a highly personal account of Paul’s love affair with food and his fascination with fresh seasonal ingredients. He writes brilliantly and wittily – the book is peppered with wonderful quotes that can’t fail to get even the most blasé disinterested cook excited about even the most mundane ingredients, eg “Parsnips are fantastic. I like the way they lie in greengrocers, ugly and muddy, crying out to be scrubbed and peeled to reveal their creamy flesh”. He loves cooking offal and the cheaper cuts of meat.
He bemoaned the passing of ox cheek, “meltingly delicious, as rich as Bill Gates”, no longer available from Irish butchers because of the ox heads being sent to the SRM licensed disposal plants to be incinerated. His demonstration was entitled ‘Piggy Pleasure’, so he cooked us lots of delicious dishes with the succulent cheaper cuts of pork and bacon. Spring rolls filled with crubeens and served with choucroute and apple and cinnamon butter. A ham hock terrine made with shoulder of bacon with sage and onion, Glazed belly of pork with Savoy cabbage, celeriac and potato puree.
While he waited for the pork to caramelise in the oven he whipped up a bacon and cabbage risotto which he raised to fluffy new heights with a few spoonfuls of horseradish cream borrowed from the terrine – modern Irish fusion food at its very best.
We had no dessert but I rather fancy his banana gingerbread served with a few extra caramelised bananas. Paul’s book has recently been awarded the ‘Cookbook of the Year’, so you’ll need to rush out to secure a copy before Christmas.
An ideal present for a foodie friend or maybe a gift token for lunch at the Tannery would whet the appetite to start experimenting yourself.

‘An Irish Adventure with Food’ by Paul Flynn, published in Cork by the Collins Press.

The Tannery, Dungarvan, Tel. 058-45420

Honey & Ginger Roasted Parsnips

(from An Irish Adventure with Food by Paul Flynn)
These are essential Sunday lunch grub, golden, crispy and glistening.

Serves 4

8 small parsnips (peeled and with the tops cut off)
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
50g (2oz) butter
1 good tablespoon of honey
1 pinch of ground ginger
1 tablespoon toasted almonds

Cook your parsnips in boiling salted water until they are three-quarters cooked. Remove from the water and allow to cool. You can take your parsnips to this stage beforehand. Pre-heat your oven to 180C/gas 4. Heat the oil in a roasting tray on the hob and add the parsnips. Turn round in the oil for a couple of minutes then place in the oven for 10 minutes, turning once or twice. They should be starting to get brown and crispy. Drain off any excess oil then add the butter, honey and ground ginger, salt and pepper. Put back in the oven for 5 minutes taking care the honey doesn’t burn by shaking the tray and rolling the parsnips round every so often until they get a nice amber colour. Remove from the oven, put into a serving dish and sprinkle with the toasted almonds.

Chocolate and Hazelnut Cookies with Special Hot Chocolate

(from An Irish Adventure with Food by Paul Flynn)

Makes 25 cookies (approx.)
150g /5oz butter
75g /3oz caster sugar
75g /3oz ground hazelnuts
300g/11oz flour
pinch baking soda
225g/8oz small chocolate pieces of good quality plain chocolate

Beat together the butter and sugar. Add the hazelnuts, flour, baking soda. Beat until the mixture comes together. Add the chocolate chips. Divide in two halves and roll in clingfilm into a sausage shape to refrigerate for one hour. When ready to use, peel away the clingfilm. Cut in half centimetre slices and place on a greased baking tray. Bake in a preheated oven, 170C/gas 3 for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. If you wish you can freeze this mixture to be taken out when you fancy.


Special Hot Chocolate

Serves 4
600ml/1 pint milk
225g/8oz good quality plain chocolate, chopped
sugar to taste
Boil the milk, pour on top of the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Add sugar to taste. This can be laced with your favourite liqueur. Try Tia Maria, Cointreau, Amaretto or Brandy.


Terrine of ham hock with sage and onion

Serves about 10

1 shoulder of bacon – boiled and kept in bacon water. This can be done a day or two before.

1 2lb loaf tin lined with cling film that overlaps the edges
1 large onion finely diced
1 handful fresh sage, finely chopped
1 handful of prunes in Armagnac, moderately chopped (or some prunes soaked in tea may be used)
75 g/ 3 oz butter
1 splash of sherry or cider vinegar, optional
black pepper

Boil the ham until falling off the bone. Then allow to come to room temperature. Then chop into 2 cm pieces along with most of the fat. This is essential to make it stick together.

Sweat the onions very gently until they are a golden colour. Then add the sage. There must be no bite to the onions at all. Add a little salt and black pepper to the onions, then add the ham. Now add the chopped prunes and splash of vinegar. Mix everything together and pile into the terrine or loaf tin as tightly as you can. Bring the clingfilm back from the sides and overlap on the top, piercing four or five holes in it. Place the terrine in the fridge for two hours to set a little, then take out again and at this point you need to get a piece of wood or strong plastic to use as a press. This should just fit into the top of the tin. (A handyman or woman might knock that up for you). Place a heavy weight (3 or 4 kg) on top. (a few bags of sugar will do the trick). Refrigerate overnight and turn out. Slice, present and accept acclamation. Serve with toast and chutneys. This keeps for 2/3 days. (Ideal for around Christmas time)

Banana Gingerbread

(from An Irish Adventure with Food by Paul Flynn)

This makes one 900g/2lb loaf tin

Serves 8

225g/8oz self-raising flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
110g/4 oz treacle
110g/4 oz butter
110g/4 oz Demerara sugar
175g/6 oz golden syrup
1 egg
3 ripe bananas

This is combination of bananabread and gingerbread. It freezes superbly. Its great for an afternoon tea and its light enough to be used as a dessert, which we do in the restaurant.
Preheat the oven to 160C/gas 2½. Mix the flour and ginger in a bowl. Melt together the treacle, butter, sugar and golden syrup. Beat the egg and mash the bananas well. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Leave to rest for 10 minutes in the tin before turning out on a wire tray.
This is delicious with some whipped cream and a dash of maple syrup. If you want to go a little further, caramelise some bananas, (see recipe), and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
To reheat, slice and place in the microwave for a very short time: a few seconds should do it.


Glazed Bananas

4 ripe bananas

2 tablespoons Demerara sugar

Peel the bananas, cut them in half lengthways and half them again.
Cover the cut side of the bananas with the sugar and slowly caramelise with the gun or glaze under the grill until all the sugar has turned to caramel.

Foolproof Food

Ballymaloe Mincemeat

Makes 3.2 kilos approx.
2 cooking apples, eg. Bramley Seedling
2 lemons
450 g/1lb beef suet or butter – chilled and grated
pinch of salt
110 g/4oz mixed peel (preferably home-made)
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
225 g/8oz currants
450 g/1lb sultanas
900 g/2lb Barbados sugar (moist, soft, dark-brown)
62 ml Irish whiskey

Core and bake the whole apples in a moderate oven, 180C350F/regulo 4, for 45 minutes approx. Allow to cool. When they are soft, remove the skin and mash the flesh into pulp. Grate the rind from the lemons on the finest part of a stainless steel grater and squeeze out the juice. Add the other ingredients one by one, and as they are added, mix everything thoroughly. Put into jars, cover with jam covers and leave to mature for 2 weeks before using. This mincemeat will keep for a year in a cool, airy place.
Top Tips

Some ideas for Christmas presents –

Gift token or an apple tree from Irish Seedsavers Association, Capparoe, Scariff, Co Clare. Tel 061-921866

Hamper from Sheridans Cheesemongers – Tel 01-6793143 or 046-30373 –

Hamper or voucher for Country Choice in Nenagh – Tel. 067-32596

Gift subscription for Food and Wine Magazine – Tel 01-240 5324 – Food and Wine Subscriptions, Smurfit Communications, 2 Clanwilliam Court, Lr Mount St. Dublin 2

Clodagh McKenna will be doing little hampers of her pates with chutney – available from Urru in Bandon, Cook and Vine in Skibbereen, The Courtyard in Schull, Clonakilty Old Store, The Ballymaloe Shop – also from her stall in Midleton, Clonakilty and Bantry Markets. Tel. 087-8631602.

For glamorous foodies – Jo Malone cosmetics are offering wonderful scents and creams with flavours of mandarin, basil and lime. .. from Brown Thomas in Dublin.

Fruition Fruit Baskets – for all occasions including Christmas – finest seasonal fruit – nationwide delivery – contact Grainne O’Kane at 01-672 9676 or 086-8290835,

Alastair Hendy’s – Home Cook

Alastair Hendy’s name may not be familiar to many over here but readers of the Sunday Times who were devastated when his column was discontinued, are thrilled to find his lively prose, tempting recipes and evocative photos in the Mail on Sunday You Magazine. He also writes in a myriad of other magazines and publications.
I’m a fan and even more so since we met at Tasting Australia in Adelaide a couple of years ago. He and Kevin Gould, two culinary whizz kids were so kind to me and included me in many of their trips and events even though I was old enough to be their granny.
Alastair is an entirely self-taught eclectic cook, passionate about food and the quality of ingredients. He has written for numerous magazines and presented a 20-programme series ‘No Meat Required’ which was screened on Carlton Food Network. He takes beautiful photographs – he’s an inveterate traveller spending much of his time in India, South East Asia (Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia), Sri Lanka, Europe, USA, Central and South America and North Africa, all of which have influenced his eclectic cooking style.
His latest book ‘Home Cook’ with more than 150 recipes is described as an honest, fuss-free up-to-the-minute cookery bible that shows you how to magic a proper dinner with one hand while downing a glass or two with friends with the other. Well I found lots of really tempting recipes from favourite comfort snacks to exotic Pad Thai Noodles and White and Dark Chocolate Tira Misu. We also greatly enjoyed Honey Roast Drumsticks and Sticky Asian Pork and Herb Salad.
Home Cook by Alastair Hendy, published by Headline in 2004. 

Delicious Shrimp pad Thai noodles

300g dried rice stick noodles, or other rice noodles
5cm white radish or 4 regular radishes, finely shredded
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp castersugar
fish sauce
2 hot red chillies, sliced into rings
500g uncooked tiger prawns
2 big handfuls beansprouts
3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
3 large eggs
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely sliced
6 spring onions, cut into short lengths
4 tbsp roasted peanuts, crushed
1 tsp ground dried chilli or chilli flakes
handfuls of coriander leaves

The secret here, as with all stir-frying, is to have all your stuff ready for the pan, then it’s a simple process of slinging things in when you come to cook. First, soak the noodles. Toss the radish with the rice vinegar in a small bowl, and leave for about 30 minutes, then lift up from its vinegar bath and put on one side. Stir the sugar, 2 tbsp of the fish sauce and 1 tbsp water into the vinegar. Pop the chilli rings into small dipping bowls filled with fish sauce ready for serving. Now, display everything – including the prawns and beansprouts – in little piles or in bowls by the hob, ready for the off.
To cook, heat about 1 tbsp oil in your wok and swirl around, then crack in the eggs and scramble them: once they begin to set, keep scraping up and jumbling over until they start to gain a little golden colour, then scrape out into a small bowl. Next, heat 2 tbsp of oil in the wok and chuck in the garlic. After about 20 seconds, chuck in the prawns and stir-fry until they turn pink. Throw in the shallots, then stir in the vinegar mixture and let it bubble up, then tip in the noodles, vinegared radish, spring onions and peanuts and stir-fry for about 2 minutes or until the noodles have absorbed the liquid. Chuck in the beansprouts, sprinkle over the dried chilli, and once more stir through. Pile on to plates and scatter with coriander. Zing it up by adding rings of chilli and dribbles of hot fish sauce as you eat.
The Ballymaloe Cookery School

White and dark chocolate tiramisu

Makes 6 pots or you could put it all in one dish
2 medium eggs
caster sugar
500g mascarpone cheese
250ml double cream, plus 2 tbsp.
100ml strong, freshly brewed coffee
3 tbsp Kahlua liqueur, or other coffee liqueur
1 packet sponge finger biscuits
1 tbsp.shelled hazelnuts, roasted and ground
100g white chocolate, broken into pieces
150g dark bitter chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces

Using a hand whisk, beat the eggs with 2 tbsp of the sugar until pale, then beat in the mascarpone and the 2 tbsp. double cream until the mixture is smooth. Mix the coffee with another 2-3 tsp of sugar and the liqueur, then dunk each sponge finger briefly into this. Layer the soaked fingers into the base of each dish or pot, about four per serving. Dribble a tbsp. more of the coffee mixture over each, sprinkle with hazelnuts, then spoon the mascarpone on top, gently pushing down to fill any gaps.
Melt the white chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. As soon as it has melted, allow it to cool, just a little. Meanwhile, beat the double cream until it forms soft peaks, then beat the white chocolate into the cream. Spoon on top of the mascarpone, level off and refrigerate until needed.
To serve, melt the dark chocolate (in the same way as the white chocolate), then once cooled a tad, pour over each serving, and take to the table straightaway. Delicious.

Sticky Asian Pork and Herb Salad

3 tbsp unsalted skinned peanuts
500g free-range pork fillet (or chicken breast)
3 tsp five-spice powder
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 sticks lemongrass, trimmed and finely shredded
3 large mild red chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 shallots, finely chopped
3 tbsp Asian dressing (see recipe)
½ large cos lettuce or other crisp leaves, torn up
handful each of basil, mint and coriander leaves
1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded and shredded
4 spring onions, finely shredded lengthways
2 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil

Scatter the peanuts over a roasting tray, then toast in a 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 over for about 15 minutes, shaking once or twice, or until evenly brown all over. Then crush them to chunky crumbs. They’ll keep like this, sealed in a tub, for a good month or more – so do extra if you make lots of South-East Asian things.

Slice the meat into 1cm thick sections and toss with the five-spice powder. Then mix the sugar with the fish sauce, soy sauce, lemongrass, chilli, garlic and shallot, tip this over the seasoned sliced pork, and stir through. Leave to marinate for about an hour if you can – although the results are still damn good if you’re time-poor and have to sling it straight in the pan. Next, toss the Asian dressing with the torn-up cos leaves, herbs, cucumber, spring onion and toasted crumbled nuts.

Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan and fry the marinated port without moving for about 1 minute, then turn and fry for another minute, then sling over any remaining marinade and cook until varnished brown and sticky. To serve, fold the pork with all its caramelised bits and bobs through the dressed salad leaves and other ingredients. And dig in.

Asian Dressing

This is the dressing that turns bland into fantastic. It’s dairy free, oil free and – not that this ever dictates what I eat – it’s healthy, so a great one if you’re clocking the calories. It has to be a classic now. It’s simply what the Vietnamese use as a dipping sauce. Add a handful of crushed and toasted peanuts on top of any pile of bits and pieces tossed with this and you’re off. A little goes a long way, so use more sparingly than, say, a French dressing. And add a drop of oil, if you prefer. And if you want to use it as a dipping sauce, dilute with 1 tbsp of water.
2 small red bird’s eye chillies (finely sliced)
2 cloves garlic (crushed in a press)
3 tbsp caster sugar
4 tbsp each of fish sauce, lime juice and rice vinegar

Whisk together all the ingredients (or shake up in a screw-top jar) until the sugar has dissolved, then leave to stand for about 20 minutes to allow the chilli and garlic to do their thing. Easy.

Foolproof Food

Honey Roast Drumsticks from ‘Home Cook by Alastair Hendy’

This recipe evolves at home constantly – and every family has their own version. You can add some grated ginger if you have some.
8 chicken drumsticks or thighs, skin on or off
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp. runny honey
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp roughly chopped rosemary
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Lay the chicken across a roasting tin, then salt and pepper it. Next, dribble, spill and sprinkle over the remaining flavourings and oil, and then jumble the chicken pieces around a bit so they become well coated. Leave them like this until you’re ready to cook. Jumble through again just before you roast them.
Roast the tray of chicken in a 220C/ 425F/gas 7 oven for 35 minutes, remembering to turn the pieces over midway. Then remove the tin from the oven, cover with foil and leave on one side for 10 minutes, the meat will carry on cooking a little and will have time to relax and become succulent. I know they’re only legs but this relaxing time makes all the difference.

Hot Tips
4th Annual Slow Sea Food Festival at Baltimore – Sunday 30th May on the The Pier in Baltimore, West Cork.
Music all day by the ‘Cheesemakers’, over 20 Irish Producers selling their own food. Buffet using fresh fish caught at Baltimore and produce from local growers. It coincides with ‘The Baltimore Wooden Boats Festival’ and ‘David Owen’s Oyster Festival’ – so lots and lots of reasons to come! Contact Clodagh McKenna on 023-52977 or  

Galway Student in a league of his own 
At Irish Pork competition

Simon Tracey of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology cooked the winning dish for the Irish Pork Competition Final. The aim of the competition and cookery course, co-ordinated by Bord Bia, The Panel of Chefs of Ireland, the IAPP and the IFA, is to increase the presence of Irish pork on menus throughout Ireland and to educate students with regard to Irish Pork ‘from Farm to Fork’. 

Catering students from 8 IT Colleges nationwide participated in the final of the cookery competition, in which they cooked their chosen pork dish. Simon, from Ballinasloe was awarded a certificate, a trophy and a €1,000 cash prize. He also received sponsorship to the value of €2,000 for a pork related project to be carried out as part of his college course. All five finalists received a €250 book voucher and a gold medal. As part of the training course, students saw how pigs are reared, how a processing plant operates. They also received a presentation on Bord Bia’s Pigmeat Quality Assurance Scheme and a presentation on Research and Development in pig production by
Teagasc. One hundred and twenty students from colleges nationwide were involved in a series of information open days on pork production and processing. 

St Tola Organic Goat Cheeses – are produced by Siobhan Ni Ghairbhidh at Inagh in Co Clare – Siobhan was trained by Meg and Derrick Gordon, the original St Tola Cheesemakers –their commitment is to produce local organic hand crafted goat cheeses, whose flavours represent the characteristics of the locality. These cheeses are made on a daily basis and they are committed to organic farming and traditional cheese-making methods. They are finding pressure from cheaper processed substitutes and pressure on price rather than quality. They have ample supplies of the St Tola range and are listed with all the main wholesalers in Ireland – they are dependent on like-minded customers who are committed to quality regional foods, and whom they ask to support them by insisting on getting St Tola from their cheese wholesaler, or else contact them directly Tel 065-6836633 Fax 065-6836757

Avoca Cafe Cookbook

  1. Scallops, pea puree and mint vinaigrette
  2. 1 dessertspoon finely chopped shallots 1 dessertspoon butter 2 tablespoons white wine 200g frozen peas, or better still petit pois 2 tablespoons double cream 2 lemons 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar 4 tablespoons of olive oil, plus a little more for coating the scallops bunch of mint, finely chopped 8 large scallops juice of 1 lemon, plus lemon quarters to serve Gently soften the shallots in the butter for 5 minutes, add the wine and boil it away without allowing the shallots to colour. Add the peas and cream, and cook for barely 1 minute. Puree or push through a mouli-legume. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Combine the white wine vinegar, olive oil and mint, and season with salt and pepper. Preheat a frying pan or griddle pan until really hot. Gently toss the scallops in a little olive oil and then season with salt. Place on the hot surface of the pan and leave them alone. Cook for 2 minutes, turn and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. Gently reheat the pea puree and spoon on to 4 warmed plates. Place the scallops on top and spoon over some of the mint vinaigrette. Serve with a lemon quarter. Note: We don’t cook the scallop coral with the scallop as it over-cooks and goes hard by the time the scallop is done. Removing it is not difficult (you can cook it separately) and at the same time you need to remove the slightly gristly bit which is where the scallop is attached to its shell. Roast Parsnip Soup with Apple Crisps
  3. Gubbeen bacon, spinach and potato frittata
  4. Chicken, garlic, red wine and bay
  5. Mars Bar biscuits
In the introduction to the Avoca Café Cookbook Part 2, Simon Pratt expresses his fervent hope that this new book will become a dog-eared favourite in kitchens everywhere like its predecessor, the Avoca Café Cookbook. The original volume sold over 60,000 copies, it is still going strong – not
surprising, it’s a stylish, beautifully produced book, full of yummy ‘do able’ recipes, for the sort of delicious, honest, not overly-complicated food that Avoca have become famous for.Since the original cookbook was published two years ago the empire hasgro wn, there’s a café and Foodhall at the Suffolk Street shop, so now Leylie Hayes and her ace team run five restaurants. The secret as ever, is in the shopping. ‘More than ever we have a reinforced sense of the critical
importance of fresh good ingredients. Quality in, quality out. We have always strived to source the least processed, best raw materials. Perhaps above all, however, we insist on freshness. Organic is great, but if it has travelled half way around the world there is no point in that. So an emphasis on quality and local sourcing became a cornerstone of this second book’, according to Simon Pratt, Director with responsibility for food in the Avoca Group.
I’ve just managed to get a copy of the new book and I can tell its going to be a dog-eared favourite. Once again Leylie Hayes and Hugo Arnold  collaborated, so its double value.
For me, Hugo Arnold’s evocative and mouth-watering prose and Georgia Glynn Smith’s photos are worth the price of the book alone. But there’s also a gorgeous collection of recipes that makes you want to dash out to the nearest shop, farmer’s market or deli, to fill up your basket with spanking fresh ingredients so you can reproduce the food that Georgia has so evocatively photographed from Emer Rainsford, Fleur Campbell and Leylie
Hayes – Emer and Leylie are both past pupils of Ballymaloe Cookery School sowe are justifiably proud of them! We got delicious fresh scallops from O’Connells fish stall in the English Market last week and tried the Scallop with Pea Puree recipe – mouthwatering! Scallops are in season just now so do try this delicate shellfish for a real treat.
There’s also advice on menu planning, delimongering and suppliers.
Avoca Café Cookbook published by Avoca Handweavers, Kilmacanogue, Co
Wicklow. Price E24.99

Scallops, pea puree and mint vinaigrette

1 dessertspoon finely chopped shallots
1 dessertspoon butter
2 tablespoons white wine
200g frozen peas, or better still petit pois
2 tablespoons double cream
2 lemons
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons of olive oil, plus a little more for coating the scallops
bunch of mint, finely chopped
8 large scallops
juice of 1 lemon, plus lemon quarters to serve

Gently soften the shallots in the butter for 5 minutes, add the wine and boil it away without allowing the shallots to colour. Add the peas and cream, and cook for barely 1 minute. Puree or push through a mouli-legume.
Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
Combine the white wine vinegar, olive oil and mint, and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat a frying pan or griddle pan until really hot. Gently toss the
scallops in a little olive oil and then season with salt. Place on the hot surface of the pan and leave them alone. Cook for 2 minutes, turn and cook for 2 minutes on the other side.
Gently reheat the pea puree and spoon on to 4 warmed plates. Place the scallops on top and spoon over some of the mint vinaigrette. Serve with a lemon quarter.
Note: We don’t cook the scallop coral with the scallop as it over-cooks and goes hard by the time the scallop is done.
Removing it is not difficult (you can cook it separately) and at the same time you need to remove the slightly gristly bit which is where the scallop is attached to its shell.

Roast Parsnip Soup with Apple Crisps

Perhaps the sweetest of all the root vegetables, parsnips are an integral part of winter eating, their nutty robust flavour making them as good with roast meats as they are on their own.
3 parsnips, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 potato, finely diced
50g butter
600 ml light chicken stock
4 teaspoons crème fraiche
4 teaspoons chestnut puree
1 tablespoon snipped chives

For the apple crisps
1 Granny Smith or similar

Make the apple crisps well ahead, preheat the oven to 140C/gas mark 1, core the apples and thinly slice. Lay the slices on a baking tray and place in the oven for 2 hours, or until dried and crisp.
Preheat the oven to200C/gas mark 6. Toss the diced parsnips in the olive oil, season well and roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until well coloured.
Gently sauté the onion and potato in the butter over a low heat for 10 inutes, stirring occasionally. Add the roasted parsnips and the stock and simmer for 20 minutes, or until all the vegetables are soft. Allow to cool slightly, liquidise, then reheat and check the seasoning.
Garnish each bowl with a teaspoon of crème fraiche, a teaspoon of chestnut puree and the apple crisps, along with a few snipped chives.

Gubbeen bacon, spinach and potato frittata

This frittata serves 6-8. You will need to use a good frying pan 28cm diameter – non-stick and weighty.
250g smoked Gubbeen streaky bacon, cut into lardons
2 potatoes, cubed
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 handfuls of baby spinach
15 large eggs, lightly beaten and well seasoned

Saute the lardoons in a dry frying pan over a moderate heat until crispy.
Heat the oil, add the potato and shallow fry for 10 minutes, or until cooked. Add the eggs, bacon and spinach and stir gently until the bottom starts to set. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes and finish off in the oven, or under a moderate grill.


Chicken, garlic, red wine and bay

For such a short list of ingredients, this dish is decidedly full-flavoured.

The crucial item is the chicken – if it is good, then this dish is
sensational. The wine, too, is important, it should be something weighty like good Rioja.

Serves 6

2 free-range chickens, jointed into 8 and scored
8-10 tablespoons olive oil
12 bay leaves
3 whole heads of garlic, broken into cloves, skins left on
¾ bottle of red wine, such as Rioja

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed shallow pan, place the chicken in it, skin side down, and season well. Cook on a high heat for 10-15 minutes, turning once until golden brown on both sides. Add the bay leaves, garlic cloves and red wine, and cook for a further 20-25 minutes, uncovered, turning occasionally until the wine has reduced by a third. Serve with crusty bread to soak up the juices.


Pecan and maple streusel cheesecake

Serves 6-8
225g shortbread biscuits
35g unsalted butter (less if the shortbread biscuits are homemade), plus
more for greasing
625g cream cheese
225g light golden brown sugar
3 eggs
125ml whipping cream
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod (scraped)

For the streusel topping
25g butter
50g pecans, roughly chopped
75g shortbread biscuits, crumbled, but still with texture
25g light golden brown sugar

For the maple sauce
35g butter
50g caster sugar
75ml maple syrup
125ml cream

Preheat the oven to 140ºC/275ºF/gas mark 1. Butter a 23cm springform cake tin and line it with baking paper.
Crush the shortbread (the quickest way is between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper using a rolling pin). Melt the butter, mix the shortbread with it and sprinkle it over the base of the prepared tin. Beat the cream cheese and sugar together, then gradually beat in the eggs.
Stir in the cream and vanilla extract. Pour over the biscuit base and bake for 50 minutes to one hour. It should still have a slight wobble when cookedand it may have cracked, don’t worry, the streusel topping covers a lot.
To make the streusel topping: in a non- stick frying pan, melt the butter over a low heat. Add the pecans and cook gently for 1-2 minutes. Add the crumbled shortbread and sugar, and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Leave to cool slightly and then pour over the cake. Allow to cool to room temperature.
To make the maple sauce: put all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring slowly to the boil. Cook until the mixture has become a light caramel colour, about 5 minutes. Serve with the cheesecake.


Mars Bar biscuits

Makes about 16
200g butter
6 x 65g Mars Bars
200g Rice Crispies
250g milk chocolate

Cut the butter and Mars Bars into small chunks and place in a saucepan. Place over a low heat and stir until melted, taking care not to let it burn.
Combine the Mars Bar mixture with the Rice Crispies in a bowl and mix well. Put into a lined 30x 20x5cm tin and press down with the palm of your hand until firm.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Pour over the contents of the tin, spread evenly with a palette knife and leave to set. When firm, turn out on to a board and cut into squares.

‘Appetite’ by Nigel Slater

Eight or nine years ago I remember being asked if there was any natural successor to Elizabeth David or Jane Grigson emerging on the food scene. I replied without hesitation that I thought young Nigel Slater was certainly someone to watch, I no longer have any doubts, I am his biggest fan.

His new book ‘Appetite’ has me licking my lips all over again – he writes about food in the most irresistible way. Even if you never cook, never want to cook, don’t even want to be persuaded to cook, you should buy this book and keep it in the loo. Sneak a look at it every now and then, read a page or two and I guarantee you, you’ll never be the same again.

In this radical new book, Nigel Slater argues that we should not be slavishly following recipes, but following our instincts. ‘Appetite’ shows us how to break the rules, experiment with recipes and satisfy our appetite.

Slater gives us brilliant templates for a large range of classic dishes from a simple supper of chicken, wine and herbs, a big fish pie for friends, to a curry to make you sweat. With his unique blend of simplicity, wit and relish, he casts aside the insecurities of normal recipes. There are hundreds of ideas and suggestions for how you might adapt each dish to produce something quite different. Each recipe becomes a key to discovering a multitude of meals. Readers are liberated to use their own judgement and often encouraged to skip half the ingredients; at the end of each recipe are suggestions for changing or taking it further. A cheap spaghetti meal has eight variations, and soon you will start to discover combinations that are all your own.
Slater rejects the tendency to make our daily cooking too complicated, believing there is more pleasure to be had in good ingredients uncontrived. The first half of the book goes back to first principles and explores, among much else, shopping ingredient by ingredient and month by month, the basic kitchen kit, how to cut down the work and what goes with what.

Jonathan Lovekin’s photos are exquisite and don’t forget to read the chapter about the art of washing up.

‘Appetite’ by Nigel Slater, published by Fourth Estate, London, priced at £30 in Ireland and worth every penny.

Sophie Grigson’s Sunshine Food

Sophie Grigson, bubbly cook of the many earrings has a passion for the Mediterranean and not just the food, warmth and colour but also the home made drinks like Limoncello and Mint tea. In her newest book sunshine Food she captures the essence of holidays in the sun. Understandably Sophie’s ideal holiday spot is not the Cost de Sol. Asked to describe her perfect place, she searches out the ever diminishing number of small towns or villages off the beaten track, with perhaps a sandy beach, a small bar and an unpretentious restaurant frequented by the locals. “ Then absolutely critical, there must be ruins and local markets and narrow old streets to wander through”. The hotel or holiday house doesn’t have to be grand but certainly won’t be one of those concrete edifices that have mushroomed like some fungal disease all along the shores of the Mediterranean. Finally the food must be good honest gutsy food, not grand, but made with fresh local ingredients, cooked in the time honoured way without frills and fuss. It’s worth remembering that the Mediterranean is of course not just the south of France, Spain and Italy. There’s also Greece, Turkey, the Lebanon, Israel and North Africa , Egypt, Tunisia and on finally to Morocco. The sunny food of these countries is immensely seductive to us northerners and Sophie seems particularly fond of the robust flavours of Morocco, Sicily and Greece. Sophie Grigson’s Sunshine Food Published by BBC Cooks £20.00 Sterling


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