Food Blogs

Marina O'Loughlin's food feed: ant-infused gin and sad sarnies

Guardian Food Blog - Fri, 07/10/2015 - 12:27

Rihanna’s portion control, banana bread for a dentist to get his teeth into, and a fat face-mask. It’s all in this week’s culinary feast

Got a great food pic? Feed @MarinaO’Loughlin on Twitter or Marinapoloughlin on Instagram using #FoodFeed

In a week when Rihanna’s Bitch Better Have My Money generated a fever of column inches, RiRi herself was less concerned with accusations of racism and misogyny and more concerned about breakfast. Instructing @chefdebbiesolomon to look out for “portion control”, the chef basically trolled her boss. But, as Solomon says, #atleastyougottwopancakes. I’m more disappointed in RiRi for that portion control: always took her for a fellow sausage roll lover. No, not a double entendre. This modern culture stuff is tricky.

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How to eat: tuna salad

Guardian Food Blog - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 10:54

Sounds simple enough, but every detail is controversial. Tinned tuna or fresh? Rocket or cos? French beans or no? Which olives, what dressing and what to drink with it?

Hair splitters! Finicky folk! The unbearably anally retentive! Please assemble in the e-meeting room that is For How To Eat – the blog series charged with identifying the ideal version of Britain’s favourite dishes – is back and, this month, we’re tackling that controversial classic, tuna salad. It is the star of a million at-desk lunches (so long as no one nicks yours from the fridge, that is), and the perfect quick fall-back meal on a hot summer’s evening, but it comes in 1,001 varieties and all but one of them is completely and utterly wrong. So, without further ado, lettuce commence. As ever, keep it cool BTL: no flakiness, no raw language, no overly salty exchanges.

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School Tour – June 2015

Darinas Saturday Letter - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 14:00

Just back from another action packed school tour. On every 12 Week Certificate course we take the students on a fact finding field trip to stimulate ideas on how they might use their hard earned cooking skills to earn their living in a fun and creative way. Food is the main driver of the Irish economy at present where there are a myriad of options to add value to basic raw materials.

We started shortly after 8am, everyone was in high spirits. What is it about a school excursion that makes us all revert back to our carefree childhood temperament? First we visited Shanagarry Smokehouse where Bill Casey told us about how he decided to start a smokehouse when he was made redundant in the early 80’s. His smoked salmon is sold not just in the local area but also to several top chefs around the country and occasionally overseas.

Next we visited Philip Dennhardt’s Saturday Pizza factory ingeniously converted from a disused shipping container. An inspirational project which made many students realise that thinking creatively one can get into business and comply with the regulations without huge overheads.

Then we all piled into the bus and headed for Mahon Point Farmers Markets. It was already buzzing when we arrived at 10 o’ clock, 50 plus stalls each manned by a super creative food producer, all entrepreneurs who think outside the box to identify an opportunity. Annie Murphy’s chickens were roasting to perfection on a spit, beside her Simon Mould was turning out irresistible pizza. As ever the O’ Driscoll brothers from West Cork had a long queue for their freshly caught West Cork fish.  Maurice Gilbert from Ballyhoura was doling out tastes of his apple juice combos. Close by Marcus Hodder tells me his new salted caramel affrogato ice cream is proving to be a big hit.

Silvia and Olga from La Cocina have an irresistible display of Spanish treats, the students in particular love the custard tarts and want to know if I know the secret. Chocolate Cake Pops, lollipops, goat’s milk, raw food, home baking, cured meats, free range pork, organic fruit and vegetables…….

Now, since my last visit Rachel McCormack is making a variety of beef and chicken broths, Pho and pad thai that’s really causing a stir. This market continues to surprise and delight and the originals like Arbutus breads are still innovative and tempt us with their new creations.

Then it was on to Fermoy Cheese where Frank and Gudrun Shinnick and their team of international apprentices make a whole range of delectable farmhouse cheeses from the milk of their Friesian herd.

After a picnic and cheese tasting, we headed to visit Willie Drohan, who produces Comeragh Mountain lamb on his farm not far from the spectacular Mahon Falls. He told us the story of how he and several neighbouring farmers rear this distinctive lamb now much sought after by the top chefs. They lamb graze on deer grass, wild sorrel, tormentil and on other wild herbs on the commonage.

Next destination was Nude Food in Dungarvan. Here we were met by Louise Clark and Lucy Whelan. Louise lead us through the restaurant into her garden behind where broad beans, courgettes and a myriad of fresh herbs were flourishing. Louise is a charismatic speaker who shared her story with us all.

Our last stop of a brilliantly stimulating and enjoyable day was Dungarvan Brewery. Claire Dalton and Cormac O Dwyer showed us around explained and simplified the brewing process, the ingredients needed and the bottling system. His sister, wife of  Tom Dalton the other brewer in the business organised a tasting of the Dungarvan beers, all with local names, Helvick Gold Blond ale, Copper Coast, Mine Head, and I particularly enjoyed the Black Rock stout.

Traditional bottled conditioned beers are the USP of the Dungarvan brewing company which gives the craft beer a unique flavour.


Hot Tips

Sushi made Simple

Join our 12 Week Certificate students and allow Shermin Mustafa to demystify this jewel of Japanese cuisine. Whilst so many of us love eating sushi, making it for the first time can be intimidating particularly as it’s common-knowledge that sushi chefs train for years to master the knife skills and presentation needed to create world-class sushi.

This course takes the mystery… and stress… out of making sushi, Shermin will start by explaining the ingredients, basic equipment and techniques required, giving you the confidence to serve it to guests at home or in a restaurant.

During this half-day course she will show you how to make at least eight different types of sushi as well as sashimi.

Students will have the opportunity to taste all the dishes prepared during the demonstration.

Wednesday July 15th at the Ballymaloe Cookery School 9.30am-2pm

Phone 021 4646785 or for more information.


The cake making craze continues unabated. If you are really into spectacular results Decobake has 5 shops around Ireland. They also have a wonderful website with a good delivery service.  All you need for cake baking and decorating from edible gels and paste, dust and glitter, sugar craft, novelty cake tins and much much more….

Check out the website


Shanagarry OOOBY little summer market has started again. Every Sunday morning the group sell their seasonal produce, preserves and home baking on the wall outside Shanagarry Church. A brilliant idea that could be replicated throughout the country. Tel Mary Griffin on 0876175985 or email for the details.


East Cork Slow Food Event

Camilla Plum from her organic Danish Fuglebjerggaard Farm will give a short cookery demonstration at the Ballymaloe Cookery School  on ‘Danish Family Cooking’, on Wednesday July 8th at 7pm.

Telephone 021 4646785 for the details.





Fish in Beer Batter with Chips and Tartare Sauce

Dungarvan Brewery can be contacted on  058 24000


Serves 8


Fish and chips became famous because they can be utterly delicious.  The fish needs to be spanking fresh, the batter crisp, the potatoes a good variety and most importantly the oil needs to be good quality.  In Spain and Greece olive oil is frequently used, but sunflower or arachide can be excellent also.

8 very fresh fillets of Irish cod, haddock, plaice, or lemon sole


Beer Batter

250g (9oz) self-raising flour

good pinch of salt

110ml (4fl oz) beer

175-225ml (6 – 8fl ozs) cold water


Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl.  Make a well in the centre and gradually whisk in the beer and water.



8-16 well-scrubbed unpeeled potatoes



1 lemon



Tartare Sauce (see recipe)


First make the batter.

Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl.  Make a well in the centre and gradually whisk in the beer and water.


Cut the potatoes into chips (5mm/1/4 inch approximately – frites size), basically any size you fancy (remember the bigger they are the longer they take to cook.  Jumbo’s need to be blanched at 160°C/320°F first and finished at 190°C/375°F).


Heat the oil in the deep-fryer to 180°C/350°F, add in the chips. Make sure they are absolutely dry (don’t cook too many together).  Cook for a few minutes until they are just soft, drain.


Dip the fish fillets in batter, allow excess to drip off, lower gently into the oil, shaking the basket at the same time.  Cook until crisp and golden, drain on kitchen paper.  Increase the heat to 190°C/375°F. Put the chips back in and cook for a minute or two until really crisp.  Drain on kitchen paper, sprinkle with salt.


Serve the fish and chips immediately, either on a plate or in a cornet of newsprint.  Serve with Tartare Sauce.



Tartare Sauce


A classic Tartare Sauce, great with deep-fried fish, shellfish or fish cakes.


Serves 8-10


2 hardboiled egg yolks

2 raw egg yolks, preferably free range

1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

300ml (10fl oz) of sunflower or arachide oil plus 50ml (2fl oz) olive oil

1 teaspoon chopped capers

1 teaspoon chopped gherkins

2 teaspoons chopped chives or 2 teaspoons chopped spring onions (scallions)

2 teaspoons chopped parsley

chopped white of the 2 hardboiled eggs

salt and freshly ground pepper


Sieve the hardboiled egg yolks into a bowl, add the raw egg yolks, mustard and 1 tablespoon of wine vinegar.   Mix well and whisk in the oil drop by drop, increasing the volume as the mixture thickens.  When all the oil has been absorbed, add the other ingredients – capers, gherkins, chives or spring onions and parsley.   Then roughly chop the hardboiled egg white and fold in gently, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and add a little more vinegar or a squeeze of lemon juice if necessary.





Shanagarry Smoked Wild Irish Salmon with Arjard and Pickled Red Onions


Wild Irish salmon is a now a rare treat, as for the last couple of years we have managed to get a small number from fishermen on the Blackwater river. We treasure each one and eat some fresh, cure and smoke some ourselves or give them to Bill Casey, our local smoker, to smoke for us. We hot- and cold-smoke the salmon and teach the students both methods of preserving. For this recipe we use cold-smoked salmon, but flakes of the hot-smoked variety would also be delicious.


Serves 4


175–225g (6–8oz) cold-smoked wild Irish salmon,

cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) cubes


For the Pickled Red Onions

225ml (8fl oz) white wine vinegar

110g (4oz) granulated sugar

pinch of salt

3 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick, broken

1 dried red chilli

450g (1lb) red onions, peeled and thinly sliced on a mandolin


For the Arjard (cucumber salad)

2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced lengthways

1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced into rings

1 green chilli, deseeded and sliced into rings

4 tablespoons sugar

6 tablespoons water

6 tablespoons malt vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cucumber, quartered lengthways and thinly sliced


To Serve

chervil sprigs and wild garlic or chive blossom in season

freshly ground black pepper


To make the pickled onions, put the vinegar, sugar, salt and spices in a heavy-bottomed pan and bring to the boil. Put in one-third of the sliced onions and simmer for 2–3 minutes or until they turn pink and wilt. Lift out the cooked onions with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a 350g (12oz) sterilised jam jar with a non-reactive lid. Repeat with the rest of the onions, cooking them in two batches. Top up the jar with the hot vinegar, put on the lid and set aside to cool overnight. Once cold, store in the fridge.


To make the Arjard, put all the ingredients except the cucumber in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3–5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cold, pour the marinade over the slices of cucumber and set aside to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.


To serve, arrange the cubes of salmon on a plate, add some Arjard and some pickled red onion and scatter over a few sprigs of chervil, wild garlic or chive flowers. Finish with some freshly ground black pepper over the top.




Comeragh Mountain Lamb with Cucumber Neopolitana


Martin Drohan can be contacted at tel (051) 291 533


1 leg of Comeragh mountain lamb



600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) homemade lamb or chicken stock

1-2 teaspoons freshly-chopped herbs  parsley, mint, thyme or rosemary, chives…..

a little Roux

Sea Salt



Sprigs of fresh mint and parsley



If possible remove the aitch bone from the top of the leg of lamb so that it will be easier to carve later, then trim the end of the leg.  Score the fat lightly.  Sprinkle with sea salt.


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and roast for 1 1/4 hours approx. for rare, 1 1/2 hours for medium and 1 3/4 hours well done.  When the lamb is cooked to your taste, remove the joint to a carving dish.  Rest the lamb for 10 minutes before carving.


De-grease the juices in the roasting tin, add stock, bring to the boil and thicken with a little roux if desired.  Just before serving, whisk in some knobs of butter to enrich the gravy and add some freshly-chopped herbs.  Serve with Cucumber Neapolitana (see recipe).




Cucumber Neapolitana


A terrifically versatile vegetable dish which may be made ahead and reheats well. It is also delicious served with rice or pasta.  It makes a great stuffing for tomatoes and is particularly good with Roast lamb.


Serves 6 approximately


1 organic large cucumber

15g (1/2oz) butter

1 medium onion – 110g (4oz) approximately, sliced

4 very ripe Irish tomatoes

salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar

65ml (2 1/2fl oz) cream

1 dessertspoon freshly chopped mint



Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan, when it foams add the onion. Cover and sweat for 5 minutes approximately until soft but not coloured.


Meanwhile, peel the cucumber, cut into 1cm (1/2inch) cubes, add to the onions, toss well and continue to cook while you scald the tomatoes with water for 10 seconds.  Peel the tomatoes and slice into the casserole, season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of sugar. Cover the casserole and cook for a few minutes until the cucumbers are tender and the tomatoes have softened, add the cream and bring back to the boil. Add the freshly chopped mint.  If the liquid is very thin, thicken it by carefully whisking in a little roux.  Cucumber Neapolitana keeps for several days and may be reheated.







110g (4oz) butter

110g (4oz) flour


Melt the butter and cook the flour in it for 2 minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally.  Use as required.  Roux can be stored in a cool place and used as required or it can be made up on the spot if preferred.  It will keep at least a fortnight in a refrigerator.





Ballyhoura Apple  and Custard Tart 


This tart is delicious made with Ballyhoura Red of Gold apples.  Pears, gooseberries, apricots, rhubarb and plums are also good and the custard could be flavoured with a little cinnamon instead of vanilla if you want to ring the changes.


Serves 10-12



225g (8oz) plain flour

pinch of salt

175g (6oz) butter

1 dessertspoons icing sugar – where does the icing sugar go into the recipe?

a little beaten egg or egg yolk and water to bind



2-3 golden delicious apples

300ml (10fl oz) cream

2 large or 3 small eggs

2 tablespoons castor sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

4-6 tablespoons apricot glaze (see recipe)


1 x 12 inch (30.5cm) tart tin or 2 x 7 inch (18cm) tart tins


First make the shortcrust pastry.

Sieve the flour, salt and icing sugar into a large bowl. Cut the butter into cubes, toss in the flour and then rub in with your fingertips. Keep everything as cool as possible; if the fat is allowed to melt, the finished pastry may be tough. When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, stop.


Whisk the egg or egg yolk and add some water. Using a fork to stir, add just enough liquid to bring the pastry together, then discard the fork and collect it into a ball with your hands, this way you can judge more accurately if you need a few more drops of liquid. Although rather damp pastry is easier to handle and roll out, the resulting crust can be tough and may well shrink out of shape as the water evaporates in the oven. The drier and more difficult-to-handle pastry will give a crisper, shorter crust.


Flatten into a round, cover the pastry with clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for 1 hour. This will make the pastry much less elastic and easier to roll.


Line a tart tin (or tins), with a removable base and chill for 10 minutes. Line with paper and fill with dried beans and bake blind in a moderate oven 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 15-20 minutes. Remove the paper and beans, paint the tart with a little egg wash and return to the oven for 3 or 4 minutes.  Allow to cool, then paint the base with apricot glaze.


Peel the apples, quarter, core and cut into even slices about one-eight inch thick. Arrange one at a time as you slice to form a circle inside the tart, the slices should slightly overlap on the inside, fill the centre likewise. Whisk the eggs well, with the sugar and vanilla extract, add the cream. Strain this mixture over the apples and bake at 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4, for 35 minutes. When the custard is set and the apples are fully cooked, brush generously with apricot glaze and serve warm with a bowl of whipped cream.



The apricot glaze here is essential for flavour not just for appearance.



Apricot Glaze


350g (12 oz) apricot jam

juice of 1/4 lemon

2 tablespoons water.


Makes 300ml (10fl oz) approximately


In a small stainless steel saucepan, melt the apricot jam with 1 – 2 tablespoons of juice or water. Push the hot jam through a nylon sieve and store in a sterilized airtight jar.

Melt and stir the glaze before use of necessary.


Categories: Darinas Blog

Marina O'Loughlin's food feed: Lionel Richie tea biscuits and macaroni pie protests

Guardian Food Blog - Fri, 07/03/2015 - 08:10

Strawberries and cauliflower – together? And how about spaghetti made with pig skin? It’s all in this week’s culinary feast
Got a great food pic? Feed @MarinaO’Loughlin on twitter orMarinapoloughlin on Instagram using #FoodFeed

In the week where Gregg’s decided to stop selling its notorious macaroni pies in favour of “trendy new snacks”, this man appears to be staging his own idiosyncratic protest. Two things: a macaroni pie (hot water crust pastry, the kind of thing you get in a Scotch pie, stuffed with macaroni cheese) can be a thing of carbtastic beauty; and I’m moved to wonder what Gregg’s trendy new snacks for Scotland might be. Could they possibly be the likes of … this?

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Camilla Plum

Darina's Blog - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 15:50
Our next East Cork Slow Food event takes place next week! Camilla Plum from Fuglebjerggaard Organic Farm, Denmark will give a short demonstration on the theme, Danish Family Cooking.
She was a speaker at our inaugral Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine. We are delighted to be welcoming her back.
Camilla is one of the most beautiful cooks I know. I love her food and it's always a joy for me to cook with her and to be invited to join her table. Whenever she comes to stay with me, she dons an apron, twists a scarf around her head, and disappears off into the garden. She returns with her apron full of fruits, vegetables, fresh herbs and foraged goodies ready to cook a yummy supper. So she's my dream house-guest.

In the last number of years Copenhagen has become centre of the gastronomic world. The Nordic food revolution it spawned has inspired people all over the world. But the food that restaurants like Noma serve - although sublime - is quite different to the wholesome and delicious seasonal Danish home cooking that people are less familiar with.

A little more about Camilla

She published her first cookbook of healthy organic food in 1983. She worked as an organic cook whilst also writing about food for Politiken until 1987. In 1991 she founded the organic food company Den Rene Vare (‘The Real Thing’). The company’s work included the conversion of public institutions to organic food, door-to-door deliveries of organic food, cookbooks for organic kindergartens and organic catering.

In 1992 Camilla opened Denmark’s first organic restaurant, Cap Horn, and was recognised by the Danish Gastronomic Academy for her ‘Achievements in Organic Gastronomy’.

Over the course of her career she has published 17 books and worked on numerous TV series featuring such topics as gardening, slow food and baking.

Date & Time: Wednesday July 8th at 7pm
Venue: Ballymaloe Cookery School
Cost: Slow Food Members €8.00 | Non Slow Food Members €10.00
Bookings: +353 (0)21 464 6785 | email: 

Proceeds go to the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project.  We would love to see you - tell your family and friends.....
Categories: Darinas Blog

Death of the quick pint?

Guardian Food Blog - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 11:41

As a new report suggests that more than 90% of pub visits involve the eating of food, is the age of the quick pint and boozy drinking den over?

There are certain statistics that stop you in your tracks. For instance, did you know that the Bee Gees have sold more than 200m records? That nearly 10 million people watched the Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas special? Or that less than one-in-10 visits to the pub are now solely for the purpose of having a drink?

“Sorry, come again?” you may ask of that last factoid, and you would be right to question it. Despite the headlines that greeted this latest research from market analysts NPD, its central thrust – that British pubs are now primarily places to eat rather than drink – is not quite as dramatic as it first appears. NPD reported that 92 out of every 100 pub visits now involve the consumption of food. But when I asked NPD to clarify this, it transpires that it counts crisps and nuts. “If the panellist considers a pint and crisps as their dinner, they can declare them as such,” said a spokesperson.

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I ate Sriracha hot sauce on everything for an entire day

Guardian Food Blog - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 11:00

Bananas, porridge, quiche, even sweeties – I smothered them all in the famous chilli-garlic sauce. It started badly, and ended in hot-tongued outrage

Urban Dictionary calls it “hipster tabasco”. When it looked as if its Los Angeles factory might be closed as a public nuisance, there were jokes with an air of panic about an international shortage.

Sriracha hot sauce, which originated in eastern Thailand, is a mix of garlic, sugar, chillis, vinegar and salt. It may be derided as a modish condiment, but it is extremely tasty, and sparks the kind of devotion that prompts fans of the bright red bottle to buy T-shirts with it on the front and say things like: “Oh, I have it with everything.” Now, you can get a keyring-friendly mini-pack, meaning that it can be on hand at all times. So, I decided to spend a day having it with everything.

We dab it on the pig’s eyes until it looks like a grinning demon, and chuck it down the hatch

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Family Reunion Weekend

Darinas Saturday Letter - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 15:37


Nowadays, in our crazily busy lives, years can flash by in a hectic blur. Suddenly we realize that we haven’t seen or sometimes heard from favourite cousins or even aunts and uncles for years. This came home to me recently when one of my grandsons went to boarding school and found himself sharing a room with a cousin whom he had never met – now they are firm friends. This was a wakeup call – could some of the younger generation pass each other in the street without realizing they were related?

So a few weekends ago, we had a wonderful Family Reunion Weekend – I invited my immediate family of course siblings + spouses and their children, uncles, aunts,  1st, 2nd and 3rd cousins and some as the saying goes ‘once removed’. We had a ‘whale of a time’.

People started to arrive on Saturday from as far away as Bermuda and Dubai and of course from all over Ireland and the UK.  We’d arranged for a Kids tea for the under 10’s followed by a treasure hunt around the garden. We gave everyone a name badge so they could identify each other or at least attempt to at a glance – at least 25% of people at the reception didn’t know each other.

The Welcome Reception was lively and convivial, when we went in to dinner, everyone was instructed by ‘bossy me’ to sit beside someone they’d never met before or at least hadn’t seen for ages.  It was so fun, not an awkward second.

A few weeks earlier we’d asked people to rummage round in boxes in the attic for old  photos, many responded and so we had an intriguing collection pinned up on a long noticeboard in the hallway. We had a stack of pencils so people could identify their younger selves or siblings, relatives or neighbours. The party also prompted several families to speed up work on the Family Tree, something we tend to be totally disinterested in until we get a bit older. My children were intrigued to learn about my O’Connell and Tynan ancestors and the colourful clan they have descended from. People chatted and chatted until after midnight, the youngsters bonded and went to the local. On Sunday morning, there was an option to see our tiny Jersey herd being milked, feed the calves and pigs, feed the hens, collect the eggs….

From 10am onwards we had a breakfast brunch, not a rasher or a cornflake in sight but lots of homemade muesli and granola, a compote of new seasons rhubarb, bowls of steaming Macroom oatmeal with soft brown sugar and Jersey cream, Labneh with saffron and pistachio, thick unctuous yoghurt and honey, homemade brown soda and Spotted Dog as well as brown yeast bread and crusty sour dough loaves, Jersey butter and lots of homemade jams, marmalade and local honey. Then there was a beautiful board of  Irish farmhouse cheeses, a dish of freshly pulled radishes from the garden and some artisan meats – a simple feast not ‘a fry’ in sight but our second son in law Philip cooked breakfast pizzas in the wood-burning oven with those lovely fresh eggs the children had collected earlier.

After breakfast a nature hunt for the children and a walk through the farm and garden for the grownups or an opportunity to see Clancy making cheese. Then after a spot of visiting we all went for a walk on Shanagarry strand.  The children built sand castles on the beach, decorated them with shells and frolicked in the sea in the shallow waves, others flew kites in the breeze. By late afternoon after copious cups of tea and scones, everyone was saying reluctant goodbyes and resolving to keep in touch. Why not plan a family get together soon, here are some of the dishes we enjoyed together.

Hot Tips

Book of the Week

Vegetarian Cooking Step by Step by Lena Tritto has just landed on my desk. This book is ideal for novice cooks who want to see recipes visually laid out by the step-by-step techniques for every stage of preparation and will be especially useful to students about to embark on their first tentative attempts at cooking away from home. It explains the techniques for using tofu, seitan, tempeh and many other ingredients that may be unfamiliar. As well as being an eminent cookery teacher Lena Tritto is a graduate in Chinese medicine from Tao School in Bologna.  Published by Grub Street.


The excellent and much loved Midleton Country Market is moving to Market Green. Every Friday from 9am-3pm you will find lots of homemade breads, cakes, fresh eggs, jams……


Middle Eastern Bites – You will find Marguerite McQuaid at the Wilton Farmers Market every Tuesday from 10am-3pm. Her stall is choc a bloc with tempting Middle Eastern food – from falafal to red peper ajvar , flatbreads,  labneh, lovage and raspberry cordial, rhubarb and ginger cordial….all made with fresh herbs,  freshly ground spices…


Spotted Dog

During my childhood, many people in the country were poor, and their daily staple would have been wholemeal bread. White flour was more expensive than brown so white soda bread was considered to be more luxurious – a treat for special occasions. At times of the year when work was harder, such as at harvest or threshing, or maybe on a Sunday when visitors were expected, the woman of the house would add a bit of sugar and a fistful of dried fruit and an egg to the white bread to make it a bit more special. Nowadays, this does not seem such a big deal but back then any money that the woman of the house got from selling her eggs was considered to be her ‘pin money,’ used for little luxuries such as hatpins. Putting an egg into the bread was one egg less that she could sell, so it actually represented much more than it would for us today. This bread was called Spotted Dog, and when it was still warm, she’d wrap it in a tea towel and bring it out to the fields with hot sweetened tea in whiskey bottles wrapped in newspaper or cloth to insulate them. The farm workers would put down their tools and sit with their backs to the haystacks. She’d cut the bread into thick slices and slather on yellow country butter. My memories of sitting down with them are still really vivid. We sometimes make ‘spotted puppies’ which are the same bread,

shaped into 6 rolls and baked for 20minutes.


Makes 1 loaf


450g (1lb/4 cups) plain white flour, preferably unbleached

1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 level teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

75g (3oz) sultanas (or more if you’d like)

1 organic egg

about 350 – 425ml (12-14fl oz/1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups) buttermilk


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


In a large mixing bowl, sieve in the flour and bicarbonate of soda; then add the salt, sugar and sultanas. Mix well by lifting the flour and fruit up in to your hands and then letting them fall back into the bowl through your fingers. This adds more air and therefore more lightness to your finished bread. Now make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Break the egg into the base of a measuring jug and add the buttermilk to the 425ml (14fl oz/1 3/4 cup) line (the egg is part of the liquid measurement). Pour most of this milk and egg mixture into the flour.


Using one hand with the fingers open and stiff, mix in a full circle drawing in the flour mixture from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, but not too wet and sticky.


The trick with Spotted Dog like all soda breads, is not to over mix the dough. Mix it as quickly and gently as possible, thus keeping it light and airy. When the dough all comes together, turn it out onto a well-floured work surface. Wash and dry your hands. With floured fingers, roll the dough lightly for a few seconds –

just enough to tidy it up. Then pat the dough into a round about 6cm (2 1/2 inches) deep. Transfer to a baking tray dusted lightly with flour. Use a sharp knife to cut a deep cross on it, letting the cuts go over the sides of the bread. Prick with knife at the four triangles. Put into the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Cook for 35-40 minutes. If you are in doubt about the bread being cooked, tap the bottom: if it is cooked it will sound hollow. This bread is cooked at a lower temperature than soda bread because the egg browns faster at a

higher heat.


Serve freshly baked, cut into thick slices and smeared with butter and jam. Spotted Dog is also really good eaten with Cheddar cheese.




Serves 8-10


2kg (4 1/2lb) thick homemade yoghurt (see recipe) or Greek yoghurt

generous pinch of saffron strands

1 tablespoon warm water

1/4 teaspoon roughly crushed green cardamom seeds

225g (8oz/1 cup) caster sugar

2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) coarsely chopped pistachio nuts




Put a square of muslin into a bowl.  Pour in the yoghurt, tie the ends and allow to drip overnight (save the whey to make soda bread).  Transfer the dripped yoghurt into a clean bowl.  Infuse the saffron in a tablespoon of warm water in a small bowl.  Stir into every last drop into the yoghurt.  Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods.  Crush lightly, add to the yoghurt with the caster sugar, mix well.  Turn into a serving dish.  Chill.  Sprinkle the top with roughly chopped pistachio nuts and serve.  Delicious on it’s own but also memorable with Summer berries.



Pea and Coriander Soup


This utterly delicious soup has a perky zing with the addition of fresh chilli.


Serves 6 approximately


1lb (450g/4 cups) peas (good quality frozen are fine)

2 ozs (50g/1/2 stick) butter

5 ozs (150g/1 cup) onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 1/2 pints (900ml/3 3/4cups) home-made chicken stock

2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) approx. chopped fresh coriander

salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar



softly whipped cream

fresh coriander leaves


Bring the chicken stock to the boil.


Melt the butter on a gentle heat add the onion, garlic and chilli.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and sweat for 3-4 minutes.  Add the peas and cover with the hot stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5-8 minutes.  Add the coriander and liquidise.  Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of sugar, which enhances the flavour even further.  Serve with a swirl of softly whipped cream and a few fresh coriander leaves sprinkled over the top.



A Selection of Devilled Eggs


Devilled eggs are having their moment in the spotlight once again. The Green Table in Chelsea Market in New York served a selection of 4 on their lunch menu as the star item



Makes 8



4 free range eggs

2-3 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped Chives

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste



Lower the eggs gently into boiling salted water, bring the water back to the boil and hard boil the eggs for 10 minutes in boiling water, drain and put immediately into a bowl of cold water.  (Eggs with a black ring around the yolk have been overcooked). When cold, shell, slice in half lengthways. Sieve the yolks, mix the sieved egg yolk with mayonnaise, add chopped chives and salt and pepper to taste. Fill into a piping bag and pipe into the whites. Garnish with a sprig of parsley or chervil and serve on a bed of wild watercress leaves.



Country Relish Eggs


Makes 8 halves


As above, add 1 tablespoon of sieved Ballymaloe Country Relish to the sieved egg yolk with the mayonnaise. Season well taste for seasoning.

Decorate with a sliver of gherkin and a cheeky chive.


Kalamata Eggs


Makes 8 halves


As above and add 4 black Kalamata olives stoned and finely chopped to the sieved egg. Continue as above. Decorate with a sliver olive and a sprig of chervil.


Anchovy Eggs


Makes 8 halves


As above – add 2 – 4 finely mashed anchovies and 2 teaspoons of finely chopped parsley to sieved yolk and proceed as above. Garnish with a sprig of fennel and a fennel flower if available.




Wasabi Eggs


Makes 8 halves


Add ½ teaspoon of wasabi puree to the sieved egg yolk with the mayonnaise, taste and correct the seasoning. Garnish with wild garlic or chive flowers in season.


To Serve


Choose rectangular plates if available. Arrange a few wild watercress leaves on the plate and top with four devilled eggs of different flavours. Garnish each and serve with brown yeast bread.




Roast Rhubarb



900g (2lb) rhubarb

350g (12oz/1 1/2 cups) sugar


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


Slice the rhubarb into 2 1/2cm (1 inch) pieces and place in a medium size oven proof dish.  Scatter the sugar over the rhubarb and roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes approximately depending on size, until the rhubarb is just tender.




Categories: Darinas Blog

Burger with kitchen sink, and Quebecois dumplings – pick of the food web

Guardian Food Blog - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 08:10

How can you even taste the five-week-aged longhorn? Plus Mitch Tonks burns his Tripadvisor ‘certificate of excellence’ in this week’s culinary roundup

Got a great food pic? Feed @MarinaO’Loughlin on twitter or Marinapoloughlin on Instagram using #FoodFeed

Burgers are getting more and more pimped and this – by Birmingham slingers, The Original Patty men, and winner of a recent burger-off – is wearing the full shiny duds. With its pork scratching crumbs, peppered salami crisps and the rest of the kitchen sink, it seems pointless. How could you taste the “5 week aged longhorn beef 4 cut blend patty” with all that going on? White bbq sauce – the Alabama sauce in question – is a new one on me, in its native form, mayo loosened with vinegar, mustard, garlic, horseradish. Overkill. But I confess I’d give it a red hot go in, er, the name of research.

Continue reading...

Magic Cookie Bars (Gluten-Free)

Food Renegade - Tue, 06/23/2015 - 19:09
Sometimes you just have to re-create the delicious recipes of your youth using wholesome, REAL FOOD ingredients. These gluten-free Magic Cookie Bars are amazing!

Honey & Co.

Darinas Saturday Letter - Mon, 06/22/2015 - 16:50


We’ve christened Itamar and Sarit from Honey & Co, because they are just that. We’ve had them here at Ballymaloe Cookery School all weekend. On Saturday they taught two classes and charmed the audience with their easy manner and utterly delicious food. They cooked many of the favourite Middle Eastern dishes from Honey & Co, their tiny restaurant in Warren Street in Fitzrovia. It seats just 24 people and snugly at that but serves about 150 who come for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 8.00am-10.30pm.

Sarit Packer has been cooking and baking since she was five, trained at Butlers Wharf and at the Orrery under Chris Galvin, where she learned, amongst other things, to make Pâte de fruits, which up to then was her sole ambition in life. In her spare time she sleeps. Itamar Srulovich born and raised in Jerusalem. Cooking since the  age of five and leaving a great mess  in the kitchen ever since, he trained on the job in various places in Tel-Aviv. He prefers eating to cooking and sleeping to both, he is very happily married to Sarit.

They serve a lot of iced tea and homemade lemonades at Honey & Co. This orange blossom one is a particular favourite. Sarit tells us that “what we’re about is homemade flavours” and it just struck me that so many of the restaurants that people love nowadays in particular in London and New York are about homemade flavours. There’s of course are Middle Eastern and there are some dishes that they simply can’t take off the menu,  falafel and their cherry pistachio cake.

Spices, dried mint, tahini and sumac, zaltar and pomegranate molasses are very important in Middle Eastern food but we can get all these ingredients fairly easily now both in ethnic shops, supermarkets and of course mail order. Ottolenghi has a brilliant mail order service

Mableb was a new ingredient for me, it’s made from ground up cherry stones and gives a bitter almon flavour to cakes and cookies.  It too is available by mail order. It’s a bountiful time in the farm and in the gardens. Itamar and Sarit were so excited by the quality of the beautiful fresh produce. We had lots of fresh peas, courgettes and their flowers, broad beans and the first tiny cucumbers. A joy to eat and cook with.

Observer Food magazine awarded Honey & Co Newcomer of the Year in 2013.  They have just celebrated their third anniversary so Pam baked them a gorgeous 3 tier cake embellished with roses, raspberries and spun sugar. Somehow in the midst of all they wrote the Honey & Co cookbook which was published by Salt Yard Book Co in 2014 to huge acclaim.

Both Sunday Times and Fortnum and Mason awarded Honey & Co Cookbook of the Year 2015 and just last night they won the UK Food Writers Guild, First Cookbook Award.

This is another restaurant to put on your London list and don’t forget to tell them that you made the discovery in the Irish Examiner.

Here are some of the dishes that enchanted us all from their course but there’s plenty more gems in their cookbook.


Hot Tips

East Cork Slow Food

Don’t’ miss Tara Shine’s Head of Research and Development at the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice,  inspirational talk on Sustainability and Climate Change at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Tuesday June 23rd at 7pm.

Phone 021 4646785 for details.


Long to Grow your own Organic Vegetables – yes you can…..

Susan Turner, Head Gardener at the Ballymaloe Cookery School will provide you with the necessary skills to develop sustainable organic growing techniques. In one busy day, she’ll cover successional sowings, attracting beneficial insects and pest control, crop management, feeding regimes & harvesting organic year round crop production……..

You’ll also enjoy a delicious lunch with seasonal organic produce from the farm and gardens and the opportunity to exchange ideas. Susan’s many fans will confirm that her courses are dynamic and inspirational and tailored to every level, from novices through to avid gardeners.

Students who wish to continue learning from Susan can progress to our Organic Horticulture: Autumn Harvesting & Winter Crops course later in the year.

Shanagarry Pottery Câfe – pop in when you are visiting the pottery.  Christine Crowley (ex Ballymaloe Cookery School student) has taken over for the summer. She’s a beautiful cook and is open seven days a week for brunch, light lunches, sweet treats and delicious freshly ground Golden Bean coffee. Her small daily menu of yummy local produce also includes one her Middle Eastern favourites. Monday to Saturday 10-5pm, Sunday 11-5pm

Phone number 021 4646807.


Orange Blossom Iced Tea 


1.5 litres (2 1/2 pints/6 1/4 cups) water
2 Earl Gray tea bags

300ml (10fl oz/1 1/4 cups) base sugar syrup, 6 fl ozs might be enough, add more if necessary
2 teaspoons orange blossom water
4 springs of fresh mint
1 orange, cut in thin slices, skin and all

Bring the water to a boil in a pan, add the tea bags and stir around. Turn off the heat and leave to steep for 15 minutes.

Remove the tea bags, add the sugar syrup and blossom water and stir to mix. Decant into a bottle or jug and push in the mint sprig and orange slices. Place in the fridge to cool entirely. Serve with loads of ice.

Pimp your tea – crush some fresh mint leaves at the bottom of a lowball glass, add a shot or two of rum, top up with ice and iced tea and lots of ice.


Sugar Syrup

200g (7oz/scant 1 cup) sugar

200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) water

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) glucose or honey


Mix everything together in a small pan and bring to the boil over a high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes.  Leave to cool, then transfer to a clean bottle or other container and store in your fridge for up to a week.


Yemeni Style Falafel 


Itamar is a quarter Yemeni on his grandfather’s side.  This falafel is a tribute to that heritage, and it is great – the traditional Yemeni combo of coriander, cardamom and garlic makes it super-vibrant in colour and flavour.


1/2 onion (approx. 60g/2 1/4oz)

1 clove of garlic (peeled)

250g (9oz) soaked chickpeas (125g (4 1/2oz) dried)

1 green chilli, seeds and all

3 springs of parsley, picked

1 small bunch of coriander (about 15-20g/1/2 – 3/4oz), leaves and top part of stems only

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom pods

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) garam flour (use plain if needs be)

1 teaspoon baking powder


To make the falafel

If using a meat grinder.

Use the coarse grinder blade if you have one we find it gives the best texture.  Cut the onion and garlic into dice so that you can easily feed them through the grinder.  Mince the chickpeas, onions, garlic, chilli and herbs into a bowl.

Add all the spices, salt, flour and baking powder and mix well to a very thick mass.


If using a food processor.

Start with the onion, garlic, chilli and herbs and pulse them to chop roughly, then add the chickpeas and blitz until everything becomes a thick paste with small, even-sized bits.   You may need to scrape the sides down and blitz for another pulse or two to make sure that everything is evenly chopped, but do not overwork.  The best way to check whether it is done enough is to scoop up a small amount and squeeze it together in your palm – it should hold its shape.  If it falls apart, return it to the processor for another spin.  Tip the mixture into a large bowl, add the spices, salt, flour and baking powder and mix until all is combined well.


Preheat the deep fry 170C/325F.

Test the oil temperature by placing a small piece of bread or falafel mix in the hot oil – as soon as it starts to bubble up and float, you are ready to go.


You can shape the falafel mix in a few different ways:

Use damp hands and make little balls or torpedo shapes or you can simply drop in spoonfuls of the mixture for free-form falafel.  You want to be making them about the size of a walnut, no bigger, so that they cook through and crisp up at the same time.


Carefully place the falafel in the oil – don’t overcrowd the pan and fry until the exterior is browned and crisped (about 2-3 minutes).  Remove to a plate covered with a paper towel to absorb the excess oil and repeat the process until you have fried them all.


Serve immediately with tahini (see recipe).





The quality of your tahini depends hugely on the type of tahini paste you use.

We use Al-Yaman from Lebanon which is delicious, but if you are lucky enough to find any of the Palestinian varieties, especially the Prince and Dove brands, you are in for a treat.  As a rule, you are looking for something from Lebanon, Palestine or Turkey.

We make our tahini in a food processor, as it gives a smooth, airy, mousse-like texture, but you can achieve good results with a bowl, a spoon and some wrist action.


Makes about 240g (8 3/4oz)


125g (4 1/2oz) tahini paste

1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced

a pinch of salt, plus more to taste

juice of 1 lemon, plus more to taste

about 120ml (4 1/3fl oz/generous 1/2 cup) water


Place the tahini, minced garlic, salt and lemon juice in a bowl or food processor, add half the water and mix. It will go thick and pasty but don’t fear – just continue adding water while mixing until it loosens up to a creamy texture. Don’t be tempted to add too much water as the mixture will go runny, but if this happens, you can always bring it back with a little extra tahini paste. Taste and adjust salt and lemon to suit your taste buds.



You can keep tahini in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days, but it will thicken and the flavour may need adjusting with a little more salt and/or lemon.  As a result we think it’s best to make it and eat it the same day – fresh is be

Lamb Siniya


Serves 4- 6 as a main course

(there is not much meat but the topping is quite rich)


Make this instead of a Shepard’s` pie next time you buy lamb mince for dinner.


1 small cauliflower, broken into florets (approx. 350g/12oz florets)

1 litre (1 3/4 pints/scant 4 1/2 cups) water

1 teaspoon salt


For the Lamb

2 onions (approx. 200g), peeled and finely chopped

2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon salt

500g (18oz) minced lamb

1 teaspoon coarsely ground fennel seeds

2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) bahart spice mix (see recipe)

1 tablespoons (1 American tablespoon and 1 teaspoon) tomato purée


Tahini Topping

200g (7oz) yogurt

200g (7oz) tahini paste

2 eggs

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon and 1 teaspoon) lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-2 tablespoons (1 1/4 – 2 1/2 American tablespoons) pine nuts


To Serve

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon and 1 teaspoon) chopped parsley


Place the cauliflower in a saucepan with the water and salt. Bring to the boil and cook for 5-6 minutes until the florets is soft.  Drain and place in a shallow saucepan or casserole about 22cm (8 3/4 inch) in diameter.


Fry the onions on a medium heat in a frying pan with the oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt until the onions start to go golden.

Add the minced lamb and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, increase the heat to high and use a spoon to break up the meat into little pieces.  When the lamb starts to brown, sprinkle on the ground fennel and baharat spice and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Stir in the tomato purée and continue to cook for a further 3 minutes, then spread all over the cauliflower in the casserole dish. You can prepare this stage up to a day in advance – just cool, cover and store in the refrigerator until needed.


Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 (160 Fan)


Mix all the topping ingredients together apart from the water and pine nuts.  If the mixture is very thick, stir in enough of the water to loosen slightly – the consistency should resemble thick yoghurt.


Spread the topping over the lamb in the dish.  Sprinkle the pine nuts all over and bake in the centre of the oven at for 15 minutes or until the tahini looks set and slightly golden.


Sprinkle the parsley and serve.


Baharat – Savoury Spice Mix 


This, like its namesake in our kitchen, is the backbone of everything we make and, like its namesake, has endless depth and beauty, and improves almost anything.

You can use ready-made baharat spice mix instead or Lebanese Seven Spice which is sold in most large supermarkets – it will taste slightly different but will still be tasty.


1 dried chilli

3 teaspoons coriander seeds

4 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoons ground pimento (all spice)

1 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric


Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5 (170C Fan)


Crack the dried chilli open and shake out the seeds.  Place the deseeded chilli on a baking tray with the coriander and cumin seeds and roast for 6 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool entirely on the tray.   Crumble the chilli between your fingers, then grind all the roasted spices to a powder.  Mix with the dried ground spices and store in an airtight container.  It will keep for 6 months, but ideally use within 2 months for the full effect.



Cherry, Pistachio and Coconut Cake


This was the first cake I made for the restaurant.  We wanted something that would sit on the bar counter and just make people stare.  It has been with us from the first day and I have a feeling it will stay there until the end.  We do vary the fruit on top, so we use red plums or yellow plums or raspberries, but really the cherries are the best version.  The contact between the cherries and the green pistachios, and the addition of mahleb to the cake batter, together create something electric. It is such an easy recipe to follow, I am sure it will become a huge favourite in any household.


Makes a 22cm (9 inch) diameter round cake


100g (3 1/2oz/scant 1/2 cup) sugar plus 20g (3/4oz/scant 1/8oz) for the topping

90g (3 1/4oz/scant 1/2 cup) light brown sugar

180g (6 1/4oz) ground almonds

30g (1 1/4oz) ground pistachio

45g (1 3/4oz) desiccated coconut

50g (2oz/1/2 cup) self-rising flour

a pinch of salt

1 teaspoon ground mahleb

150g (5oz/1 1/4 sticks) butter – melted

3 eggs

300g (12oz) cherries

50g (2oz) rough chopped pistachios for the topping


Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5 (170C fan).


Lightly grease the cake tin with butter.


Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Pour over the melted butter and mix in the eggs, spoon the batter into the pre-greased tin and smooth down.


Remove the stones from the cherries – you can do this with a cherry stoner or by just pulling them apart and popping the stones out with your fingers. I like to do this over the cake tin, so that any juice drips onto the cake and adds colour.  Drop the pitted cherries onto the batter and sprinkle the top of the cake with the remaining 20g (3/4oz) of sugar and the roughly chopped pistachios.  Bake in the centre of the oven for 25-30 minutes, then turn the cake around and bake for a further 8-10 minutes until the cake  between the cherries goes all golden.


Allow the cake to cool in the tin, as it needs time to settle, then gently remove by running a knife around the edges.  Covered well, it will keep in the fridge for up to a week (not much chance of that happening), but for the best flavour, allow it to return to room temperature before eating.





Categories: Darinas Blog


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