Island Life – Inis Meáin

I’m sitting with my back to a stone wall on Inis Meáin – on Ireland’s western seaboard – watching islander Padraic McDonagh hand threshing rye in the time honoured way. He chooses a flat lime stone area and then he made a little circle of sheaves to catch the seed. He grasps a sheaf and bashes it against a flat stone which he has propped at a perfect angle. When all the seed is threshed out he carefully collects every grain to replant for his next years crop of rye. The precious straw will be used to thatch his sheds and outbuildings. I feel hugely fortunate to come upon this gentle islander threshing his rye in a way that may date back thousands of years. It makes me wish I’d come to Inis Meáin thirty years ago.

Each of the Aran islands are truly unique and offers a different experience, understandably island life has changed dramatically in the last few decades; nonetheless it was quite a shock and a delight to discover that many of the older inhabitants of Inis Meáin – the least visited of the Aran Islands – have little or no English. All the native islanders speak a beautiful lilting Irish quite unlike the ‘civil service’ Irish I learned in National School. Not being a native speaker I connected the island with and Inis Meáin knitwear of which I’ve been an avid admirer for many years and more with the writings of John Milligan Synge. However I was eventually lured to the island by glowing descriptions of Ruairí and Marie Thérèse de Blacam’s little guest house rather incongruously named Inis Meáin Suites.

So how does one get there? There are regular ferries from Rossaveel and Doolin. Guests are met by the grey Inis Meáin ‘shuttle’ and transported way up the hill from the new harbour past an occasional white washed and sometimes thatched cottage and past the little meadows each surrounded by stark and beautiful dry stone walls. There were a few cattle here and there, a profusion of wild flowers, brambles and sloes and occasional potato ridges full of floury spuds that have been grown in a mixture of sand and seaweed. Red seaweed, kelp and black sea bladder wrack each deliver its own minerals. The islanders have collected seaweed on Caladh Mór and around the island since time immemorial and have gradually built up the soil on the solid rock face of Inis Meáin.

Ruairí de Blacam was reared on the island but educated in Blackrock College.

His mother Áine was and still is the school teacher on the island. During his gap year he went to work in an Irish pub in Germany and soon realised that cooking and playing music were a lot more appealing than college. He did a month long apprenticeship with John Desmond on Heir Island off Baltimore, Johnny, a brilliant chef and teacher kindled his passion for beautiful fresh local produce, simply cooked. Back in Dublin, Ruairí pestered Johnny Cook until he took him into his kitchen. The message was further reinforced there and on ‘stages’ in Italy, Austria and Paris. Friends urged him to open a restaurant in Dublin but he longed to return to his native Inis Meáin to open a B&B and a restaurant, a brave brave step but Ruairí knew as did his father before him that people will make a detour for quality – Inis Meáin knitwear is sold in the swankiest shops in London, New York and Tokyo…

The low slung stone building tucked into the landscape was designed in conjunction with his uncle’s firm de Blacam and Meagher. There are just four suites each with a twenty foot long window with superb views across the island, across the Twelve Pins in Connemara and Black Head.

When dinner starts with a little bowl of warm periwinkles – picked off the rocks just below the restaurant at Caladh Mór, you know you’re on the right track. The short menu illustrates the brilliance of keeping it simple. We had three delicious dinners there, gorgeous crab salads, one with mango salsa and another with celeriac remoulade and roast peppers. The juicy T bone steak came from their animals reared on the island. Ruairí served it with tiny roast carrots and parsnips and a big bowl of floury spuds again grown by Ruairí under the guidance of his maternal uncle. Lobster, like the crab, are caught in pots by the island currach fishermen.  Scallops are from the Inis Meáin bank less than a mile from the island’s coast, and spanking fresh hake is fished by local trawlers. For pudding, gorgeous crème brulee, crumbles and tarts made with apples from a local orchard. Ruairí also served crúibíní that he had picked which I think must be wild redcurrants close to the small – no one knew the English name. Deceptively simple and delicious food.

Ruairí and his wife Marie Thérèse (who hails from Midleton) are determined to produce as much of their own produce as possible. They recently acquired a couple of traditional breed, saddleback pigs so there will be succulent home produced pork on the menu before too long. After dinner we wandered up to Teach Ósta Inis Meáin pub to chat and listen to the locals speaking beautiful Irish. There are no night clubs or discos, no hurdy gurdies or juke boxes and no chicken nuggets but there is Teach Synge where the playwright stayed on the island, Dun Chonchúir (Connor’s Fort) and breathtakingly beautiful walks and timeless landscape with many prehistoric monuments – makes for a relaxing and refreshing break as Ruairí and Marie Thérèse wish for you. Booking is essential so plan ahead – well worth the detour.

Around 9pm In the morning a breakfast tray loaded with goodies arrives in your room – warm smoked mackerel, boiled eggs, good natural yogurt, home made muesli and fresh berries, freshly baked and still warm scones and soda bread, homemade marmalade and jams and maybe a slice of craftily cut pineapple – there’s plenty for a picnic later. The fridge and cupboards in the bedrooms are stuffed with tempting goodies, a far cry from the usual mini-bar offering, Green and Black dark organic chocolate, Ortiz tuna, Farmhouse cheese, Gubbeen chorizo, Carr’s water biscuits, good wine and Irish apple juice.

Everything has been carefully selected and thought through. There lots to do on the island. Two mountain bikes sit outside the suite and a couple of fishing rods are ready and baited for those who would like to catch a few mackerel to cook for supper.

Inis Meáin was recently awarded the Best Restaurant in Connaught by Food and Wine Magazine.


Cáca Risíní

We ate this delicious Cáca Risíní when we visited Áine and Tarlack de Blacam’s house on Inis Meáin.

450g (1 lb) white flour, preferably unbleached

110g (4 oz) mixed fruit – raisins and sultanas

½ level teaspoon bread soda (bicarbonate of soda)

½ level teaspoon baking powder

no salt

sour milk or buttermilk to mix – 350-400 ml (12-14 fl ozs) approx.

1 x 21cm (8 inch) round tin


3 x small loaf tins 7cm (5 ½ inch) length and 6cm (2 ½ inch) depth

First fully preheat your oven to 230ºC/450ºF/regulo 8.

Sieve the dry ingredients into a bowl, rub in the butter and add the dried fruit. 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 softer than white soda bread but not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together divide it between the well greased tin or tins. Bake in the preheated hot oven. If baked in the larger round tin bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the tin and turn upside down in the oven for 10 minutes. In the smaller tins, bake for 15 minutes at 230ºC and 15 minutes at 200ºC then out of the tin, turn upside down for 5 minutes or until fully cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: it should sound hollow. Cool on wire rack, slice and eat freshly baked with a little butter slathered over each slice.

Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites Brown Bread




Makes 2 loaves



750g (1lb 10oz) self raising flour

3 fists wholemeal flour 275g (10oz)

2 fists wheat bran 250g (9oz)

1 teasp bread soda

400ml buttermilk

400ml water

2 x 20cm loaf tins

NB – this is based on Marie Thérèse’s fist size which is very, very big. Depending on how big your hands are, adjust the amount of liquid, more than likely downwards!

Preheat oven to 210ºC/425°F/Mark 7 and grease 2 x 20cm long loaf tins. Mix the dry ingredients together by hand in big bowl and make well in centre.

Pour half of liquid in and mix very lightly by hand. Pour remainder of liquid in and mix very lightly by hand. Divide the mixture in-between the tins. Bake in a preheated oven for 30-35mins turning midway for even baking. Turn out onto wire rack to cool

Cáca Tanaí



Cáca Tanaí literally means thin bread


Makes 7 to 8 cáca tanaí

If you need bread in hurry this griddle bread is a perfect and delicious solution. Halve the recipe and make the dough as above. Heat a griddle or heavy iron frying pan over a medium heat, take a fistful of the dough (approximately 6oz) roll it into a very thin round (scant ¼ inch) Slap onto the hot griddle or pan. Cook for four to five minutes on each side. Serve immediately on a floured board with butter and chosen topping.


Ruairí Blacam’s Island Crab with Celeriac Remoulade



“I have rarely needed to write down anything that we plate up in the restaurant because the food we serve is really quite simple. The key is the produce and the produce is king. Elizabeth David’s famous quote ‘first catch your chicken’ comes to mind. So, for a decent crab salad first catch your crab!”

To serve four people you will need a dozen good sized claws. Drop them into a big pot of salted boiling water for 4 minutes.

To cook the crab claws quickly and accurately you should use no less than 5 litres of water. The more the merrier. Getting the meat out is the fun part. Use the back of a heavy kitchen knife to crack the claws and make sure to double check that there are no little bits of shell through the meat.

In a large bowl, julienne a small sized celeriac on a Liam óg O’Flynn, more commonly known as a mandolin. Add the following and mix the whole lot together.

5 tablespoons of mayonnaise, 5 tablespoons crème fraiche, 2 tablespoons chopped non pareil capers, 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons of chopped flat leaved parsley, 2 teaspoons of chopped tarragon, 2 teaspoons of chopped chives, salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Evenly share the crabmeat between 4 plates, likewise the celeriac remoulade and finish off with a nice little tuft of rocket. Eat.


Marie Thérèse de Blacam’s Inis Meáin Apple Sponge


Serves 18


225g (8oz) butter

50g (2oz) caster sugar

2 free-range eggs

350g (12oz) white flour


250g (9oz) butter

350g (12oz) caster sugar

6 free-range eggs

350g (12oz) flour

2 rounded teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons milk


6 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1 heaped tablespoon brown sugar

1 rectangular baking tray 40 x 30 x 4cm (16 x 12 x 1.5in)

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

Make the pastry first and leave in fridge overnight if possible. If you are short on time, you can divide the pastry into 2cm thick discs, wrap in cling film and place in freezer making sure the disks are not touching each other. Leave for no more than 30mins in freezer to chill while you are preparing the sponge and filling. However the pastry is a little bit more difficult to work with this way, than if you refrigerate it overnight and then take out of fridge 15mins before rolling.

To make the pastry, cream the butter and sugar together in a food mixer, add the egg and beat for several minutes. Add the flour, turn out onto a floured surface, flatten into a round to chill overnight or smaller discs for the freezer as described above.

To make the sponge, cream the butter in a food mixer, then add the caster sugar and mix well. Add the eggs gradually and mix well between each addition. Sieve the flour and baking powder and mix in gradually. Add the milk and mix lightly.

Grease the baking tray with butter and dust with flour. Turn the pastry out onto a well floured surface. Roll the pastry to a thickness of 3-4mm (1/8in) and line the baking tray base with it. As it can be difficult to move such a large layer of thin pastry to the tray at once, this can be done in two separate pieces that each line half the tray, using your finger to blend the two halves together in the middle

Prepare the apple slices and spread gently and evenly on top of the pastry. Sprinkle with brown sugar.

Spread sponge mixture gently on top of apple slices.

Place tray in oven. After 10mins turn tray to make sure the sponge browns evenly. Check after a further 10mins and again after a further 5mins turning as necessary (total baking time approximately 25mins). It is done when the sponge is an even golden brown. Leave to stand and cool a little in the tin before portioning into 18 slices. Delicious served warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream.


Wild Food




Periwinkles can be found all along the coast of Ireland. Cover with cold fresh water and leave to soak for at least 1 hour, longer if possible. You’ll need to cover the bucket because they make a valiant and determined effort to escape, which can be a bit unnerving. Discard the water and cook.



fresh live periwinkles

boiling salted water (6 ozs (170g) salt to every 4 pints (2.3L) water

homemade mayonnaise or vinegar (optional)

Bring the water to the boil, add the salt and the periwinkles, bring the water back to the boil, strain off the water and allow the periwinkles to get cold. Pick the periwinkles out of the shells with a large pin. Eat on their own or with mayonnaise. Some people like to dip them in vinegar.




If you are shopping in Newbridge pop into the Silverware Restaurant in the Visitors Centre – delicious freshly made cakes and coffee in the morning – homemade dishes for lunch and many temptations. A lovely spot to get together with friends. Don’t forget to run upstairs to visit the Museum of Style Icons while you are there. Contact 045488439

Saturday Pizza – For just three hours every Saturday, Philip Dennhardt cooks delicious pizzas in the wood burning oven in the Garden Café at Ballymaloe Cookery School. It’s the best fun, you can watch as Philip makes the pizzas in the traditional way. He uses fresh seasonal ingredients from the organic farm and gardens and the local area. There’s always a Pizza Margherita but for Pizza of the Week see



National Organic Food Week

National Organic Food Week, now in its sixth year continues to gather momentum. The raison d’être for the week long campaign from Monday 13 to Sunday 19 September is to raise awareness about organic food and where to buy and enjoy it.During the Celtic Tiger era in Ireland the demand for organic produce grew year after year. At present, there are approximately 1500 registered organic farmers and 1.25% of arable land is being farmed organically in contrast to the European average of 4%. Now that we are in more challenging times the ‘true believers’ depending on their circumstances have continued to seek out organic produce or have decided to grow their own and possibly keep a few hens also. Some farmers who were tempted by the extra supplement offered to organic farmers under the REPS scheme have reverted now that the scheme is under review. Bord Bia estimated the organic farming market was worth €124m in 2009 and is projected to grow to €239m by 2013.


The Ballymaloe Cookery School farm has been organic for over a decade. We have built up the fertility of the soil by regular applications of well rotted farm yard manure, compost, seaweed and the use of green manures.

We grow in excess of 85 crops, all be it in small quantities, year round. We also keep a few cattle for beef, free range traditional breeds of pigs for pork sausages and cured meats. Two gentle Jersey cows provide milk and cream to make homemade butter, yoghurt and a few simple cheeses. As a result we regularly sit down to meals where every single thing on the plate including the butter and cream comes from the farm or our neighbours – such a joy and for me that is real luxury – much more thrilling that owning a pair of Louboutins or a Prada handbag – whatever turns you on!

People regularly argue about whether organic food tastes better or not, as ever it’s difficult to be dogmatic, the skill of the grower affects the quality, variety affects flavour and freshness is of paramount importance. Organic food that comes from half way across the world may not have any chemical residues but it is unlikely to make you go ‘wow’ when you taste the first forkful.

So look out for fresh, local organic Irish produce at Farmer’s Markets and neighbourhood shops. Seek out and subscribe to organic vegetable box schemes so you will have a year round supply of vegetable for yourself and your family. Some of the best also include free range eggs, fresh herbs and maybe a recipe of the week and advice how to prepare and cook unfamiliar produce.

Check out the Bord Bia website for news of over 70 events around the country during National Organic Week, including Portumna Forest Picnic on Sunday 12th of September. The picnic takes place from 12 noon to 4pm and admission is free.. Peter Ward from Country Choice, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary is organising the annual Blas an Fhomhair organic lunch on Sunday 19th September.

In addition to nationwide events, Bord Bia will host the National Organic Awards 2010 on Tuesday 14th September, alongside a one day trade conference on the opportunities within the German organic market. I myself will do a talk at the Nano Nagle open on how to make the most on cheaper cuts of organic meat cuts in the Nano Nagle Centre, Ballygriffin, Co. Cork on Wednesday 15th September at 6:30pm.There’s all sorts of exciting events to choose from – how about an Organic Apple juicing demonstration at Trevor’s Kitchen Garden, 37 Tara Cove, Balbriggan. Co. Dublin.

All around the country, there are organic farm walks, tastings of organic food in shops and super markets and some like Urru in Bandon are giving a 10% discount on all organic food in the store.

Teagasc has scheduled its National Organic Conference entitled ‘Challenges and Opportunities for Organic Producers’ in Birr, Co. Offaly on Thursday 16th September.


Eric Treuille’s Thai Lime and Organic Coconut Chicken

Eric Treuille and his wife Rosie own the iconic Books for Cooks in Blenheim crescent in London. Eric has written several excellent cookbooks.


Serves 8


2 organic lemon grass stalks

3 organic fresh green chilies, seeded and chopped

2 organic garlic cloves, chopped

3 organic spring onions, chopped

1 handful fresh coriander leaves

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground coriander

grated zest of 1 organic lime

3 tablespoons lime juice

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon fish sauce

125ml coconut milk

8 boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts, butterflied

salt and black pepper


fresh Mango or Papaya Sambal (see recipe)


To Serve



Little Gem lettuces


Butterflying a chicken breast.


With one hand on the breast to hold it in place, slice through the middle horizontally to cut almost in half. Open out flat.


Remove and discard the tough outer skin from the lemon grass stalks and roughly chop. Put lemon grass, chillies, garlic, spring onion, fresh coriander, cumin, pepper, turmeric, ground coriander, lime zest, lime juice, ginger, fish sauce and coconut milk in food processor or blender; pulse until smooth. In a bowl, toss the chicken with the lemon grass mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Grill over medium-hot coals until the chicken is opaque with no trace of pink – approximately 3 minutes per side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve hot with fresh mango or papaya sambal in little gem lettuce leaves.




Make marinade up to 3 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate. Marinate chicken up to 4 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate.


Organic Mango or Papaya Sambal


Makes 225g (8oz) approximately


1 ripe organic mango or organic papaya peeled and diced

1/2 organic red onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed organic lemon juice

1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)

1 teaspoon sugar

1-2 tablespoons

roughly chopped coriander

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Put the mango, chopped red onion, freshly squeezed lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and coriander in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix gently. Cover and allow the flavours to mingle for 30 minutes. Serve chilled or at room temperature.


Aubergine and Tahini Dip: baba ghanouj

There are loads of lovely organic aubergines at present so make the most of them with this delicious Middle Eastern dip.

Makes about 550 g(1 lb 3 oz)

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 organic aubergines

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2-4 organic cloves garlic, peeled and left whole

3 tbsp light tahini paste (sesame paste)

juice of 1 organic lemon

125 ml (4 171 fl oz) Greek-style yoghurt

2 tbsp chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 190°C (375ºF/gas mark 5)

Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over a baking tray. Cut the aubergines in half lengthways and place skin side down on the tray. Drizzle with another tablespoon of the olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Add the garlic to the tray and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the garlic and aubergines are soft.

Once cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop the flesh from the skin of the aubergine. Discard the skin and put the flesh into a food processor with the garlic, tahini, lemon juice and the remaining olive oil. Blend until smooth and transfer to a bowl. Alternatively, place all the ingredients in the bowl and puree using a hand-held beater. Allow to cool.

Once cool, fold in the yoghurt and almost all of the parsley. Check the seasoning, adjusting if necessary, then spoon into a serving bowl and scatter with the remaining parsley.


Heirloom Organic Tomato Salad with Basil, Olive Oil and Runny Honey


The Ballymaloe Cookery School stall at the Midleton Farmers’ Market has a unique selection of organic heirloom tomatoes in all shapes and sizes. Red, yellow, black, striped, round, pear shaped and oval. They make a divine tomato salad and are wonderful with fresh buffalo mozzarella and lots of fresh basil.

Serves 4

8 very ripe organic heirloom tomatoes

salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil

1–2 tablespoons organic lemon juice

2 teaspoons runny honey

2 teaspoons fresh basil leaves, torn

Cut the tomatoes into 5mm (1⁄4 inch) thick slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix the oil, lemon juice and honey together. Add the basil leaves, pour the mixture over the tomatoes and toss gently. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary. A little freshly squeezed lemon juice enhances the flavour in a very delicious way.

Pickled Organic Carrots with Star Anise


Scott Walsh a talented chef from Ballymaloe House came up with this recipe.

10 organic carrots, peeled and sliced thinly lengthways on a mandolin

600 ml (1 pint) unsweetened carrot juice

100 g (3 1/2 oz) castor sugar

200 ml (7 fl oz) white wine

200 ml (7 fl oz) white wine vinegar

200 ml (7 fl oz) water

250 ml (9 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil

bunch of tarragon and thyme

8 star anise

2 tablespoons coriander seeds, whole

10 black peppercorns

Place all ingredients into a wide stainless steel saucepan, bring to the boil, then simmer gently until carrots soft. Allow to go cold before serving.


Green and Black Organic Chocolate Chip Cookies


Makes about 36-40, depending on size

In season: All year

225g (8ozs) butter

200g (7oz) brown sugar

165g (6oz) castor sugar

2 eggs, preferably free range

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

350g (12 oz) plain white flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

150g (5oz) Green and Black 70% broken into pieces

100g (3 1/2 ozs/ 2/3 cup) chopped nuts – hazelnuts

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

Cream the butter add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add in the egg bit by bit, then the vanilla extract.

Mix the dry ingredients together and fold them in. Lastly, add the Green and Black chocolate pieces and the chopped nuts.

Divide the mixture into 7g (1/4 oz) pieces, for teeny weeny pieces, or 25g (1oz) for medium sized or 50g (2oz) for American style cookies onto baking sheets. Remember to allow lots of room for spreading. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, depending on size. Cool for a few minutes on the tray and then transfer to wire racks. Store in an airtight container.


Fool Proof Food

Hot Buttered Oysters on Toast

These wonderfully curvaceous oyster shells tend to topple over maddeningly on the plate so that the delicious juices escape. In the restaurant we solve this problem by piping a little blob of mashed Duchesse potato on the plate to anchor each shell.

12 Pacific (Gigas) oysters

25g (1oz) butter

1/2 teaspoon parsley, finely chopped

To Serve

4 segments of lemon

4 ovals of hot buttered toast (optional)

Open the oysters and detach completely from their shells. Discard the top shell but keep the deep shell and reserve the liquid. Put the shells into a low oven to heat through. Melt half the butter in a pan until it foams. Toss the oysters in the butter until hot through – 1 minute perhaps.

Put a hot oyster into each of the warm shells. Pour the reserved oyster liquid into the pan and boil up, whisking in the remaining butter and the parsley. Spoon the hot juices over the oysters and serve immediately on hot plates with a wedge of lemon.

Alternatively discard the shells and just serve the oysters on the hot buttered toast. The toast will soak up the juice – Simply Delicious!






Our Friends in the North – Sweden

Slow Food has brought me to many remote places around the globe in search of ancient cultures and indigenous foods. Recently I found myself in Sápmi (Samiland) in northern Sweden – the land of the midnight sun; it was bright almost all night.

Since time immemorial an indigenous race called the Sami have lived in an area called Sápmi that extends across four countries from the Kola Peninsula in Russia to northern Finland, Norway and Sweden. At present there are about 80,000 Sami whose main occupation is reindeer herding, handicrafts, hunting, fishing and more recently tourism.

Throughout history indigenous people have been oppressed. Their land has been confiscated, their cultures have been suppressed and in some cases they have been victims of genocide. The Sami have had their share of challenges over the centuries however in 1993 the Sami government was set up by Act of Parliament. In 1998 the Swedish government apologised to the Sami people for Sweden’s oppression. There are still disputes about ancestral land rights but much progress has been made and this year a representative of the Sami will lead the procession of indigenous people at the opening of the Slow Food Terre Madre event in Turin from 23rd – 27th October, 2010.

The Slow food National Councillors meeting was held in Hemavan in Sápmi this year so we had the opportunity to learn about their food and culture. Like all indigenous tribes they live in harmony with nature. The Sami language is extremely rich, for example, they have over a hundred words for snow. Traditionally their diet consisted of a lot of reindeer and elk meat, fresh, dried, salted and smoked. Every scrap of the deer is utilised as well as the hide for clothing and rugs, the antlers for handicraft and the bones for handles of cutlery, whistles, paper knives… In Summer, they eat more fish and vegetables, in late Summer and Autumn, a variety of berries, wild mushrooms and fruit. They bake lots of delicious dry crisp breads before they go up the mountains to herd, it’s stored for months and then dampened and warmed again before they eat it.

We were invited to a Sami village called Daelvie to see their way of life and beloved reindeer. The entire year of the semi-nomadic Sami revolves around reindeer herding, they follow the deer throughout the seasons – up the mountain slopes in summer and down into the forests in winter. In May they mark the ears of the young ‘calves’ – each family has a distinct mark; September is slaughter month by then the calves are about six months old. Every scrap of meat is either eaten fresh or preserved and the surplus is sold. Reindeer is some of the purest meat on earth – very high in vitamins, minerals and omega 3 – the animals graze on wild herbs, lichens, grasses, young shoots and bark. The meat is absolutely delicious; we ate it in a myriad of ways, fresh, dried, salted, and smoked, in sausages and burgers, often in conjunction with a wild mushroom sauce. Lingonberries, and other wild berries are used for sauces, preserves and desserts. One evening we had cloudberry jam with waffles and cream. Cloudberies look like yellow raspberries, and grow in mossy areas and in the tundra.
We also ate wild mushrooms in many guises, morels and delicious chantrelles in a soup, little quiches and as a sauce with reindeer and artic char – the latter is a pink fish with pale flesh not unlike trout. The wild mushrooms are dried during the season and are much loved.

Sami are expert at preserving – in the past their very survival depended on it. Originally they stored food in underground water holes now freezers are more common. In early Spring – they eat the young shoots of rowan and beech and make a soup from spruce leaves and a syrup from the needles.

Angelica grows wild; the young stalks are peeled and eaten raw as a vegetable or candied as a sweetmeat.

They also pick buckets of wild sorrel in early summer and cook it in a little water until it wilts. Then it can be stored for months. They eat it with a blob of whipped cream and some sugar sprinkled on top – this was a revelation – totally delicious full of vitamin C – the oxalic acid is diluted by cream and milk.

The Sami women also explained that the children love to eat bilberry flowers in early June in the mountains. When I walked up the hill I nibbled some, they tasted of sweet honey.

As with many indigenous communities, they know the medicinal value of each plant and food and are passionate about passing on the skills, language, music and traditional dress (gakti) to the younger generation who seem to be hugely proud of their culture and heritage.

Years ago they lived in simple dwellings called Goahti and Lavvu. The latter was a portable tepee-like hut, the former was a permanent dome shaped structure consisting of a timber frame sealed with birch bark and covered with turf or sods of earth. Nowadays they are more likely to live in a typical Swedish timber house.

We had a wonderful feast in the village, of local food from the valley and surrounding area including dried reindeer (Suovasa) a product recognised as unique to the Sami by Slow Food who created a presidia to protect it.

They sang us some of the haunting traditional yoiks, made us coffee in smoked blackened kettles over the open fire and gave us slices of delicious homemade rhubarb Swiss roll. Here are some recipes that are typical to the Sami for you to enjoy.

Peppered Venison Salad with Horseradish Cream, Rustic Roast Potatoes, Red Onions and Chives


Serves 4 – 6




450g (1 lb) loin of venison, trimmed of all fat and gristle

4 tablespoons cracked pepper


Rosemary and Honey Vinaigrette


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon sunflower oil

1 tablespoon wine vinegar

Pinch of salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon honey

1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary

1 teaspoon mustard

Horseradish Cream

Rustic Roast Potatoes

1 small red onion, thinly sliced


3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons vinegar

Pinch of salt


2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

4 handfuls of mixed salad leaves

To Assemble

First make the vinaigrette. Put all the ingredients together in a jar and shake together, taste and adjust seasoning. Make the horseradish cream (see recipe).

Cook the rustic roast potatoes.

Marinade a thinly sliced onion in the sugar, vinegar and salt for 10 –15 minutes.

Cut the venison into 5mm (¼ inch) medallions.

Rub one side of each slice of venison with cracked pepper.

Heat a frying pan and sauté the venison in hot olive oil, season and cook very fast until just medium rare. While the venison is frying, toss the salad leaves in a little dressing and divide between four large plates or one large serving dish. Arrange the rustic roast potatoes around the sides of the plate. When the venison is cooked place the medallions overlapping, on top of the salad. Arrange a few slices of red onion over the venison. Drizzle with horseradish cream and sprinkle with chopped chives. Serve immediately.


Horseradish Cream


A nice big chunk of horseradish keeps for ages in the fridge or pantry. The Sami use it for lots of dishes.


Horseradish grows wild in many parts of Ireland and looks like giant dock leaves. If you can’t find it near you, plant a root in your garden. Watch out, it’s very prolific so plant it in an area of the garden where you don’t mind if it spreads.


Serves 8 – 10


3-4 tablespoons grated horseradish

2 teaspoons wine vinegar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

(see recipe)


teaspoons mustard


teaspoons salt

Pinch of freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

250 ml (8 fl ozs) whipping cream


Scrub the horseradish root well, peel and grate on a ‘slivery grater’. Put the grated horseradish into a bowl with the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Stir in the cream but do not over mix or the cream may curdle. It will keep for 2-3 days: cover so that it does not pick up flavours in the fridge.


This is a fairly mild horseradish sauce. If you want to really clear the sinuses


increase the amount of horseradish!4 ozs (110g) plain flour

4 eggs, organic and free-range

4 ozs (110g) castor sugar

2 tablespoons warm water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

rhubarb and ginger jam

whipped cream

Swiss Roll tin 1 x 10 inches (25.5cm) x 15 inches (38cm)

First make the rhubarb jam. Then make the Swiss roll.

Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas Mark 5.

Line a large Swiss roll tin with greaseproof paper cut to fit the bottom of the tin exactly. Brush the paper and sides of the tin with melted butter, dust with flour and castor sugar.

Sieve the flour. Years ago, we would put the eggs and castor sugar into a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk the mixture until it is light and fluffy. Take it off the heat and continue to whisk until the mixture is cool again. (Now we use an electric mixer, so no heat is required.) Add the water and vanilla extract. Sieve about one-third of the flour at a time and fold it into the mousse using a large metal spoon.

Pour the mixture gently into the tin. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes.

Meanwhile put a sheet of greaseproof paper on the work top, sprinkle with castor sugar. The Swiss roll is cooked when it feels firm to the touch in the centre, the edges will have shrunk in slightly from the sides of the tin. The Swiss roll must be rolled up immediately; if it gets cool it will crack. Turn the Swiss roll out onto the sugar coated paper; spread a layer of rhubarb jam evenly over the surface. Roll tightly with the help of the paper. Keep covered with the greaseproof paper until cool.


To serve

Unwrap and cut into 3/4inch (2cm) thick slices and serve with softly whipped cream.

Waffles with Cloudberry Jam

Makes 12

Cloudberry jam is easy to find though expensive in Scandinavia if you can’t find it substitute your favourite jam or fresh summer berries.

175g (6ozs) white flour

15g (1/2oz) sugar

a pinch of salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

350g (12ozs) milk, slightly warmed

50g (2ozs) butter, melted

2 eggs, free-range and organic if possible, separated

cloudberry jam

whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Preheat waffle iron. Sieve all the dry ingredients into a deep bowl. Make a well in the centre. Mix the warm milk, melted butter and whisk in the egg yolks. Gradually pour the milk and egg yolk mixture into the well stirring continuously to make a smooth batter. Whip the eggs whites stiffly and gently fold into the batter.

Heat the waffle iron. Pour a 75g (3oz ladle of batter onto the hot iron. Allow to cook for 3-4 minutes until crisp and golden on both sides.

Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve hot with a blob of cloudberry jam in the centre and some softly whipped cream or ice cream.

Swedish Medals

These are the most delicious chocolate and apple shortbreads.

Makes 10-12


200g (7 ozs) plain white flour

50 g (2 ozs) icing sugar

zest of 1 small organic lemon

100 g (3½ ozs) butter

1 small beaten egg (you may not need all of it)

Apple Filling

2 dessert apples, I like to use Cox’ s Orange Pippin

100 g (3½ ozs) vanilla sugar

Chocolate Icing


Serve with roast beef, smoked venison or smoked mackerel or eel, also great with pickled beetroot.

Rhubarb Swiss Roll – Sami Style


Serves 8 – 10

Swiss roll

200 g (7 ozs) dark chocolate

40 g (1½ ozs) butter

200 ml (7 fl oz) cream

2 baking trays

First make the biscuits, sieve the flour and icing sugar into a bowl, add the finely grated lemon zest. Grate the chilled butter on the coarse part of a grater (or chop into cubes). Add to the dry ingredients, toss and rub in until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add just enough egg to mix to a dough (it shouldn’t be wet or sticky). Cover with Clingfilm, flatten into a round and chill for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile peel and chop the apples. Put into a small stainless steel saucepan with a teaspoon of water and the vanilla sugar (or plain sugar with a few drops of vanilla extract). Put on a low heat, cover and cook to a soft thick pur̩e Р8-10 minutes. Turn out onto a plate and allow to cool.

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

Roll out the biscuit dough to a thickness of 2-3 mm/⅛ inch. Use a 6-7 cm/2½-2¾ inch ‘cookie’ cutter or even a glass to stamp out rounds. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 7-8 minutes or until pale golden. Allow to rest for a minute or two, then transfer carefully to a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, put the chocolate and butter into a Pyrex bowl over a saucepan of water. The base of the bowl should not touch the water. Bring the water to the boil, turn off the heat and allow the chocolate to melt. Using a small palette knife spread half the biscuits with the chocolate icing keeping a 2 mm/â…› inch border around the edge. Leave on a wire rack to set.

Meanwhile whip the chilled cream quite stiffly. Put into a piping bag with a star nozzle.

To assemble, put a teaspoonful of thick sweet apple sauce in the centre of half the biscuits. Pipe a ring of cream around the apple sauce. Top each one with a chocolate ‘medal’. Serve immediately with tea or coffee as they do in Sweden but we also love them as a dessert.


Buffets are the perfect way to entertain any number of guests with the minimum of fuss.

Ballymaloe Cookery School are teaching a one day Ballymaloe Buffet Course. This includes dinner in Ballymaloe House on Sunday, 5th September 2010 – to give students the opportunity to see how the buffet is presented – followed by a full day of cookery demonstrations the following day. There are still some places left – book online or telephone 021 4646785.

You need to know about a very exciting new pub – Woodford on Paul Street in Cork City is the brainchild of Jacque and Eithne Barry and follows the same ethos, food from Cork, well sourced and sustainable. The yummy lunch menu includes Roast Tomato, Red Pepper and Chilli Soup and Shepherds Pie – Made From Slow Braised Shoulder Of Lamb. 021 4253932u 

The Real Thing

My goodness, it’s the end of the world as I know it! Last week my two and half year old granddaughter Amelia Peggy came along clutching an iphone and told me she wanted to show me how to make a cake! She pressed several buttons in the maddeningly confident way that all kids do and opened and an app’ called Cake Doodle. Up popped lots of pictures of cakes, every shape and size – “which one shall we make grandma?” pipes up the aspiring cook, I choose a three tier chocolate confection. Ping – up comes the recipe, then the bowl, Amelia touched each ingredient on the list and whoosh they leap into the bowl, up come the eggs, Amelia taps the screen with the side of her hand to crack the eggs one after the other they leap into the bowl. Then she stirs all the ingredients around, until well mixed and turns the phone on its side to pour the mixture into the tin. Next it’s popped into the virtual oven.

Now there are more decisions to be made – what coloured icing – it has to be pink, everything in Amelia’s life has to be pink at present so she presses the shocking pink icon and then spreads the lurid icing over the three tier cake with the tip of her finger. Next we have a choice of decorations, heart shapes, stars, flowers, princesses… Amelia chooses princesses, she dotted about 15 over her cake and then at last it was ready to eat. By now Amelia was beside herself with excitement, again she tapped the virtual cake on the screen with her tiny index finger, each time putting it into her mouth as though she was eating the cake. The iphone emitted realistic sound effects throughout, pouring, swishing, egg shell cracking, mixing and finally appreciative noises. I wondered if she would have a virtual tummy ache having eaten it all in one go! Amelia and all the children love this app’ and fusty old grandma doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry! But the good news is Amelia also loves to help her mum and grandma to bake real cakes. She particularly loves to make crumpets on the cool plate of the Aga, using a flexible egg slice to flip them over. Here are several simple recipes that children will love to make and bake and share.

Raspberry Buns



As far as I can remember, these buns were the very first thing I helped my Auntie Florence to bake. My grandchildren love filling the holes with jam, just as I did.

Makes about 10

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


225g (8oz) self-raising flour

75g (3oz) caster sugar

75g (3oz) butter diced

1 organic egg

1 tablespoon full cream milk

homemade raspberry jam

egg wash

caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7.

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

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

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

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

Joshua’s Carrot, Coconut and Sultana Muffins



A lovely recipe which we have adapted from a super little book called ‘Grow It Cook It’ written by Amanda Grant published by Rhyland Peters and Small.

Makes 12

225 g (8 oz) carrots

3 eggs, preferably free range

140 g (4½ oz) pale soft brown sugar

6 tablespoons sunflower oil

150 g (5 oz) self raising flour

1 tsp mixed spice

70 g (3 oz) desiccated coconut

75 g (3 oz) mixed dried fruit eg. sultanas

A muffin tray lined with 12 paper cases

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4.

Wash, peel and grate the carrots finely. Crack the eggs into a large bowl, whisk with a whisk until lightly beaten. Add in the sugar and continue to whisk until light and creamy. Gradually add in the oil whisking all the time. Mix the flour, mixed spice, coconut, sultanas and carrots. Then stir gradually into the base mixture until it is well incorporated. Use a tablespoon to divide the mixture as evenly as you can between the muffin cases. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until firm and golden. Remove from the oven with oven gloves. Cool the muffins on a wire rack. They are delicious as they are but even yummier with some cream cheese icing on top

Cream Cheese Icing



3 ozs (75g) cream cheese

1 1/2 ozs (45g) icing sugar

1 1/2 ozs (45g) butter

grated rind on 1/2 orange



Mix all the ingredients together and spread over the top of the carrot muffins. Sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds or pumpkin seeds, crystallized flowers if you fancy.

India’s Candied Orange Squares


My grandchildren love to make these; they can use a palette knife to spread the icing and then get creative making patterns on top with the candied peel

Makes 24


6 ozs (175g) soft butter

6 ozs (175g) castor sugar

2 eggs, preferably free range

6 ozs (175g) self-raising flour

Orange Butter


rind of 2 oranges – finely grated

3oz (75g) butter

3 1/2 oz (100g) icing sugar

Candied Orange Peel


10 x 7 inch (25.5 x 18 cm) Swiss roll tin, well greased

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/regulo 4.

Put the butter, castor sugar, eggs and self-raising flour into a food processor. Whizz for a few seconds to amalgamate. Spread evenly in the well-buttered tin. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes approx. or until golden brown and well risen. Meanwhile make the orange butter. Cream the butter with finely grated orange rind, add the sieved icing sugar, beat until light and fluffy. When the cake is cooked, leave to cool. Spread the orange icing over the cake. Cut into squares. Decorate each one with little diamonds of candied peel.



























Amelia Peggy’s Crumpets

Amelia’s Aunty Rachel showed her how to make these delicious crumpets.

  Makes 12

110g (4ozs) self-raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

25g (1oz) caster sugar

pinch of salt

1 egg

110ml (4fl ozs) milk

drop of sunflower oil, for greasing

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add the sugar and salt and stir to mix. Make a well in the centre, crack in the egg and whisk, gradually drawing in the flour from the edge. Add the milk gradually, whisking all the time, to form a smooth batter.

Lightly grease a frying pan and warm it over a moderate heat. Drop 3 tablespoons of the batter into the pan, keeping well apart so they don’t stick together. Cook for about 2 minutes or until bubbles appear on the surface and begin to burst and the crumpets scones are golden underneath, then flip them over and cook on the other side for a minute or until golden on this side as well.

Remove from the pan and serve warm with butter and jam, apple jelly, lemon curd or if you are like my grandchildren, chocolate spread! (If you wish, wrap the crumpets in a clean tea towel to keep warm while you make the rest.)



Lucca’s Almond Macaroons

These are so simple to make and can easily keep for 4-5 days in an airtight container. Pop a peeled almond into the centre of each one, before baking for extra crunch.

Makes 12-16


110g (4ozs) ground almonds

75g (3ozs) caster sugar

1 egg white, lightly beaten


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


Put the ground almonds, caster sugar and the egg white into a bowl and stir to combine. It should be firm, but slightly sticky. Roll small dessertspoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly with a wet fork. Cook for about 10 minutes or until pale golden. Cool on a wire rack.





These are also good with the grated zest of 1 lemon or orange mixed in with the coconut/almonds and sugar.


Desiccated coconut can also be used instead of ground almonds in the above recipe.



Willow’s Tropical Fruit Smoothie



My granddaughter Willow likes to use Kara coconut milk in this recipe, she gets this from Well and Good Health Food Shop in Midleton but you could try your local health food store.

2 slices of melon

I ripe banana

1 mini pineapple or ¼ of a full sized pineapple

1 big orange juiced

450 ml (16fl oz) Kara coconut milk


Peel and chop all the fruit and put it into the blender, add the coconut milk and whizz. Add honey to taste. Willow pours this into chilled glasses and shares it with her little sister India, mum and dad.


The proliferation of food festivals around the country manifests a deep craving for real local food but leaves us with a dilemma many tempting events are on the same dates.

The Midleton Food Fair is on Saturday 11th September 2010



 The main street in Midleton will be buzzing with interesting stalls, tempting you to have a taste of the best of East Cork. Midleton Farmers market will be celebrating their 10th anniversary. Visit 

for the full program. 

for the many, many interesting food events and dinners. Ludlow Food Festival in Shropshire –

10th to 12th September 2010 is the mother of all UK food festivals. Sadly clashing with the above events, nonetheless, I know several serious Irish foodies who make a pilgrimage there every year. Ludlow was Britain’s first successful food and drink festival when it started back in 1995, still the most famous and they maintained the original philosophy of highlighting only the great food and drink that’s available in the Marches. Check



– innovative West Cork artisans, Alan and Valerie Kingston have added yet another delicious product to their range. They already have a nationwide following for their thick rich cream, yogurts, cheese cakes and farmhouse butter. Their new Homemade Lemonade Cordial is unrelated to their dairy range but equally irresistible. It’s wonderfully concentrated so add lots of water and ice cubes or sparkling water to dilute to your taste. Contact 028 31179 –




Tiffany Goodall, First Flat Cookbook

Tiffany Goodall was dragged kicking and screaming to the Ballymaloe Cookery School by her parents in September 2004. They earnestly hoped that their ‘wild child’ would enjoy a few months away from the bright lights in the middle of an organic farm in East Cork Ireland. Tiffany was appalled; it was like being dumped on another planet without a return ticket. But East Cork worked its magic and now Tiffany is a passionate foodie with an eye out for a strong farmer with a good parcel of land so she can keep chickens, a couple of pigs and grow organic vegetables. Meanwhile the beautiful blonde chef is in London doing guest appearances on TV and at Food Shows, has already written one best selling cookbook called ‘From Pasta to Pancakes’ – she’s recently moved into her first real flat.

“The transition from carefree student at college or university to becoming a professional, young earner and of course young foodie is the biggest change I have embarked on yet. Gone are the days of student loans, overdrafts, endless lie-ins and the misty morning hangover. Hello to work, earnings, busy life and responsibility. My first flat was a major milestone in my life.”

Tiffany moved into her new place last summer and it was both exciting and nerve racking. While at university she lived in a house of six girls, suddenly it was just her and another girlfriend and they could no longer ignore the council tax papers and the nasty brown envelopes with windows. .

When they first moved in, the kitchen was a disaster. Zero equipment, not even a chopping board or frying pan. So not only did they have to shop for food, but they also had to buy some basic kitchen kit. But behind every cloud there is a silver lining and that experience prompted Tiffany to write a book for others facing the same traumatic situation.

The book called ‘First Flat Cookbook’ published by Quadrille is perfect for young people with busy lives and a small budget. What equipment should you buy? What food should you get in? When you have a 9 – 5 job, how do you make time to shop or cook? Tiffany passes on her tips and you’ll find that with a bit of planning you can eat well, save money and consequently really enjoy the precious time you have at home.

There are recipes for nights you’re in on your own, and others for mid-week get-togethers. When you’re in a rush the chapter of 10-minute meals will feed you even faster than a takeaway, and then when you’ve got time to treat yourself there’s a chapter of cakes, puddings and other irresistible naughtiness. There are lazy weekend breakfast and brunch ideas, a selection of dishes to impress a hot date, and clever ideas for easy, speedy party food.

If you want to eat well you’ll need to be thrifty and savvy with your budget. Tiffany has lots of tips to help you to save money and sassy ways to use leftovers in a delicious way. The trick is not to waste anything, if you’ve got a bit of leftover chicken don’t chuck it, there are lots of delicious ways to reinvent it. Maybe add it to pasta or make a yummy chicken salad the next day, and a few leftover breakfast sausages can be transformed into a sausage stew for dinner.

First Flat Cook Book would make a terrific present and here are a few recipes to whet your appetite.

Chicken and Coconut Laksa



serves 1

Shopping List


60g (2½oz) rice noodles

1 tablespoon sunflower oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1cm/½inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped finely

1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped finely

1 spring onion, chopped finely

1 teaspoon fish sauce

juice of 1 lime

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

400ml/14fl oz can coconut milk

200ml/7fl oz chicken or vegetable stock (optional)

1 chicken breast, cut into strips

handful of bean sprouts (optional)

handful coriander leaves

lime wedge

Place your rice noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan or wok, and when hot add your garlic, ginger, chilli and spring onion. Cook on a medium heat for 1–2 minutes. You don’t want them to colour but rather just start to smell fragrant. Add the fish sauce, lime juice and sugar and stir well. Reduce the heat and add the coconut milk. Follow with the chicken, allowing it to slowly poach in the coconut milk for 5–7 minutes until it is tender. Finally add the bean sprouts and cooked rice noodles. Serve sprinkled with coriander and with a wedge of lime.

My Fish in a Flash



serves 1

Get a roasting tin, chuck in some seasonal vegetables, and lay a piece of fish on top. Add a bit of garlic and a slug of oil and in 8–10 minutes you’re laughing. This recipe works wonderfully with pollack, coley or haddock. Coley is a very under-used and thus ethical choice with cod being so over-farmed.


Shopping List

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 small red onion, chopped

½ teaspoon red chilli flakes

1cm/½ inch piece ginger, peeled and grated

2 garlic cloves, peeled and bruised

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 x 300g/10½oz fillet of white fish, such as haddock, pollack or salmon

juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Place the tomatoes and red onion in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle over the red chilli flakes. Add the ginger and garlic cloves and drizzle over the olive oil. Mix well. Now lay the fish fillet on top of the veggies, skin side down, and season with salt and pepper. Squeeze the lemon over the top. Let the juice run through your fingers so you can catch any pips. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar, and then place in the hot oven for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and check it’s cooked. The flesh should now be opaque. Serve with the roasted veggies. The tomatoes should be soft and bursting. I also like to eat this with a handful of baby spinach leaves and maybe a little French dressing

Tiff’s Tips

Salmon is a little bit more of a treat but its creaminess works brilliantly with these slightly sweet flavours. When you cut it through the middle after 8 minutes it’ll be just perfectly cooked. If you’re really hungry and want a more hearty supper, serve it with some penne pasta. This technique would also be ideal when cooking chicken.


Any extra roasted vegetables can do double duty for dinner the following night. Simply toss them through some cooked pasta, drizzle with olive oil, and then give it all an extra bit of bite by adding some Parmesan shavings.

Amatriciana Penne Pasta Bake



serves 2

This is a great twist on the classic Amatriciana sauce and it is a great speedy supper.

Shopping List


250g/9oz penne pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 red onion, chopped finely

1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped finely

2 garlic cloves, crushed

200g/7oz pancetta cubes or bacon lardons

400g/14oz canned chopped tomatoes

100g/3½oz mascarpone

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

100g/3½oz Gruyère cheese, grated

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the grill to hot. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add the penne pasta and cook for 6–8 minutes, according to the packet instructions. Meanwhile make the amatriciana sauce. Drizzle the olive oil into a pan and when warm add the onion, chilli and garlic to soften for about 2–3 minutes. Then increase the heat and add the pancetta cubes. Fry for a couple of minutes until crispy. Now add the tomatoes and season well. Simmer for a few minutes, then stir in the mascarpone and parsley. Drain the penne and add it to the amatriciana sauce. Stir well, taste and season. Tip it all into an ovenproof dish and sprinkle the grated cheese over the top. Place under the hot grill for 3–5 minutes until golden. Serve with a lovely crisp salad and dive in. Heaven.

How to Make Risotto



Mellow Pumpkin and Sage Risotto

serves 4

Risotto rice is a fantastic staple to have in your cupboard. The chances are you’ll always have some stock cubes and a splash of leftover wine – then you can just throw all sorts into your risotto, depending on what you have lurking in your fridge.

Shopping List


800ml/28fl oz chicken or vegetable stock

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to serve

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

½ small onion, peeled and chopped finely

6–8 sage leaves, chopped finely, plus extra to garnish

300g/10½oz Arborio rice

1 glass of white wine

1 butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled and roughly diced

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

sage leaves, to garnish

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring the stock to the boil and then keep it at a low simmer while cooking the risotto. In a separate pan heat the oil and when warm add the garlic and onion, followed by the sage leaves. Stir and then leave to sweat until soft – this should take about 5 minutes on a low heat. Increase the heat a little and add the Arborio rice, then the white wine, if you’re using it, and keep stirring until it is absorbed. Add the cubed squash and a ladleful of stock, and stir again until absorbed. Keep doing this for about 20 minutes until the rice has expanded and is soft and creamy. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Now add the butter and Parmesan. Turn the heat off and let it sit for a couple of minutes while the cheese and butter melt. Serve drizzled with olive oil and garnished with some fresh sage leaves.

Hearty Spiced Bean Stew with Sausage



serves 4

Shopping List


4 tablespoons olive oil

6–8 sausages

1 red onion, chopped finely

3 garlic cloves, peeled, bruised but left intact

1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped finely

150g/5½oz pancetta/bacon lardons (optional)

1 bunch of thyme, rosemary or both

350g/12oz canned cannellini beans

800g/1lb 12oz canned tomatoes

1 glass red wine

1 teaspoon sugar

basil leaves, to serve

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Take a heavy frying pan and add 2 tablespoons of the oil. When hot, fry the sausages for 5–8 minutes until golden brown and then set aside on a plate. Wipe the pan clean and then add a splash of the remaining olive oil. Add the red onion, garlic, and red chilli, and soften over a medium heat for 4–5 minutes. Increase the heat and then add the pancetta or bacon lardons, if you’re using them. Fry for 3–4 minutes until soft and slightly crispy. Now add the thyme and/or rosemary, cannellini beans, tomatoes, red wine and cooked sausages. Add the sugar and season well. Cover and cook for 1–2 hours on a very low heat. Just 1 hour is fine, but if you have the time 2 hours just matures and strengthens the flavours. Serve with mash or pasta, for example fusilli, gigli or even tagliatelle. Serve with some lovely basil leaves on top.




This freezes very well for up to a month or it’s lovely for lunch on a crispy oiled ciabatta half with some rocket and basil over the top. You could also blitz it, add some hot stock and make a delicious soup.

Epic Greek Lamb Burger



makes 4

I got the inspiration for these delicious burgers on a trip to a London food market – they were heaving with cumin and zingy mint. I recreated them at home and came up with this recipe. With the herbs, fresh tsatsiki and the hot halloumi to finish it’s brilliant for an easy yet innovative weeknight supper.

Shopping List


500g/1lb 2oz lamb mince

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

½ red onion, chopped finely

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped finely

2 sprigs mint, chopped

1 teaspoon lemon juice

5 tablespoons olive oil

125g/4½oz halloumi cheese, cut into slices

4 ciabatta rolls, opened

rocket leaves, to serve

salt and freshly ground black pepper





6 tablespoons plain yoghurt

2 tablespoons crème fraîche

cucumber, chopped finely

teaspoon cumin

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon juice

In a large bowl mix together the lamb mince, cumin, coriander, red onion, garlic, rosemary, mint and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and bind the mixture together with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Shape the lamb mixture into four burgers and put them in the fridge for 5–10 minutes to firm up.

Meanwhile make the tsatsiki. Mix the yoghurt, crème fraîche, cucumber, cumin, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. Season and set aside. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over a medium heat then add the burgers. Cook for 4–5 minutes on each side. Gently fry the halloumi slices for 2 minutes on each side until they are golden brown. Now place the ciabatta rolls on a dry pan, under the grill or in a grill pan to toast for a couple of minutes on each side. Assemble your burgers. Place the rocket leaves on one half of the toasted rolls, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bung on the burger and top with delicious tsatsiki and a slice of halloumi. Put the top bun op top. Serve with a big green salad, absolutely delish!

Tiff’s Tips

When pan frying the burgers don’t try and turn them too much, as they are quite delicate until the sugars in the meat caramelise and give the burger a crust below. Then you can turn them after about 4 minutes.

Hot Tips

While making journey from Cork city to West Cork Coast via Dunmanway there is a very good little café in Ballineen – the ideal stopping point to stretch your legs and have a meal or tea and scones. Susan Fehily is very talented in the kitchen and is focused on sourcing quality local produce. Her quiches are fast becoming famous and you’ll be hard pushed to choose a dessert from the tempting list and she serves very good coffee too – well worth the stop. Located down a small lane behind Fehily’s Supermarket on Bridge Street, Ballineen (023) 8847173 or email 

 If you’re travelling from Cork to Dublin it’s well worth making a quick detour to pick up some treats from The Gallic Kitchen in Abbeyleix. Sarah Webb has a wonderful selection of cookies, tarts, cakes, pies, preserves and she also stocks Castlewood Organic Bacon, black pudding from Inch House in South Tipperary, Laois Honey

Open seven days a week 10am to 6pm. Main Street, Abbeyleix, Co Laois 0866058208



Stevie Parle – London

A few months ago I wrote a piece on a new young chef called Stevie Parle who is making waves on the London food scene. Stevie was on of the youngest students we ever had on our 12 Week course. He was just 17 years old when he signed up for the January 2002 Certificate Course. He like many young people was fed up with ordinary school – he just wanted to cook.

Stevie is an erudite young chef with a blistering pedigree. Aged just 24, he has already worked at the River Café with Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray, for Skye Gyngell at renowned Petersham Nurseries and at the landmark Moro with Sam and Sam Clark. When he set up his pop-up Moveable Restaurant with Joseph Trivelli last year, fashion leaders clamoured to eat at the twice monthly word-of-mouth supper clubs, one of which was hosted by Nigella Lawson. Now, Stevie runs and cooks at the Dock Kitchen in Portobello Docks, where he also continues the highly successful supper club tradition.

Stevie has worked and lived in Tokyo, New York and Sri Lanka, as well as bussed biked, walked and boated all around India, Ireland, Morocco, Italy and south east Asia, picking up recipes magpie like where ever he goes. The London Evening Standard named Stevie and pop-up restaurant partner as the capital’s hottest young chefs.

Stevie lives with his wife on a red barge, the Avontuur, moored at Hammersmith in west London. They keep a pontoon allotment and a dry land plot, and growing fruit and vegetables has become one of Stevie’s passions.

It’s definitely my book of the year so far… My Kitchen – Real Food from Near and Far is an eclectic collection of food and recipes from Stevie’s life in food so far, gleaned from his travels and his intimate knowledge of ingredients. It is a charming mixture of anecdote, tales from his Hammersmith houseboat and wonderful recipes, as well as occasions from his life such as a ‘Ligurian supper for friends, who would prefer to be on holiday but instead have to work’ and Early morning on the deck, watching the cherry blossom on the bank’.

Divided into 12 monthly chapters, the dishes are based around seasonal bounty and Stevie’s global inspirations. Though his influences are incredibly wide, Stevie understands the rules of food and doesn’t mess with the classics, instead finding new ways to approach old recipes, using his vast creativity and impeccably trained craftsmanship. Within each chapter, Stevie gives a master class about a single foodstuff, with the aim of teaching readers how to cook better by watching subtle changes in the pan and by paying attention to the life cycles of fresh produce. If you thought you knew garlic and how to cook it for instance, Stevie may well show you there is more to learn. My Kitchen is a unique cook book from a stunning young culinary talent.

Stevie is one of two young chefs and cooks chosen by Quadrille Publishing for their exciting new cookery book series entitled ‘New Voices in Food’.

Here are some of Stevie Parle’s recipes from the book for you to enjoy…

Coconut Broth with Squash or Potato



This typically Sri Lankan dish is very quick and easy to make.

serves 6 as part of a big selection

200g (7oz) waxy potatoes or sweet squash, in 2cm (1 inch) dice,

1 red onion, chopped very small

1 or 2 hot green chilli, left whole

a small handful of fresh curry leaves,

1 garlic clove, green shoot removed, chipped

1cm (1/2 inch) fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped

a knife tip of turmeric,

25 or so fenugreek seeds, whole

½ tsp black pepper, finely freshly ground

1 tsp Maldive fish or 1 anchovy fillet, rinsed and salted

500ml (18fl oz) coconut milk,

lime juice, to taste

Put everything except the coconut milk and lime in a pan. Pour in 250ml (9floz) water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the potato or squash is soft. Add the coconut milk, salt and lime, to taste.

Couscous with Broad Beans



A delicious mixture that makes an excellent breakfast. Here it worked well as part of a mixed table.

serves 4

200g small fresh broad beans, podded

200g fine couscous (not the coarse or pre-cooked),

olive oil

1 small spring garlic clove

1 tsp cumin seeds

4 tbsp thin yogurt, preferably homemade

2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

Briefly boil the beans in unsalted water (salt toughens the skins), then place in a bowl with the couscous. Sprinkle with salt and 1 tbsp olive oil. Rub everything between your hands to coat in oil. Pour over enough hot water to cover, and leave until it is absorbed (about 15 minutes).

Crush the garlic with salt to a fine paste. Toast the cumin in a dry pan. When it crackles, grind with the garlic, adding the yogurt and some black pepper. Mix the couscous with the yogurt and coriander, check the seasoning and serve with a little more olive oil.


Aubergines, Walnuts, Mint and Yogurt


“This is my favourite dish in our local Persian restaurant. It’s great as a dip. I generally eat it all, much to the dismay of my wife Nicky.”

serves 4 as part of a spread

2 large aubergines

1 spring garlic clove

a few mint leaves

15 walnuts, shelled

100ml (3½fl oz) olive oil

50g (2oz) white Arabic cheese or feta

1 lemon

Roast the aubergines whole under the grill or on the barbecue until the skin is black and the aubergine has almost collapsed. This will take about 20 minutes. Put in a colander to cool. Crush the garlic; add the mint, then the nuts. Crush to a paste, and then add the oil and cheese. Mash everything up until smooth. When the aubergines are cool, remove the skin and put the flesh in a bowl, then pour over the walnut mixture. Squeeze over the lemon juice and mix, squashing the aubergines to a smooth mush. Taste for balance and salt. Eat at room temperature.

Cashew Nut Curry



“One of the best and simplest Sri Lankan dishes I have found. Use a salted anchovy fillet if Maldive fish flakes or dried sprats prove elusive.”

serves 6 as part of a big selection

300g (10 ½ oz) raw cashew nuts

300ml (10fl oz) coconut milk

½ tsp turmeric

¼ tsp chilli powder

2cm (3/4 in) cinnamon stick

½ tsp/2 fish Maldive fish or dried sprats
or 1 rinsed and salted anchovy fillet

¼ tsp anise seeds,

1 tbsp sunflower oil

20 curry leaves

Put all the ingredients except the oil and curry leaves in a saucepan and simmer for about 10 minutes, then season with salt. Pour the oil into a frying pan and, when hot, throw in the curry leaves until they crackle. Mix the leaves through the curry and serve.

Lamb, Okra and Tomato Tashreeb



Tashreeb is a common Iraqi dish; though it is unusual to us. The word comes from sharaab, ‘to drink’, referring to the way the pitta bread under the stew drinks up the liquid.

serves 6

1 tbsp allspice berries, ground

1 tsp coriander seeds, ground

1 tsp unsmoked paprika or mild chilli powder

1 small lamb shoulder on the bone

olive oil

6 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole

15 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 dried lime, left whole

2 tbsp pomegranate molasses (if you have some)

500g (18oz) small fingers of okra

6 pitta breads

Rub the spices on to the lamb and season well with salt and pepper. Heat a wide pan that will accommodate the whole shoulder with a bit of space to move.

Fry the lamb gently in olive oil until well browned. Be careful not to burn the spices. Throw in the garlic, then the tomatoes and dried lime.

Add water to almost cover the lamb and pour in the pomegranate molasses, if using. Cover and cook gently until the lamb is tender. It might take two hours, depending on the age of the animal and the speed of cooking. Gently is better; just about bubbling.

When the lamb is soft, add the okra and put the pitta bread in a medium oven until it is hard. When the okra is tender, tear the lamb from the bone and put it in a large, shallow bowl with the pitta bread, then pour over the tomato, okra and cooking liquid.

Tandoor Chicken



serves 2 very hungry people

2 large tsp cumin seeds

2 large tsp coriander seeds

2cm cinnamon stick

1 tsp peppercorns

½ tsp turmeric

2 large tsp Kashmiri (mild) chilli powder

1 slim wedge small red onion

4 garlic cloves, green sprout removed

2 large mild red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

200ml rich yogurt,

1 chicken, spatchcocked

Toast the cumin in a dry pan over low heat until it smells slightly smoky and starts to crackle, then chuck it in a large pestle and mortar (you could use a blender but it’s not as good, or as rewarding). Add the coriander, cinnamon and peppercorns and grind to a fine powder. Add the turmeric, chilli powder, onion and garlic and a good amount of salt. Grind to a fine paste. Add the chillies and yogurt. Rub the chicken well with the paste. Leave at room temperature to marinate for a few hours.

When you are ready, get your barbecue going, but spread the coals well so it is not too hot. Lay the chicken as flat as you can and barbecue on both sides until cooked through. Pay particular attention to the legs. Eat with Naan bread, lime pickle and a cold beer.

Chocolate, Hazelnut, Brandy and Espresso Cake



“I love having so many of my favourite things in one recipe. This is a great cake I could eat at any time of day.”

serves 10–12

300g (10 ½ oz) really good butter, plus more for the tin

6 eggs

250g (9oz) caster sugar

400g (14oz) really good dark chocolate,

300g (10 ½ oz) whole, skinned, roasted hazelnuts

1 big tbsp bitter cocoa

6 espressos or 150ml (5fl oz) very strong cafetiere coffee

100ml (3½fl oz) brandy

Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Butter a 20cm springform tin, then line with greaseproof paper. In an electric mixer, mix the eggs with the sugar very fast for about 10 minutes; it should triple in volume. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (make sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water). Grind the hazelnuts and cocoa together medium-fine; don’t carry on for too long or they will turn oily. Add the coffee and brandy to the chocolate, then mix this concoction into the eggs. Gently mix in the hazelnuts and pour into the tin.

Bake for 40 minutes until dry on the top and not too wobbly beneath.

Madelines St John-style



Based on the excellent recipe from Fergus Henderson. He browns the butter and doesn’t add orange flower water. (They are great that way, too.) I cannot work out what the variable is that gives them a proper Madeleine dimple on the top; sometimes you get it and sometimes you don’t. You will need a Madeleine tray.

makes about 24

135g unsalted butter, plus more for the tray

2 tbsp good floral honey

1 tbsp orange flower water

3 large eggs

15g soft brown sugar

110g caster sugar

135g self-raising flour, sifted, plus more for the tray,

Melt the butter with the honey, then pour in the orange flower water and set aside to cool. Whisk the eggs and sugars in an electric mixer for 10 minutes or so, until they are really fluffy. Fold in the flour, then the butter and honey mixture. Pour into a container and leave the batter to rest for at least three hours in the refrigerator (sometimes I leave it overnight and it seems fine). Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. Butter a Madeleine tray, then dust with flour and tap off the excess. Fill the moulds two-thirds full, and then bake for 10 minutes or so until golden brown and firm to the touch.




Hot Tips

Gourmet Greystones Event or phone Denise Bevan on 086 8916715

It rare nowadays to see a traditional 3 or 4 tier wedding cake, it’s more likely to be a pyramid of cupcakes or a killer chocolate confection. But it’s funny how fashion goes around in food as in everything else. My daughter recently had the ‘retro’ wedding cake of her dreams complete with happy bride and groom on top and exquisitely iced with delicate royal icing, by Mary Cahill from Gourmet Gateaux and More! 021 496686 or 087 2396758

Taste of Kildare or by calling David Russell at The K Club on (01) 6017200.


Lee Tiernan, head chef at St John Bread and Wine, London

Tel: 087 287 8215 will be giving another demonstration at Donnybrook Fair Cookery School – a simple, delicious no nonsense approach to cooking with pigs’ ears, tails, trotters and heads! Friday 20th August 2010 at 7:30 to 9:30pm €35.00. Contact Carmel McWilliams starts on Monday 16th August and is set in the Victorian walled garden of the K Club – join in the week long celebration of local flavours. Food & Craft Festival is on Sunday 22nd of August from 12 noon until 5pm. More details on the day are available through the Taste Kildare website on Sunday 5th September 2010 celebrates the restaurants, cafes and gourmet food shops in the award winning coastal town of Greystones, Co Wicklow. For more information contact

How the British Fell in Love with Food

The British Guild of Food Writers was founded on April 12th 1984 when a small group of food writers met over a superb lunch, amongst them Jane Grigson, Elizabeth David, Arabella Boxer and Michael Smith. The purpose was to start an association of Britain’s culinary scribes. 25 years later there are almost 400 members who include some of the most influential voices in food writing and broadcasting. To celebrate a quarter of a century the British Guild of Food Writers has published ‘How the British Fell in Love with Food’. It’s a fascinating historical record from the arrival of avocado in our supermarkets in 1970s to the food blogs of the 21st century. It’s a fascinating read and includes some superb examples of creative food writing as well as some delicious recipes, here are a few to whet your appetite.


Harold Wilshaw’s Avocado Salad

Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book – Michael Joseph

There is no need to restrict this salad to Summer. It works well with frozen broad beans.

1 ripe avocado

lemon juice

olive oil

salt, pepper

250 g (8 oz) shelled broad beans

soured cream

chopped parsley

Peel and dice the avocado, sprinkling it immediately with lemon juice, oil and seasoning. Cook the beans, and then skin them – this is essential. Arrange beans and avocado on a plate, preferably a bright pink plate to show off the different greens. Pour over a little soured cream and sprinkle with parsley.

Jill Norman’s Ceviche

The Complete Book of Spices – Dorling Kindersley

In this Mexican hors d’oeuvre, the fish is tenderized by marinating in lemon juice for several hours.

Serves 4

175 g (6 oz) salmon

175 g (6 oz) brill or turbot

175 g (6 oz) cod fillet

juice of 2–3 lemons

1–2 fresh green chillies, seeded and finely chopped

1 small mild onion, chopped

1/2 avocado, peeled, stoned and cubed

2 tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped

125 ml (4 fl oz) olive oil

handful of coriander leaves, chopped

salt and pepper

Remove any skin or bones from the fish and cut the flesh into small cubes. Put the cubes into a dish with the lemon juice, turn to coat all the fish and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 5 hours. Drain the lemon juice from the fish and combine with the chopped vegetables, olive oil and coriander. Season with salt and pepper to taste and pour over the fish in a serving dish. Leave in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Peter Gordon’s Grilled Scallops with Sweet Chilli Sauce and Crème Fraîche

The Sugar Club Cookbook – Hodder and Stoughton

Peter Gordon first put this on his menu in July 1995 and it has only come off when storms prevented divers collecting scallops. The chilli sauce recipe makes more than you need, so keep the surplus in the fridge for other dishes.

Serves 4

12 large diver-caught scallops, trimmed

sesame oil

salt and pepper

watercress leaves

½ cup creme fraiche

Sweet Chilli Sauce

10 cloves of garlic, peeled

4 large red chillies, stems removed

3 thumbs of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 thumb of galangal, peeled and roughly chopped

8 lime leaves

3 lemon-grass stems, remove the two outside leaves, discard the top third of the stem and finely slice the remainder

1 cup fresh coriander leaves

11/2 cups unrefined golden caster sugar

100 ml (5 fl oz) cider vinegar

50 ml (31/2 fl oz) Asian fish sauce

50 ml (13/4 fl oz) tamari

Put the first seven ingredients of the chilli sauce in a food processer and

puree to a coarse paste.

Put the sugar in a saucepan with 4 tablespoons of water and place on

a moderate heat, stirring well until the sugar dissolves. When it has, remove the spoon and turn the heat up to full. Boil for 5–8 minutes and do not stir until it has turned a dark caramel colour (but don’t allow it to burn). Now stir in the paste, bring the sauce back to the boil and add the last three ingredients. Return to the boil and simmer for 1 minute. Leave it to cool before eating. Lightly oil the scallops with sesame oil and season, then grill each side on a char-grill, overhead grill or skillet for 90 seconds. Sit them on a bed of watercress, put a dollop of crème fraiche on top and drizzle generously with sweet chilli sauce.


Anna Del Conte’s Tagliatelle al Limone

Gastronomy of Italy – Bantam Press

“For me the lemon tree is the most beautiful tree there is, magical in the way that it can produce both flowers and fruit at any time of the year. The flowers known as zagara have a pungent yet delicate fragrance; they contain essential oils used in the production of eau-de-Cologne.”

Serves 4

tagliatelle made with 200 g (7 oz) Italian 00 flour and 2 free-range eggs,








500 g (1lb 2oz) fresh tagliatelle,


250 g

(8 oz) dried egg tagliatelle

40 g (1 1/2 oz) unsalted butter

grated rind and juice of 1 organic lemon

3 tbsp chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, sage, rosemary and chives

150 ml (1/4 pt) double cream

salt and freshly ground black pepper

40 g (1 1/2 oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Melt the butter in a small heavy saucepan. Add the grated lemon rind, the chopped herbs, cream, salt and pepper. Bring slowly to the boil and simmer, stirring constantly, for a couple of minutes. Add the lemon juice to the pan and bring back to the boil, then take the pan off the heat and keep warm. Cook the tagliatelle in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain but do not over-drain, and then transfer to a warmed bowl. Dress immediately the pasta with the sauce and a sprinkling of

Parmesan. Toss very well and serve at once with the remaining cheese separately.

Colin Spencer’s Rocket and Avocado Sandwich

Colin Spencer’s Vegetable Book – Conran Octopus

“This is my favourite summer sandwich. Rocket and avocado go marvellously

well together, but I confess I like a touch of other flavourings in it as well, as

a kind of background track to the two stars. This amount will make two fairly large and bulky sandwiches, which provide an excellent and satisfying lunch for two people.”

2 tbsp soft goats’ cheese

4 slices of your favourite brown bread, buttered

smear of Marmite, Vegemite or Vecon

about 10 thin cucumber slices

1 ripe avocado, peeled, stoned and sliced

20 or so rocket leaves tiny drop of Tabasco (optional)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Smear the goats’ cheese on the buttered side of 2 slices of the bread and smear the Marmite or whatever on the other 2 slices. Lay the cucumber slices over the cheese, season with pepper, then lay the avocado slices on top of that, followed by the rocket leaves. Season with salt and Tabasco, if using. Then cover with the other pieces of the brown bread. Press the tops gently down and slice the sandwiches in half with great care.


Xanthe Clay’s Pimms Jellies with Orange Cream and Strawberries

It’s Raining Plums – Martin Books

A British summer in a glass, the orange cream balances the alcoholic bite

of the Pimms.

Serves 6

175 ml Pimms

3 sheets gelatine

400 ml lemonade

juice of half a lemon and half a lime

1/2 pint double cream

grated rind of an orange

2 tbsp unrefined golden caster sugar

1/2 lb strawberries and peeled segments of two oranges

mint sprigs and borage flowers

Soak the gelatine in cold water until soft. Heat half the lemonade until

just about boiling, remove from the heat and stir in the gelatine. When the gelatine is dissolved, add the Pimms, lemon and lime juice, and the rest of the lemonade. Pour through a sieve into a bowl and refrigerate until set. Lightly whip the cream and stir in the sugar and orange rind. Slice the strawberries. To serve, dollop some jelly in a glass, and top with strawberries and orange segments. Finish with a blob of the orange cream and a long sprig of mint tucked in the side.

Xanthe Clay’s Rosewater Cake, Strawberries and Cream

It’s Raining Plums – Martin Books


This easy cake with its slightly crunchy glaze is lovely by itself for tea, or like

this, piled with strawberries for pudding.

Serves 8–10

6 oz (170 g) butter

6 oz (170 g) unrefined

golden caster sugar

3 eggs

1/2 lb (225 g) self raising flour

6 tbsp rosewater

1/2 lb (225 g) icing sugar

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 1/4 lb (600g) or so strawberries, sliced in half if large

300 ml double cream, whipped until softly billowing

Pre-heat the oven to 180.C (350.F, Gas 4) Grease and base line an 8 x 10 in ( 20 x 25 cm) cake tin. Cream the butter and sugar until pale, then beat in the eggs one by one. Mix in the flour, then 4 tbsp rosewater. Turn into the tin, spread out and bake for 35–40minutes. Leave in the tin while you mix the icing sugar, remaining rosewater and lemon juice to make a glaze. Prick the still warm cake all over with a fork and pour over the glaze. Remove from the tin when cold and cut into squares or fingers. Serve the cake with strawberries and cream, or for a more dramatic effect, stack the pieces in a pyramid, dollop on a little of the cream and tumble over the strawberries. Scatter with rose petals, either fresh from unsprayed, garden roses, or crystallized, and serve with the rest of the cream.



Wild Food

If you are lucky enough to have a glut of mackerel this recipe is perfect.

Soused Sprats, Herrings or Mackerel with Tomatoes and Mustard Seed

The fish will keep refrigerated for up to one month.

Serves 4

4 fresh mackerel or herrings or 12-16 sprats

150ml (5fl oz) white wine vinegar

150ml (5fl oz) dry white wine

62g (2 1/2oz) thinly sliced onion

225g (8oz) ripe tomatoes, peeled and sliced

2 sprigs of fennel

2 small bay leaves

1 teaspoon white mustard seed

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

lots of freshly ground pepper

Pour the vinegar and white wine into a stainless steel saucepan, add the sliced onion and tomatoes, herbs, mustard seed and seasoning. Bring to the boil and reduce by half. Meanwhile gut and fillet the fish. Roll the fish fillets or lay flat in a casserole or sauté pan. Pour the pickle over the top. Cover and bring to the boil, simmer gently for 4-5 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Serve chilled.


How the British Fell in Love with Food Durrus Fete

Contact Canon Paul Willoughby for details – phone: 027 61011 –


O’Brien Chop House in Lismore

Green Saffron & the Dungarvan Brewing Company are having a “Beer and Curry Feast” on Friday, 27 August, 2010 at 7:30pm. Chop House Chef, Eddie Baguio, and Arun Kapil have created a delicious authentic curry feast using Green Saffron’s Indian spices as well as local produce such as Michael McGrath’s lamb, Dan Aherne’s organic chicken, hand-reared Ballyvolane House saddleback pork, and potatoes and vegetables from Ballyvolane’s walled garden. The Dungarvan Brewing Company’s Head Brewer, Cormac O’Dwyer, will showcase each of his craft beers which will compliment the curries perfectly. To book contact + 353 58 53810 and in association with is on Wednesday 11th August this year and takes place in the gardens of the Durrus Rectory. the Fete has three distinct places to eat – a garden lunch with all produce from the local area, a barbecue with locally sourced meat and afternoon tea. Elizabeth Warner and her team will run a fabulous cake stall showcasing the most vivid taste of West Cork in the form of local baking. All the proceeds from this fete go to supporting local and international charities. is published by Simon & Schuster and can be purchased at

The Art of Jam Making

While there are lots of delicious Irish currants and berries around, let’s have a ‘jam-session’. Even if you’ve never made a pot of jam in your life, I promise if you follow these few basic rules you’ll manage to turn out batch after batch of fresh tasting jam better than virtually anything you can buy. The secret as ever is to use beautiful fresh fruit and make it in small quantities – then every batch will be perfect.

For quite a long time there seems to be a kind of belief that if fruit is not quite good enough for serving fresh, it’s fine for jam. The fact is that mouldy fruit makes mouldy jam!

Before rural electrification the soft fruit season from mid June to September was a pretty hectic time for the dedicated housewife who wanted to have her shelves packed with jams and preserves for the Winter, now everything has changed.

If you don’t want to spend your whole summer in the kitchen, the most practical approach is freeze the fruit in perfect condition in small measured quantities so that you can make jam as you need it through the year. Jam made from frozen fruit will taste infinitely fresher and more delicious than a 6 or 7 month old jam made in peak season.

Guideline Rules for Successful Jam-Making – even if you are a complete novice

For really good jam, the fruit must be freshly picked, dry and unblemished

If the fruit is picked slightly under ripe, it will have more pectin and so the jam will set better.

Jam made from fruit that was wet when picked is more likely to go mouldy within in a short time.

The best jam is made in small quantities – eg. no more than 3lbs of raspberries at a time, perhaps 4lbs of strawberries with ¼ pint of redcurrant juice to help the set. Small quantities cook in a few minutes, so both the colour and the flavour of the jam will be perfect.

Ideally one should use a preserving pan for jam-making. Choose your widest stainless steel pan with a heavy base and sides at least 9 inch deep. It goes without saying that the depth of the contents in the preserving pan and the rate at which they boil, determine how long the jam needs to cook.

Sugar is the preservative in jams, so it is important to use the correct proportion – too little and the jam may ferment, too much may cause crystallization.

Citrus fruit peel, blackcurrants, gooseberries etc. must be thoroughly softened before sugar is added to the jam, otherwise they will toughen and no amount of boiling will soften them, as sugar has a hardening effect on skin and peel.

Stir well to ensure that the sugar is completely dissolved before the jam comes to the boil, (otherwise the jam will crystallize on top). For this reason it is better to add heated sugar, which dissolves more quickly and stir with a wooden spoon until the “gritty feeling” disappears.

Fruit should be simmered until the sugar is added, but from then on, it is best to boil as fast as possible until setting point is reached.

If necessary skim near to the end of cooking. If there is only a little scum, dissolve with a tiny lump of butter stirred in after the jam has reached setting point.

How Do I Know if the Jam is Cooked?

Test for setting frequently so that the jam doesn’t overcook – it will set when the temperature reaches 220°C on a sugar thermometer, a handy but expensive bit of kitchen equipment that you can live without. Alternatively put a teaspoonful of jam on a cold plate, leave in a cool place for a few minutes, if the jam wrinkles when pushed with the tip of your finger it has reached setting point. Skim if necessary and pot immediately.

How Do I Store the Jam?

Wash, rinse and dry the jam jars (remove any traces of old labels or any traces of glue if recycling, sometimes pretty tricky but methalated spirit will usually do the job. Jars should then be put into a preheated oven for 10 minutes at 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3 1/2. Lids may also be sterilised in the oven – 5 minutes is fine. Fill the pots to the top to allow for shrinkage on cooling (use a jam funnel, to avoid drips) cover immediately with sterilised screw top lids if available or jam covers.

Covering Jam Jars.

One can buy packets of jam covers in most shops or supermarkets. These are made up of three elements, a silicone disc of paper, a large round of cellophane and a rubber band.

When the jam has reached setting point, pour into sterilised jars. Cover immediately with silicone discs (slippy side down onto the jam). Wet one side of the cellophane paper, then stretch it over the jar, and secure with a rubber band. If the cellophane disc is not moistened it will not become taut when the jam gets cold.

Later the jars can be covered with doyleys or rounds of material or coloured paper. These covers can be secured with rubber bands plain or coloured, narrow florists ribbons tied into bows or ordinary ribbon with perhaps little dried flowers or herbs.

Really delicious jams are always a welcome present and are also very eagerly sought after by local shops and delicatessens.

Remember if you are selling your jams to cost it properly, taking jars, covers, labels, food cost, heat, etc., into consideration. A formula used by many is food cost x 3. This would cover all the other items mentioned. If you are producing jam for sale you must contact the health authorities and comply with their regulations.

Note on Pectin

Pectin is the substance in fruit which sets jam. It is contained in the cell walls of fruit in varying degrees. It is higher when the fruit is under ripe. Acid e.g. lemon juice helps in the extraction of pectin. Some fruits are higher in pectin than others e.g. plums, damsons, gooseberries, blackcurrants and apples, while others contain little or none, e.g. marrow, blackberries. In these cases, it is necessary to add acid in the form of lemon juice or commercial pectin.

Raspberry, Boysenberry, Tayberry or Loganberry Jam

If you’ve never made jam before, this is a good place to start. Raspberry jam is the easiest and quickest of all jams to make, and one of the most delicious. Loganberries, boysenberries or tayberries may also be used in this recipe, too. Because it uses equal amounts of sugar and fruit, you don’t necessarily need as much as the recipe calls for. Sometimes when I’m trying to take the mystery out of jam-making for students, I put some scones into the oven, then make jam, and by the time the scones are out of the oven, the jam is made. It’s that easy!

Makes 3 x 450g (1lb) pots

900g (2lb) fresh or frozen berries

900g (2lb) white sugar; use 125g (4oz) less if the fruit is very sweet

Preheat the oven to 160ºC/325ºF/gas mark 3.

Wash, dry and sterilise the jars in the oven for 15 minutes. Heat the sugar in a stainless-steel or Pyrex bowl in an oven at 160ºC/325ºF/gas mark 3 for about 15 minutes. When the sugar is hot, put the berries into a wide, stainless-steel saucepan. Mash them a little and cook for 3-4 minutes over a medium heat until the juice begins to run, then add the hot sugar and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is fully dissolved. Increase the heat, bring to the boil and cook steadily for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently (frozen berries will take 6 minutes). Test for a set by putting about a teaspoon of jam on a cold plate and leaving it for a few minutes in a cool place. Press the jam with your index finger. If it wrinkles even slightly, it is set. Remove from the heat immediately. Skim and pour into sterilised jam jars. Cover immediately.Keep the jam in a cool place or put on a shelf in your kitchen so you can feel great every time you look at it! Anyway, it will be so delicious it won’t last long!

Strawberry and Redcurrant Jam

Makes 7 lbs (3.2kg) approx.

4 lbs (1.8kg) strawberries

4 ¼ lbs (1.9kg) sugar

5 fl oz (150ml) redcurrant juice or if unavailable the juice of 2 lemons

First prepare the fruit juice using about 1 lb (450g) fruit to obtain 5fl oz (150ml) of juice. Put the strawberries into a wide stainless steel saucepan, use a potato masher to crush about three quarters of the berries, leave the rest intact in the juice. Bring to the boil and cook the crushed strawberries in the juice for about 2 or 3 minutes. Heat the sugar and add to the fruit, stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the heat and boil for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until it reaches a set, skim. Pot immediately into hot sterilized jars, cover and store in a cool dry cupboard.




Blueberry and Lemon Verbena Jam

If lemon verbena is not available, include the rind of the lemons instead.

Makes 5 x 375g (13oz) jars

1kg (21/2lb) firm blueberries

juice of 2 lemons

a large handful (about 50) lemon verbena leaves, roughly chopped

700g (11/2lb) white granulated sugar, warmed

Pick over the blueberries and discard any that are bruised. Put the blueberries in a wide, low-sided saucepan or preserving pan. Add the lemon juice, chopped lemon verbena leaves and 300ml (1/2 pint) of water. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.

Add the warmed sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Boil until a setting point is reached. Fill the jam into sterilised jars, cover and store in a cool, dry place.



Rhubarb and Ginger Jam

There is just about time to make rhubarb and ginger jam before rhubarb comes to the end of its season.

This delicious jam should be made when rhubarb is in full season and is not yet thick and tough. I feel it’s so worth planting a few stools of rhubarb – it’s easy to grow and loves rich, fertile soil and lots of farmyard manure and will emerge every year for ever and ever if you feed it well.

Makes 8 x 450g (1lb) jars

1.8kg (4lb) rhubarb, trimmed

1.8kg (4lb) granulated sugar

grated zest and juice of 2 organic lemons

50g (2oz) fresh ginger, bruised and tied in muslin

50g (2oz) chopped crystallised ginger or stem ginger preserved in syrup (optional)

Wipe the rhubarb and cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces. Put it into a large, stainless-steel or Pyrex bowl layered with the sugar. Add the lemon zest and juice and leave to stand overnight.

Next day, put the mixture into a preserving pan, add the bruised ginger. Bring to the boil until it is a thick pulp, about 30–45 minutes, and test for a set. Remove the bag of ginger and then pour the jam into hot, sterilised jars. Cover and store in a cool, airy cupboard.

If you like, 50g (2oz) of chopped, crystallised ginger or preserved stem ginger can be added at the end.


Whitecurrant Jelly

Most jellies are dripped overnight but this is a happy exception. It only takes eight minutes to reach setting point and you can use the pulp as well, so you get twice the return on your currants. The leftover pulp can be used as a filling for a tart or as the basis of a whitecurrant sauce. Just add a little more water and perhaps a dash of kirsch or brandy. Then it can be served either with ice cream or lamb.

This recipe also works brilliantly with redcurrants, a wonderfully versatile product and a must-have in the pastry section of any restaurant kitchen as invaluable as a glaze for red fruit tarts. You’ll also find it indispensable in your larder. Both white and redcurrant jelly make a delicious accompaniment to roast lamb, bacon and ham.

Whitecurrant jelly is particularly delicious with cream cheese as a dessert or a fresh goat cheese.

Whtecurrants will be difficult to find unless you have your own bush order 2 or 3 now to plant between now and Autumn.

Makes 6 x 225g (8oz) jars

900g (2lb) whitecurrants

900g (2lb) granulated sugar

Remove the strings from the currants either by hand or with a fork. Put the currants and sugar into a wide, stainless-steel saucepan. Heat and stir continuously until they come to the boil. Then boil for exactly 8 minutes, stirring only if they appear to be sticking to the bottom. Skim carefully. Turn into a nylon sieve and allow to drip through – do not push the pulp through or the jelly will be cloudy. You can stir in gently once or twice just to free the bottom of the sieve of pulp. Pour the jelly into sterilised pots immediately. Cover and store in a cool, dry place. Red currants are very high in pectin so the jelly will begin to set just as soon as it begins to cool.

Blackcurrant Jam

The stalks can be removed from fresh blackcurrants with fingers or a fork. Frozen blackcurrants may also be used, but the jam will take longer to cook. Blackcurrants freeze well, but don’t bother to remove the strings before hand; when they are frozen, just shake the bag – the strings will detach and are easy to pick out.

Makes 11-12 x 370g 13oz) jars

1.8kg (4lb) fresh or frozen blackcurrants

2.25kg (5lb) white granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/gas mark 3.

Remove the stalks from the blackcurrants and put the fruit into a greased preserving pan. Add 1.2 litres (2 pints) of water bring to the boil and cook until the fruit begins to burst – about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the sugar into a stainless-steel bowl and heat for about 10 minutes in the oven. It is vital that the fruit is soft before the sugar is added; otherwise the blackcurrants will taste hard and tough in the finished jam. Add the heated sugar and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Boil briskly for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Skim, test and pot into sterilised jars. Cover and store in a cool, dry place.


A jam funnel

Glebe Gardens and Café in Baltimore 028-20232

West Cork recently opened up a little farm shop that sells homemade jams, salad dressings, freshly baked bread and scones, organic vegetables fresh from the garden… As well as their excellent lunch and dinner they also serve a really good breakfast. They use ingredients from their plentiful garden and fish fresh from the boats in Baltimore, for their small and deliciously fresh menu. is a brilliant little gadget to help you to fill the jam jars without getting yourself and everyone else covered with jam – available from good kitchen shops nationwide as are jam thermometers – the latter is a good investment but not essential.Screw top lids should be sterilized in boiling water before use.

Summer Berries

Strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, tay berries and now lots of black, red and white currants. A few weeks ago we feasted on green gooseberry and elderflower tarts, compotes and fools. The gooseberries that survived will be left on the bushes to ripen. When they are plump and full of sweet juice we’ll enjoy them as dessert gooseberries – no cooking required, just pop a bowlful on the table and enjoy. If you haven’t already got a few gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes in your garden, order them now to plant between now and the autumn. One can buy strawberries and raspberries, even redcurrants ad nauseum year round but unless you have a good Farmer’s Market close to you, gooseberries and blackcurrants are virtually impossible to find in the shops.

A red currant bush or two is also worth considering – they make a divine jelly and their bitter sweet flavour and high pectin content make a delicious and valuable addition to jams and fruit salad. They too are loaded with vitamin C. All the currants freeze brilliantly, don’t bother to string them, just weigh them into manageable kilogram lots and freeze. The strings will fall off when you shake the bag of frozen berries just before you use them – I discovered that trick years ago when I was too busy to string the fruit before freezing, so I decided to throw them in and worry about the strings later.

If you are stringing the fresh currants a fork is useful and children find it brilliant fun and may even nibble some of the vitamin rich fruit.

Fresh blackcurrants make a delicious cordial that can be diluted like the well known brand and of course stored for the winter. They also make irresistibly funky blackcurrant ice pops which you’ll find the ‘grown ups’ will want to steal from the children.

Strings of black, red or white currants are also easy to frost and look delicious on a cake or dessert. The sugary coating makes them irresistible to nibble – if you can hide them they’ll keep for several days in a dry place.

Next week I’ll devote my entire article to jam-making in response to readers request but this week a few delicious puddings to make the most of the Summer berries and currants.


Gooseberry Nectar

I love to make cordials and homemade ‘lemonades’ from Summer fruits.

Makes 20 glasses (approximately) or 2 pints 5oz (45fl oz)

900g (2lbs) gooseberries

450g (1lb) sugar

600ml (1 pint) water

2 – 3 elderflower blossoms

ice cubes

Put the elderflowers into a piece of muslin and tie into a bag. Simmer the fruit until well burst and very soft. Remove the elderflower bag and squeeze into the compote to extract every last drop. Pour the stewed gooseberries into a nylon sieve, press as much as possible through with the back of a ladle or a tablespoon. Allow to cool then chill well.

Serve in chilled glasses with lots of ice, add prosecco to taste or sparkling water for a little fizz in your life.


Gooseberry, Elderflower and Strawberry Compote

Serves 8

The combination of gooseberries and strawberries is surprisingly delicious. Their seasons just overlap nicely.

the remaining gooseberry pulp may be served with yoghurt for breakfast, delicious. 



900g (2lb) green gooseberries, topped and tailed

2 or 3 elderflower heads

600ml (1 pint) cold water

450g (1lb) sugar

450g (1lb) ripe Irish strawberries

 Make the compote as in the Gooseberry Nectar recipe, cook until they just burst. Remove the bag of elderflowers. Pour the gooseberry compote into a bowl. Allow to cool completely. Add the sliced strawberries, stir gently and serve with softly whipped cream.


A fan oven works really well for meringues but don’t forget to reduce the temperature by 10-20% depending on your brand of oven.

Serves 10




4 organic egg whites

9 ozs (250g) approx. icing sugar, sieved

600ml (1 pint) chilled whipped cream

2 – 3 teaspoons rose blossom water

450g (1lb) fresh, fresh raspberries

To Decorate

organic rose petals

fresh mint leaves or sweet cicely leaves

Silicone paper

First make the meringue. Cover two baking sheets with silicone paper. Otherwise grease and flour the sheet very carefully. Draw two 25.5 cm (10 inch) circles on the silicone paper with a pencil.

Put the egg whites and all the sieved icing sugar into a spotlessly clean bowl and whisk until the mixture forms stiff peaks. This can take 8-10 minutes in an electric mixer. Alternatively you can whisk it by hand but it takes quite a long time, so if you even have a hand-held mixer it will speed up matters a lot. Divide the meringue mixture between the two circles on the silicone paper and spread with a palette knife into two even discs.

Bake in a low oven 150°C/300ºF/regulo 2 for 45 minutes or until the meringue discs will lift easily off the paper. Turn off the oven and allow them to cool in the oven if possible.

To Serve:


Strawberries with Fresh Mint Leaves

One of our favourite ways to eat strawberries and good way to perk up less than perfect berries.

Serves 8-10

900g (2lb) ripe strawberries

2-3 tablespoons castor sugar

freshly squeezed lemon juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon

2-3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, torn or shredded

Just before serving hull the strawberries and cut into quarters or slice lengthwise. Sprinkle with caster sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Scatter with torn mint leaves. Toss gently, taste, adjust with a little more sugar or freshly squeezed lemon juice if necessary. Serve alone or with softly whipped cream.



Left over blackcurrant fool may be frozen – it makes a delicious ice cream. Serve with blackcurrant coulis made by thinning the blackcurrant puree with a little more water or syrup.

Wild Food

Marsh Samphire or Glasswort (Salicornia Europaea)

For just about a month one can gather marsh samphire, they look like little succulent cacti without the prickles. Catch them in your fingers and eat them one by one scraping them against your teeth to detach the flesh from the inner spine. If you can’t gather it yourself, look out for it at local farmers markets such as Kinsale, Mahon Point and Midleton. Or contact Michelle Breen on (086)3458710.

Serves 8 as an accompaniment

225g (8oz) samphire

freshly ground pepper

25–50g (1–2oz) butter

Cover the samphire with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 5–6 minutes or until tender. Drain off the water, season with freshly ground pepper and toss in butter – no salt because samphire has a natural salty tang.

Serve with fish or just have a little feast on toast with Hollandaise sauce.


Thrifty Tip

Freeze summer fruits in small individual portions for a taste of Summer in the Winter, delicious with yogurt for breakfast.


Ladurée Macaroons

were only available in Paris up to relatively recently; these psychedelic macaroons are now taking Dublin by storm and are available in Brown Thomas, Grafton Street (why not in Cork?) They sell for €1.60 each and are fast becoming the new cupcakes, the ‘must bring’ pressie for the hostess with the mostest. Like all ‘new’ ideas, it doesn’t take long before someone enterprising starts to experiment. The most delicious Irish macaroons I’ve tasted are made by Iseult Janssens from the Cake Stand in Newcastle, Co Dublin – 0860407676

– 086 8141133.



Meringue with Raspberries and Rosewater Cream

Blackcurrant Fool



Serves 10 approx.

340g (¾ lb) fresh or frozen blackcurrants

425ml (15fl oz) Stock syrup (see recipe)

Whipped cream

Cover the blackcurrants with stock syrup. Bring to the boil and cook until the fruit bursts about 4-5 minutes. Liquidise and sieve or puree the fruit and syrup and measure. When the puree has cooled, add up to equal quantity of softly whipped cream, according to taste.

The fool should not be very stiff, more like the texture of softly whipped cream. If it is too stiff stir in a little milk rather than more cream.

Alternative presentation chose tall sundae glasses. Put 50ml (2floz) of blackcurrant puree into the base of the glass, top with a layer of softly whipped cream, another layer of blackcurrant puree and finally a little more cream. Drizzle a little thin puree over the top, serve chilled with shortbread biscuits.

Blackcurrant Ice Cream with Blackcurrant Coulis

Add rose blossom water to the cream to taste. Put a disc of meringue onto a serving plate. Spread with a layer of the softly whipped rosewater cream. Save some to decorate the top. Sprinkle with a generous layer of fresh raspberries (keep a few for decoration). Top with the second meringue disc. Whip the remainder of the cream stiffly and use to decorate the top with raspberries and fresh mint or sweet cicely leaves. Scatter some fresh rose petals over the top.

Blackcurrant Coulis

225 g (8ozs) blackcurrants

225ml (8fl oz) stock syrup

120 – 150ml (4 – 5fl oz) water (see below)

Pour the syrup over the blackcurrants and bring to the boil, cook for 3-5 minutes until the blackcurrants burst. Liquidise and sieve through a nylon sieve. Allow to cool. Add 4-5 fl oz (120-150 ml) water. Store in a fridge.

Blackcurrant coulis keeps for weeks and freezes very well.


Stock Syrup

175g (6 oz) sugar

125g (4 ½ oz) water

Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes then allow it to cool. Store in the fridge until needed.

Blackcurrant Ice Pops

Makes 12 ice pops

Fill the blackcurrant coulis mixture into ice pop moulds freeze and enjoy.

Red Currant Jelly




Red currant jelly is a very delicious and versatile product to have in your larder. It has a myriad of uses. It can be used like a jam on bread or scones, or served as an accompaniment to roast lamb, bacon or ham. It is also good with some rough pâtés and game, and is invaluable as a glaze for red fruit tarts.

This recipe is a particular favourite of mine, not only because it’s fast to make and results in delicious intensely flavoured jelly, but because one can use the left over pulp to make a fruit tart, so one gets double value from the red currants. Unlike most other fruit jelly, no water is needed in this recipe.

We’ve used frozen fruits for this recipe also, stir over the heat until the sugar dissolves, proceeds as below.

Makes 3 x 1 lb (450g) jars

2 lbs (900g) red currants

2 lbs (900g) granulated sugar

Remove the strings from the red currants either by hand or with a fork. Put the red currants and sugar into a wide stainless steel saucepan and stir continuously until they come to the boil. Boil for exactly 8 minutes, stirring only if they appear to be sticking to the bottom. Skim carefully.

Turn into a nylon sieve and allow to drip through, do not push the pulp through or the jelly will be cloudy. You can stir in gently once or twice just to free the bottom of the sieve of pulp.

Pour the jelly into sterilised pots immediately. Red currants are very high in pectin so the jelly will begin to set just as soon as it begins to cool.

Rustic Peach Tart with Summer Berries

Serves 6-8


8 ozs (225 g) plain white flour

1 tablespoon castor sugar

4 ozs (110 g), cut into 1/2 inch (1cm) dice

cold water or cream to mix


3-4 ozs (75-110g) sugar

1 tablespoon corn flour

4 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick

4 ozs (110g) blueberries

4 ozs (110g) raspberries

Castor sugar for sprinkling, about 1 tablespoon

1 x 9 inch (23cm) pie plate or tart tin.

First make the pastry, put the flour and sugar into a bowl, rub in the cold butter. When the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, add just enough water or cream to bind. Knead lightly to get the mixture to come together. Cover with wax or silicone paper and rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

Roll the pastry on a lightly floured surface into a 14 inch (35cm) round approximately. Transfer to a 9 inch (23cm) greased plate or baking sheet.

Just before filling the tart.

Mix the sugar with the corn flour. Toss in the sliced peaches and blueberries. Stir gently. Add the raspberries, but don’t stir. Pour the fruit and the juices into the chilled tart shell and distribute evenly. Fold the overhanging edge to cover the outer portion of the filling, leaving a 5 inch (12.5cm) opening of exposed fruit in the centre of the tart. Brush the pastry with cream, sprinkle with a little sugar.

Bake the tart in a preheated oven 220°C/427°F/Gas Mark 7 for 8-10 minutes, lower the temperature to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and bake for 30 to35 minutes longer. Serve warm or at room temperature with softly whipped cream.

Frosted Red, White or Blackcurrants

So pretty to nibble on, use to decorate cakes and desserts.

Take about 12 perfect bunches of red/white or blackcurrants attached to the stem. Whisk one egg white in a bowl until broken up and slightly fluffy. Spread 115g/4ozs castor sugar onto a flat plate. Dip a bunch of redcurrants in the egg white, ensure that every berry has been lightly coated, and drain very well.

Lay on the castor sugar and sprinkle castor sugar over the top. Check that the entire surface of every berry is covered.

Arrange carefully on a tray covered with silicone paper and put into a dry airy place. until crisp and frosted.


Rock or Marsh Samphire with Melted Butter

 Serve alone on toast or with fish dishes.

The Art of Preserving

All over the country people are rediscovering the joy of growing their own vegetables, a little soft fruit, an apple tree or even a few fresh herbs. It’s not just about the economics; there is the sheer thrill of digging your own potatoes, carrots or beets and it is certainly is a thrill having waited patiently for 4 to 5 months for them to grow.

In spring, it’s difficult not to get swayed by the shiny seed packets and few of us can resist planting more than we need or can share with our neighbours and friends.

So those of us who succumb will know the effort that goes into the growing, weeding, harvesting and then dealing with the inevitable gluts. But let’s look on a glut as a bonus, an opportunity to relearn the almost forgotten skill of preserving. In earlier times when there were no freezers it was an essential survival skill. Now we can utilise all the labour saving mod cons like food processors, blenders and slicers to help us prepare the food.

When I was little in the days before electrification, a glut in the garden provoked a frenzy of activity; Mummy was determined to save every scrap of the precious crop. There was a great sense of urgency as it was the only opportunity people had to lay down a store for the winter months. Preserving was acutely important in the rhythm of the year. During my childhood waste was not an option – food was too precious and scarce to be thrown away. Since the advent of electricity, most households have freezers and surplus food can easily be frozen, so the reasons for preserving have changed. Recently I’ve seen a huge revival of interest and creativity as people experiment, combining old and new techniques and flavours. Chefs who just a few years ago wouldn’t have been ‘seen dead’ jam making and who regarded preserving merely as the domain of grannies are now proudly offering their own chutneys and pickles at their restaurants as an integral part of their food style.

I love the smell of jams and chutneys bubbling on the Aga. You can’t help feeling a glow of satisfaction every time you look into a well-stocked pantry and see your bottles and jam jars lined up on the shelf like ‘good deeds’. It also means you have a ready supply of terrific gifts to take along to a dinner party – much more welcome than a dodgy bottle of wine.

One of the best ways to preserve a glut of French or runner beans is to blanch them quickly in boiling well salted water then drain and refresh under ice cold water, drain again very well, tray freeze and then freeze in boxes or bags.

When defrosted they can be served in a variety of ways – reheated in boiling water for a minute or two and simply tossed in extra virgin olive oil and some freshly chopped herbs or better still use for Gujarati style French beans a recipe lovely Madhur Jaffrey taught us years ago when she came to the cookery school to teach a guest chef course.


Gujerati Style Green Beans

If you are using frozen beans, just re-heat in boiling salted water, drain and proceed as in recipe below.

Serves 4

1 lb (450g) fresh green French beans

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon whole black mustard seeds

4 cloves garlic, peeled and very finely chopped

1/2 – 1 hot, dried red chilli, coarsely crushed in a mortar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

freshly ground black pepper

Trim the beans and cut them into 1 inch (2.5cm) lengths. Blanch the beans by dropping them into a pot of well-salted boiling water, boil rapidly for 3-4 minutes or until they are just tender. Drain immediately in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium flame. When hot, put in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop, put in the garlic. Stir the garlic pieces around until they turn light brown, (be careful not to burn or it will spoil the flavour). Put in the crushed red chilli and stir for a few seconds, add the green beans, salt and sugar. Stir to mix. Turn the heat to medium-low. Stir and cook the beans for 3-4 minutes or until they have absorbed the flavour of the spices. Season with freshly ground black pepper, mix well and serve.

Lettuce, Broad Bean and Spring Onion Soup with Chorizo and Mint

A delicious way to cope with a glut of several vegetables. Soups can of-course made in quantity and frozen for Autumn and Winter. Omit the chorizo and mint until serving.

Serves 8

55g (2oz) butter

140g (5oz) spring onion finely sliced – use green and white parts

170g (6oz) potato, peeled and diced

170g (6oz) lettuce: Butterhead, Cos, Little Gem, Oakleaf… finely shredded

250g (9oz) shelled broad beans

20 floz (2 pints/ 1200mls) light chicken or vegetable stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

125g (4 ½ oz) chorizo skinned and cut into ¼ inch dice approximately

fresh mint leaves

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan and when it foams add the spring onion, stir and cook over a gentle heat for 3 or 4 minutes until nice and soft. Meanwhile bring the stock to the boil, add to the saucepan with the broadbeans, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring back to the boil for 2 minutes, add the shredded lettuces, stir well, continue to boil rapidly for another 3 or 4 minutes, just enough for the lettuce to wilt (Cos and Little Gem will take longer than the Butterhead) add about 15 mint leaves to the soup, puree the soup in batches adding a little more stock or creamy milk if necessary. Taste and correct seasoning. Blanch the remaining broad beans in boiling salted water, drain, refresh under cold water. When they are cool enough to handle, pop them out of their skins and keep aside for a garnish.

To Serve

Heat a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over a medium heat in a pan, add the chorizo and cook for a couple of minutes until the oil runs and the chorizo begins to crisp. If necessary re-heat the soup (do not cover or it will spoil the colour)

Serve the hot soup plates scatter a few warm broad beans, some chorizo and a few mint leaves over the top of each bowl.

Claudia Roden’s Marinated Courgettes – from The Book of Jewish Food


When you grow courgettes it’s either feast or famine so here’s a recipe to use some up. Claudia cooked these for us and stressed that they should be brown. I like the sweet/ sour, ‘agrodolce’ version best


Serves 6

750g (1 ½lbs) courgette (zucchini)

olive oil

2 or 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

a few sprigs of fresh basil or mint, finely chopped

4 tablespoons wine vinegar or 2 tablespoons wine vinegar and I tablespoon sugar

salt and pepper

Trim the ends of the courgettes and cut in thin slices diagonally. Fry quickly in batches in hot olive oil, turning them over once, until browned all over. Lift out and drain on paper towels

Fry the garlic or leave it raw. Lay the courgette slices in layers, sprinkling each layer with the drained garlic, the basil or mint, the vinegar, salt, and pepper (sugar if using) Leave to marinate a few hours before serving cold. It keeps very well for a week or more.




We also have a glut of basil at present so we’re making lots of pesto and basil oil. Homemade Pesto takes minutes to make and tastes a million times better than most of what you buy.


Serve with pasta, goat cheese, tomato and mozzarella.


4ozs (115g) fresh basil leaves

6 – 8 fl ozs (175 – 250ml) extra virgin olive oil

1 oz (25g) fresh pine kernels (taste when you buy to make sure they are not rancid)

2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

2 ozs (50g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiana Reggiano is best)

salt to taste


Whizz the basil with the olive oil, pine kernels and garlic in a food processor or pound in a pestle and mortar. Remove to a bowl and fold in the finely grated Parmesan cheese. Taste and season.


Pesto keeps for weeks, covered with a layer of olive oil in a jar in the fridge. It also freezes well but for best results don’t add the grated Parmesan until it has defrosted. Freeze in small jars for convenience.

Basil Oil

Basil may be used either to flavour the oil or the oil may be used to preserve the basil, depending on the quantity used. If using a large quantity of basil, you can preserve it in a jar with enough olive oil to completely cover it for up to three months. Basil oil may be used in salad dressings, vegetable stews, pasta sauces or many other instances

extra virgin olive oil

fresh organic basil leaves

Ensure the basil leaves are clean and dry. Pour a little of the olive oil from the bottle and stuff at least 8–10 basil leaves into the bottle, or more if you like. The basil must be covered by at least 1cm (1⁄2in) of oil. Seal and store in a cold place. We sometimes fill bottles three quarters full and then chill them. When the oil solidifies somewhat, we top it up with another layer of oil. If the basil is not submerged in the oil, it will become mouldy in a relatively short period of time.

Beetroot Chutney

Delicious with cold meats and cheese.

Makes 6 x 200ml (7fl oz) jars

900g (2 lbs) raw beetroot, peeled

450g (1 lb) onion, diced

450g (1 lb) cooking apples, peeled and diced

25g (1oz) grated ginger

1 teaspoon salt

600ml (1 pint) cider vinegar

350g (12oz) granulated sugar

Chop the beetroot finely. Put into a stainless steel saucepan with the diced onion and apples. Add the grated ginger, salt and vinegar.

Cover and simmer until the beetroot is soft and the apples have cooked to a fluff, approximately 1 – 1 1/2 hours.

Add the sugar and cook until thick, 15 to 20 minutes.

Pot into sterilized jars and cover with non reactive lids. Store in a dark airy place.


Strawberry Jam


Makes 7lbs (3.2kg) approx


Homemade strawberry jam can be sensational but only if the fruit is a good variety. It’s one of the most difficult jams to make because strawberries are low in pectin, so don’t attempt it if your fruit is not perfect. Redcurrants are well worth searching out for this jam. They are very high in pectin and their bitter-sweet taste greatly enhances the flavour.


4 lbs (1.8kg) unblemished strawberries (El Santa or Rapella if available)

3-4 lbs (1.6-1.8 kg) granulated sugar (not castor or jam sugar)

5 fl ozs (150ml) redcurrant juice (see below) or if unavailable the juice of 2 lemons


First prepare the fruit juice (see below) using about 1 lb (450g) fruit to obtain 5 fl ozs (150ml/1/2 cup) of juice. Put the strawberries into a wide stainless steel saucepan with redcurrant juice. Use a potato masher to crush the berries, leave the rest intact. Bring to the boil and cook the crushed strawberries in the juice for about 2 or 3 minutes. Warm the sugar in a low oven and add to the fruit, stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat and boil for about 10-15 minutes stirring frequently. *Skin, test and pot into sterilized jars, cover and store in a cool dry cupboard.


* This jam sticks and burns very easily so be careful.


Redcurrant Juice


Put 1 lb (450g) redcurrants (they can be fresh or frozen) into a stainless steel saucepan with 6 fl ozs (175ml) of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve. This juice can be frozen for use another time if necessary.


Mummy’s Strawberry Jam

Put the strawberries and lemon juice in a stainless steel saucepan. Cover with sugar. Leave overnight.

Bring the strawberries to the boil; stir until the sugar is dissolved. Continue to boil until it reaches a set. Pour into sterilized jars, cover immediately and store in a cool dry dark cupboard.

Pickled Peaches

Sometimes in summer you’ll find a tray of inexpensive peaches at the market. When you’ve eaten your fill, try making some pickled peaches, which go well with glazed ham, bacon, duck or goose.

Makes 6 x 370g (13oz) jars

10 peaches or nectarines, sliced into segments (peaches need to be peeled)600ml (1 pint) cold stock syrup1 small stick cinnamon1 chilli, halved and seeded2.5cm (1inch) piece of ginger, sliced

6 cloves

2 slices of lemon

Cook all the above ingredients together in a saucepan for 10 minutes.

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

Put all the ingredients into an oven-proof saucepan. Bring to the boil, cover and put in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the chilli, cinnamon and lemon slices. Cool, store in the fridge or fill into sterilised Kilner jars. Seal and store in a cool place.

It will keep for a year but is best used within 2 or 3 months.



The motorway from Cork to Dublin is so seductive that it takes serious will power to make a detour. Recently we revisited Chez Hans in Cashel – I had not been there for far too long. We enjoyed Dover sole and a juicy well aged T Bone steak. The meat comes from Phelan’s butchers in Clonmel. It is terrific to see the second generation following in her father’s footsteps and lovely friendly professional staff. Well worth the detour but you’ll need to book ahead particularly at the weekend.

Moor Lane, Cashel Co. Tipperary. Tel: 062 61177


It was a beautiful balmy Summer evening at Lyons Village for the launch of Clodagh McKenna’s new cookery school, café and kitchen shop recently. Clodagh did the 12 Week Certificate Course at Ballymaloe in January 2000 and started her career in Midleton Farmers Market. Don’t miss her new Farmers Market at the Village of Lyons every Friday 9am to 2pm. The cookery school is in a sublime setting with the beginning of a vegetable garden and orchard close by. Clodagh has a great list of Summer courses with catchy titles like ‘Domestic Honey’ and ‘Baking Angels’ for full course schedule


Cork Butter Museum have exciting news

The National Dairy Council has agreed to sponsor free admission to the Butter Museum every Friday for the months of July, August and September, on ‘Free Friday’ people will have the opportunity to visit this unique museum of Ireland’s signature food. Cork was the biggest butter market in the world in the1700s. The museum has been described by the New York Times as “engaging and multi- faceted”.

O’Connell Square, Shandon, Cork City – 021 430 0600 – www.corkbuttermuseum/



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