Food Blogs

Clove Oil for Teething Babies: Busted Essential Oil Myth #1

Food Renegade - Tue, 09/16/2014 - 04:07
Your baby is teething. You want to help. You reach for the Clove essential oil... WAIT! Before you apply that ultra concentrated product to your baby's gums, please read this post. I want to explain why this is not recommended, and offer you some safe alternatives.

The rise of canned beer: anyone fancy a tinnie?

Guardian Food Blog - Fri, 09/12/2014 - 13:01

Craft brewers are choosing cans over bottles because they are cheaper, easier to recycle, look good and make the beer taste great. Here are five of the best craft cans have you made the switch yet?

For many, the words canned beer conjure images of fizzy, tasteless lager enjoyed on park benches and at overcrowded music festivals a far cry from the quality ales that pass the lips of any self-respecting beer fan. But all this could be about to change as a new breed of British brewer begins to opt for metal in favour of glass.

As with many of the trends currently steering the British beer scene, this one started in the US. In 2002, Oskar Blues in Colorado became one of the first independent breweries to can their beer. The tipple, called Dales Pale Ale, went on to win numerous industry awards, triggering a wave of canning that continues today. According to Peter Love, the owner of one of the USs most successful canning companies, Cask, sales of craft beer cans in the US are up 89% year on year; bottles, meanwhile, are only up a pithy 9%. In the UK, it is even more dramatic specialist beer distributor James Clay, for instance, has seen sales of canned beer rocket by more than 250% this year.

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A national cake for Scotland: can anyone beat Tunnock's?

Guardian Food Blog - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 15:42

Today is the national day of Catalonia, traditionally marked with a hearty slice of the official Catalan cake. What would Scotlands national cake look and taste like?

Today is la Diada, the Catalan national day, marking Catalonias defeat 300 years ago at the hands of Philip V of Spain during the siege of Barcelona. After losing this battle, Catalans also lost their constitutions and their nationhood, yet this overwhelming defeat is the day they have chosen to celebrate Catalonia. In the 1990s, independence flag-wielding anarchists would spend the day smashing up the windows of McDonalds but then they would go home to eat cake. Today, there are numerous pro-referendum protests taking place all over the country, with at least half a million people expected to attend. Then they too will go home for some cake.

As befitting one of the most culinary developed regions in the world, there is an official Diada cake for both anarchists and mild-mannered demonstrators to come home to. In 1977, pastry chef Miquel Comas i Figueras developed the official recipe, which was then made by the Catalan Association of Pastry Chefs and presented to the Catalan parliaments president in exile, Josep Tarradellas, in France. While the Diada cake has many different variations, the official one, made from sponge covered in peach jam with creme patissiere and red strips to look like the Catalan flag, is what all the others base their recipes on. Many cake shops are still faithful to the 1977 version.

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How to make the perfect country pâté

Guardian Food Blog - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 13:07

Would you splash out on mincing and sous-vide machines in pursuit of the perfect pâté de campagne? Order pig fat and offal from the butcher? Or just pop to the supermarket for some Shippams meat paste?

How to make perfect chicken liver pâté

How to make perfect smoked mackerel pâté

I must confess that Ive been avoiding pâté de campagne. Its not that I dont like the stuff loaded on to hunks of bread in great meaty wodges, its a pretty unbeatable lunch yet I had a sneaking suspicion that making it myself wasnt going to be quite as easy as knocking up a silky chicken liver or a creamy smoked mackerel pâté. A coarsely textured terrine of pork, offal and fat seemed a more daunting proposition, somehow.

For a start, pâté de campagne contains all sorts of mysterious chunks beneath its jellied crust which I rightly surmised would be hard to come by in 21st-century Britain. For another, I had a horrible feeling I might need to invest in a mincing machine. Admittedly, this gadget had been on my list for some time, ever since I embarked on the perfect burger and discovered how inconsistent supermarket mince could be, but still, it wasnt a project that was going to be doable in an afternoon. So is homemade pâté de campagne worth the effort, or is it one of those dishes best left to the professionals?

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Coffee: how cold-brew became the hot new thing

Guardian Food Blog - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 17:17
This summer, cutting-edge coffee has been all about cold-brew, a centuries-old brew method that offers coffee geeks fresh nuances in flavour. And it is one that you can easily try at home. But why is it getting baristas so excited?

In 2014, keeping pace with coffee can be an exhausting business. First came the flat white, then an explosion in drip-filter. Suddenly, the Aeropress was everywhere and, this summer, British coffee connoisseurs have been hailing a new breakout star: cold-brew.

Not to be confused with iced-coffee (in which hot or chilled espresso-based coffees are served over ice, often with milk and syrup), cold-brew is very much what it says on the tin. Coffee grounds are steeped in room-temperature water for up to 24-hours to produce a concentrated coffee essence which is then diluted with water, usually by 50%, and served chilled.

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Gourmet baked beans: a gastronomisation too far?

Guardian Food Blog - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 15:43

You can get posh versions of everything from scotch eggs to marshmallow and now you can buy a fancy version of the Heinz classic at Fortnum & Mason, for almost a fiver. Does gourmet always taste better?

Another week, another basic food stuff being given the gourmet treatment. This week its the turn of baked beans, rebranded Proper Beans and sold fresh from the fridge in Fortnum & Masons from tomorrow. Not just Fortnum & Mason, apparently, theyll also be stocked at Londons finest provisioners, says the Proper Beans website, complete with its own Crest. You can hear the husky M&S style voiceover in the product description: Kentish cider, smoked pork collar, pumpkin and sundried tomato. Naturally, all this luxury (or pomp) comes with a price. While Heinz baked beans currently retail round 50p for a 415g tin (12p/100g), Proper Beans costs a whopping £4.75 for a 330g pot (£1.44/100g). Which is quite a markup.

Heinz baked beans transcend all classes and ages. For generations, theyve been a store cupboard staple but when they were first unloaded from a transatlantic ship, and stocked on Fortnum & Mason shelves in 1866, they were considered deeply exotic. Canning was still a bit of a novelty for most people, and the American dish had, until then, been unsampled on our foreign shores.

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Poutine: the posh chips and gravy taking over the world

Guardian Food Blog - Sun, 09/07/2014 - 17:00
The thick pile of chips, gravy and cheese curd from Canada is proving a big hit in London as the perfect hangover cure so is it time to bid farewell to the doner kebab?

Theres no denying it: when seen for the first time, poutine looks like a culinary catastrophe. But at least this Canadian concoction has the decency to acknowledge that in its name, which translates, according to one etymological theory at least, as hot mess. The thick, gloopy pile of chips, meat gravy and squeaky cheese curd (the solid product from the beginning stages of making cheese), which originated in Quebec in the early 1980s, is having a moment. It has moved away from its origins as a local late-night drinking snack, for which it is so perfectly suited that salty sauce, fatty cheese and stodgy chips are perfect for mopping up both booze and its less pleasant aftereffects and is becoming so popular that Canadian McDonalds branches have put it on the menu. Its also moving out of its home nation.

In the States, poutine is being made over, with fancy adornments and increasingly inventive twists on the curd and gravy topping. Littlefork in Hollywood, LA has duck confit, gravy, cheddar mornay and fried rosemary poutine, while The Gorbals in Williamsburg, NYC, is offering banh mi poutine with thrice-cooked fries, hoisin gravy. Its far from the cheap, easy and life-saving slopped-together heap that I was presented with by proud Canadians in a 24-hour diner in Toronto at the end of an evening of dedicated drinking with new friends. But, as happened with the explosion in popularity of ramen, perhaps the gourmet spin is a sign of poutines success.

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Chocolate Malt N’Ice Cream

Carolannes Kitchen - Sat, 09/06/2014 - 13:02

Those who know me, understand my serious love for all things banana. I could happily live on banana island. These magical nuggets of nutritious gold provide so much goodness for our bodies. From their high content of fibre, which keeps our system ticking along to the slow release of complex carbohydrates throughout the day, keeping sugar cravings at bay. I absolutely adore when they are speckled brown all over and you can smell the pungent sweetness coming from them sitting on your kitchen bench. This is when I slice them up and pop them in to the freezer for treats. I love adding them to smoothies, especially on hot days. They add a gorgeous creamy texture which also makes them the perfect core ingredient for n’ice cream!

A couple of weeks ago, the guys at Iswari sent me a goodie box full to the brim with some of their incredible products. I’m a big fan of this Irish company, based in Cork. The quality of the ingredients they use is second to none. So, when I was indulging in my N’ice Cream, I figured the Fruits of Love mix would be the perfect topping. It’s packed with crunchy almonds that have been soaked and dehydrated below 40°C, Mongolian gojis and chewtastic White Mulberries. I love the flavour of White Mulberries and it also helps that they balance out your blood sugars thus keeping sugar cravings at bay.

Soaked and dehydrated or ‘Activated’ almonds are so unbelievably good for us.Soaking activates the nuts, helping to remove the phytic acid in the outer shell. Phytic Acid is an enzyme inhibitor, which is what we want to avoid. Then, dehydrating the nuts provides us with a super crunchy and nutritious nut. The nuts are then activated during digestion, providing our systems with enzymes, rather than our bodies having to produce them during digestion.

This recipe is actually based on my favourite smoothie. A little bit of a cheat recipe but it is so indulgent whilst being so ridiculously good for you. Whenever I talk about this recipe, people look at me like I have ten heads. Ice cream that’s good for you? It’s all natural!

{Chocolate Malt N’Ice Cream}

2 Bananas, sliced and frozen

1 tbspn Green Warrior Cashew Mylk

2 tbspns Iswari raw cacao powder

1 tbspn natural peanut butter

1 tspn Iswari Maca Powder

Handful of Iswari Fruits of Love

Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blitz.

The result will be a creamy {and pretty dreamy} ice cream.

Top with Fruits of Love 

The post Chocolate Malt N’Ice Cream appeared first on Carol-Anne's Kitchen.

Categories: Past Student Blogs

Restaurants: how to complain... without losing your cool

Guardian Food Blog - Fri, 09/05/2014 - 11:40
Far from being too meek, we often lose it disastrously when trying to point out bad food or service. So how do you complain effectively?

Maybe this is indicative of why we Brits are not built to complain. Perhaps we are all wired up wrong, psychologically. But when I came across this infographic recently, my first thought was not: "It's about time someone taught restaurant staff how to handle complaints", but: "Come on, restaurant industry, grow a pair." Issued by US company, Provide Support, it is a 10-point guide to handling complaints, which fundamentally boils down to one supine dictum: the customer is always right.

But are they really? You do not have to spend long in and around restaurants to realise that the customer is often a bit of an arse. The British do not seem to complain about a problem so much as snap, suddenly flipping from tight-lipped disappointment to a state somewhere between incoherent self-righteousness and outright aggression. Customers need guidance in how to complain effectively, not vice-versa. So here is Word of Mouth's essential primer:

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Who will babysit my sourdough starter?

Guardian Food Blog - Wed, 09/03/2014 - 19:31

This may sound ridiculous if youve never kept one, but the starter for the UKs most fashionable dough needs a lot of looking after. Luckily, if you go away, there are people willing to care for it

The suitcases are packed. The neighbour has agreed to feed the cat. And detailed instructions have been left for the care of the more cultured pet. This one can be tricky. Its food must be weighed out precisely. It enjoysdaily fresh air. It becomes unruly if neglected, occasionally smashing its own cage.

House-sit a WHAT? says the woman who answers the phone at Animal Aunts.

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How to make the perfect kulfi

Guardian Food Blog - Wed, 09/03/2014 - 12:25
The popular Indian frozen dessert is made from caramelised milk, but do you really need to cook the milk for four hours? What flavouring is best? And how do you get it out of the moulds?

Kulfi (the proper name for the dalek-shaped ices found at the end of Indian restaurant menus on the rare occasion that your appetite makes it that far) isn't just the Hindi word for ice-cream and it's not just the exotic flavourings that make it taste so special.

Where western ice creams are egg-custard based, often with added cream, kulfi is traditionally made from milk alone, simmered for hours what it loses in volume it gains in gorgeous nutty caramelised flavour. It really is quite unlike any other ice.

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'My boobs are too small' - burger bar paints over 'misogynistic' slogans in ladies toilet

Guardian Food Blog - Wed, 09/03/2014 - 08:43

Almost Famous in Leeds has come under fire for painting a list of womens insecurities in the ladies toilets, including Why cant I be thinner? and Laxatives are definitely the answer

A burger bar has been forced into a quick redecoration after female customers complained that the toilet design was misogynistic.

Almost Famous, the Leeds branch of the rapidly expanding burger bar, has painted over a wall in the ladies loos which featured a list of womens insecurities, including Why cant I be thinner?, My boobs are too small, My eyes are too close together:, My hair is too frizzy and Laxatives are definitely the answer.

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KFC predicts '2015 will become the year of the pulled chicken'. Seriously?

Guardian Food Blog - Tue, 09/02/2014 - 16:29
Food purists might turn their noses up at the fast-food chain's latest marketing ploy. But the idea of slow-cooked shredded chicken may not be without precedent

When your entire business is built around chicken, that blandest of meats, it can't be easy to think of new ways to market it, so I imagine the bigwigs at KFC got pretty excited when the US barbecue craze hit these shores.

Three years later, it is finally launching its "completely unique" pulled chicken range, which features a blend of white and dark meat tossed in a mixture of spices, steeped in a sweet molasses-based sauce and then slow cooked for almost two hours (which doesn't really count as slow cooking in the world of serious barbecue, but we'll forgive KFC that) before being squashed into all manner of burger buns and wraps. According to KFC's innovation manager, Louise Direito: "If pulled pork was the dish of 2014, then 2015 will become the year of pulled chicken."

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How dare anyone criticise British food? Indigestible dinners made this country great

Guardian Food Blog - Tue, 09/02/2014 - 15:54
The US ambassador to the UK, Matthew Barzun, has said that he is sick of being served lamb and potatoes. He should try our colourless tapioca and damp brussels sprouts instead

There are five things that visitors to this country should never do: stand on the lefthand side of an escalator, mispronounce Leicestershire, assume that we all personally know Benny Hill, think that an American Express card will be useful and disparage our national diet. Matthew Barzun, the US ambassador, has just disparaged our national diet. God help him.

In an aside during a Tatler interview, Barzun made the mistake of revealing that he has been served lamb and potato 180 times since he arrived in the UK last year. Then he added: There are limits, and I have reached them. And thats him done for.

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Back to our roots: would humans be better off eating a paleolithic diet?

Guardian Food Blog - Tue, 09/02/2014 - 13:42
Raw foodists and other campaign groups are eager for us to return to the sort of food our ancient ancestors ate. But how much truth is there in their various claims, and is there any real benefit for us in the 21st century?

A friend is reading a new book called Go Wild: Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of Civilisation. It has inspired him to go a bit "paleo", diet-wise. It says, for instance, that humans were not meant to eat grains. I don't want to dis a book that could help people become more mentally and physically healthy, but the notion that human beings were somehow designed (by God? by Mother Nature?) to only ever eat or do certain things, and that these things were dictated in some heyday hundreds of thousands of years ago, comes up a lot, and smells a little like baloney to me.

Raw foodists claim we were not meant to eat anything cooked. Some vegetarian campaign groups are adamant the "natural human diet", as eaten by our ancestors, is herbivorous. Paleo dieters say we were designed to eat lots of meat and veg, and agree with the gluten-free clan that eating grains was never part of the master plan for human nutrition. Are any of them right?

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Lidls bargain bordeaux: the claret offensive

Guardian Food Blog - Tue, 09/02/2014 - 13:11

The discount supermarket chain is launching a range of cut-price fine wines, having snapped up 5% of Bordeauxs bottles. The good news is that there are some very nice wines to be had, but the prices may not be as cheap as youd expect

Apparently it is referred to within the company as the claret offensive Lidls much-publicised launch of a premium range of Bordeaux this Thursday is part of a £20m promotion to entice the middle classes away from Marks & Spencer and Waitrose.

Its not, of course, the first discount chain to have focused on fine wines. Arch-rival Aldi introduced a super premium range including bordeaux last Christmas, which generated sales of £1.35m (the average spend on a bottle from the range was an astonishing £19.35). And Tesco has been buying bordeaux en primeur (in advance of bottling) for a couple of years now to bring the sought-after 2009 and 2010 vintages to its customers. In a flash sale the other day it drastically reduced a number of bin ends including the 2007 Chateau la Conseillante from £71.50 to £44 a bottle and promises to release the 2010s it bought en primeur this Christmas.

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Protein Power Banana Mylk

Carolannes Kitchen - Tue, 09/02/2014 - 12:08


Someone told me the other day that 50% of our happiness is hereditary. So I am pretty lucky that I have the happiest parents in town. They are a pillar of strength and love. We just love to have the lolz!

The other 50%? I reckon I get it from food!! Well, most of it anyway. I’m definitely an advocate for feel good food. Not comfort eating, just eating what your body needs to lift your spirits. Obviously, exercise is another feel good activity, but I just do love to eat the best of food for my body.

Most mornings, only as of quite recently, I have been doing a 20 minute HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). Since launching Green Warrior a few weeks ago, my physical and mental health have taken a blow because all of my energy has gone into it. With this workout, I get to blow off some steam and feel pretty darn amazing afterwards. Like I’ve been given a happiness injection. I usually try and follow it with some plant based power foods. Be they nuts/nut mylk, raw cacao, fruit etc… Smoothies are an incredible way to fuel our bodies with tons of nutrients in one glass. I have become a little bit crazed about Cashew Mylk since I started producing it for Green Warrior. It adds a delicate creaminess to recipes that you once would have gotten from dairy.

Bananas – give us tons of vitamin C, Potassium and Seratonin. One of the best feel good foods.

Cashews are a great source of protein, whilst also attributing to heart health, great skin and hair and strong bones due to their copper, manganese and healthy fats content.

Peanut butter is a great source of plant based protein {26g/100g} that can be taken after a workout to help replenish your protein stores and it tastes pretty amazing too!

Cinnamon – when taken regularly can help to balance blood sugar levels and keep cravings at bay.

Coconut oil – an absolute favourite of mine. A medium chain triglyceride that converts straight to energy in our bodies and so keeps you energised for longer.

{Protein Power Banana Mylk}

300 ml Green Warrior Cashew Mylk

2 frozen bananas

1/4 tspn ground cinnamon

1 tbspn coconut oil {optional}

1 tbspn peanut butter

Place in a blender and process until smooth.


The post Protein Power Banana Mylk appeared first on Carol-Anne's Kitchen.

Categories: Past Student Blogs

Dillisk Restaurant

Darinas Saturday Letter - Mon, 09/01/2014 - 13:02


The hottest restaurant ticket this summer wasn’t in Dublin, Cork or even Galway. It’s  a little pop-up restaurant in Aughrusbeg out in the wilds on Connemara.


It’s in an old stone cottage which was used as a boat house on a sand dune close to the waters edge. The bright young chefs behind the project are Jasper O’ Connor and Katie Sanderson, (past Ballymaloe Cookery School Students) who last Easter gathered some pals around and started to renovate the fisherman’s cottage from an advanced state of dereliction. They scrubbed and white washed merrily, planted the garden, foraged and pickled. The tables and benches were assembled from old pallets, the candle sticks from wooden banisters and recycled wood. Salt and pepper is served in mussel and cockle shells. The resulting upcycled look is chic and contemporary.

The restaurant opened on 26th June and is booked out till the end of August. Lucky guests pay €50 – €55 per head for the 5 course menu which in reality is about 7 courses and includes a welcome drink. Guests can bring their own wine or craft beer.


Getting there is part of the adventure,- an enchanting drive through breathtaking Connemara. As you wend your way through the narrow boreens towards Claddaghduff.  Montbresia, ragworth, loosestrife and fluffy meadow sweet are in full bloom in the hedgerows  – a profusion of orange, yellow, purple and cream.

You’ll need to keep your eyes peeled for a tiny painted sign on drift wood for Dillisk. From the car park guests walk past Jasper and Katie’s raised vegetable and fresh herb beds. The little lean-to green house is brimming with ripe Sungold and ? tomatoes, then we wander on through the long grass to the stone cottage where the lovely Emily greeted us with a beetroot gin and tonic sprinkled with marigold petals. Katie and Jasper, who love to forage, pickle, cure and smoked change the menu almost daily. Outside the kitchen door Sam Gleeson was grilling sprouting broccoli spears over Jaspers homemade Tandoor oven before he went on to cook the tiny Naan breads for guests to nibble with the aperitif. These were topped with chopped home grown tomatoes and freshly snipped basil. Japser passed around another board with beetroot cured mackerel wrapped in slivers of cucumber. Already there was a palatable sense of excitement and anticipation among the 32 dinner guests all of whom felt they’d won the lotto to have secured a seat at the long table. The view across the white sandy beach to the Twelve Pins in the distance in the early evening light was truly magical – reminiscent of a Paul Henry landscape.

When the breeze became brisker we wandered in to take our places at the long upcycled candle lit table. Little night lights were tucked into tiny niches in the stone wall. The food began to arrive,  some served family style, other dishes were plated. First there was a smoked dillisk broth with Aitor’s garden greens, then bowls of freshly picked cockles with lovage, an extra treat that didn’t even appear on the hand written menu. Tandoori cooked fresh Pollack with fennel and sea beet from the boats at nearby Cleggan harbour came next with an oyster leaf (Maritima ) ? on the edge.


Cucumber snow with goat curd and Dingle Gin came next to flit across the tongue and clear our pallets. Main course was Achill Island lamb, both slow cooked shoulder and belly with sleabhac (seaweed) and bowls of roast new potatoes and aioli.

Honey carrageen moss, chocolate soil and wild sorrel, another inspired combination continued the foraging theme. But that wasn’t all there were two more surprises, a play on the American ‘pickle back’,  two little shot glasses arrived, one with pickle juice, the other with Teelings whiskey and last but not least home made marshmallows with flaked almonds, a wild strawberry and a sorrel leaf to pop into your mouth all in one go completed the feast.


The guests were a mix of locals, holiday makers artists, farmers, restauranteurs , teckies, sailors, golfers, lawyers and  musicians, among them sean-nos  singer  Norin Ui Riain and her equally gifted son Moley of (Owen & Moley) who jumped up spontaneously towards the end of the meal and sang an ode to Katie and Jasper and all their lovely friends who worked so hard and cheerfully to produce a feast from their tiny kitchen and a truly memorable evening and food experience for all of us.


Ireland surely needs more imaginative and talented young people like Jasper and Katie and their full loving imaginative friends to give our visitors a real taste of the local and foraged food of that place


Where did Katie and Jasper pop out of ?


Katie is already known to many through her previous creative projects – Living Dinners,  the Hare Café at IMMA in Dublin.

Jasper honed his skills at Town Bar and Grill, the Cake Cafe, Ard Bia and an exciting stint in the US.


Beetroot Cured Mackerel with Courgette and Lemon Crème Fraiche


50 canapes, approx..


4 mackerel fillets

4ozs (100g) sugar

4 ozs (100g) salt

8 ozs (200g) raw beetroot, finely grated

3 small fresh courgettes

6 ozs (150g) crème fraiche

Grated zest of  2 lemons

Salt and freshly ground pepper



Gut, clean and fillet the fish making sure that all the bones have been removed.


Mix the salt and sugar together, sprinkle 1/3 on the base of a small shallow dish, choose one just wide enough to hold the fish fillets.


Smear both sides of the fish fillets with the grated beetroot,  then lay 2 fillets skin side down on the cure. Dust with more of the cure, then lay the other two fillets on top, skin side up, then cover with the remaining of the cure.


Cover the dish, refrigerate to allow the fish to cure for anywhere between 1 and 3 days depending on how strong you like it.


To serve:

Grate the lemon zest into the crème fraiche, season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Slice the courgettes lengthwise into paper thin slices. Cut the mackerel into 1/2inch wedges. Dab with lemon crème fraiche and wrap in a thin slice of courgette. Serve as a simple canapé on some crackers or in a summery salad.



Ham Hock and Parsley Broth


Serves 10 -15



2 mild cure ham hocks

2 onions, quarterd

1 stick celery

2 carrots, roughly chopped

1 sprig thyme

1 sprig rosemary

parsley stalks


2ltr well flavoured chicken stock

handful of Dillisk


1 kg parsley



Broad beans

Crispy pig skin

Sea rocket flowers




Put all the vegetables, parsley stalks and the ham hocks into a large pot, cover with cold water, cover the pot and simmer for 6 hours or until the meat is almost falling from the bones. Strain the liquid, separate the meat, tear into small bite sized pieces and reserve some of the liquid.


Heat the chicken stock and pour over the dillisk and allow to cool. Season with black pepper and the ham hock cooking liquid.

Pick all of the parsley leaves off the stalks, blanch in boiling water for a few seconds then refresh in iced water. Blend in a high powered food processor until smooth.

To serve,

Mix the parsley purée with the chicken and dillisk stock, add the ham hock and warm through. Season.

Jasper and Katie garnish the broth with broad beans, crispy pig skin and sea rocket flowers or fried cabbage.



Honey Carrigeen Mousse with Wild Sorrel Juice


Serves 25 – 30 people


2 ozs (50g) dried carrageen

½ cup water

1 Jar of Locally sourced Honey ( we used Cleggan  Honey)

6 egg yolks

3 whites

18 fl ozs (500 ml) cream

3 1/2oz (100g) castor sugar



Wild Sorrel leaves

Spinach leaves

1 green apple

1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum



In a small saucepan, heat the carrageen with 200ml  water, simmer gently for 25 minutes.

Pour the contents into a sieve and press the jelly like carrageen  into a bowl  with your fingers or a spoon. Warm the honey in a pot and on a low heat  for a minute or two to loosen.  Whisk the cream and half the sugar until stiff and keep aside.

Meanwhile,  whisk the egg yolks with the other half of the sugar and beat until pale and thick.

Mix the warm honey and carrageen  together and pour slowly into the egg yolk mixture.

Whisk the egg whites to a stiff peak, fold into the mixture with sweetened cream. Cover and put into the fridge to set for minimum of four hours.


To serve

Juice a handful each of wild sorrel  and spinach plus a green apple. Add some lemon juice if it needs more acidity. Blitz a 1/8 of a teaspoon of Xanthan gum into the juice (this will brighten and thicken juice). Serve the Honey Carrageen Mousse  with sorrel juice and edible flowers.





Hot Tips

The Autumn  12 Week Certificate  Course at Ballymaloe Cookery School is now over subscribed but check out the golden ticket raffle on the GIY website  for details of an opportunity to win a place on the January 12 Week course. Draw will take place at the GIY gathering in Waterford on September 13th, 2014.



Irish plums are now is season – contact Kristen Jameson at Tourin, Cappoquin, Co Waterford – phone: 087 2361984. They freeze brilliantly and make delicious jam, compotes, desserts and sauces.

Categories: Darinas Blog

Blackberries and Brambles

Darinas Saturday Letter - Mon, 09/01/2014 - 12:59


Wow, there’s going to be the hughest crop of blackberries this year so I am gearing myself up for lots of blackberry picking expeditions. We’re also planning a myriad of delicious ways to use them, not just the usual jams, jellies and cobblers but wine, liqueur and cordials. I’ll throw some fresh blackberries into smoothies and scones and scatter them over a layer of softly whipped cream to fill a feather light sponge.

A few juicy berries combined with chunks of ripe melon and shredded mint make a delicious starter and even a dessert.

I’ll also get to make that sublime blackberry trifle I tasted at Dock Kitchen, London last Autumn or even a simple blackberry and sweet geranium puff. I’m also planning to pop some in the freezer, they keep brilliantly particularly if one takes the time to tray freeze first before putting them into good strong plastic bags or boxes. Blackberries come from the Rubus Genus, the Rosacea family and there are lots of different strains, some are small, others fat and plump. Apart from being juicy and delicious, they are packed with vitamins, minerals and trace elements. They’ve got lots of fibre and antioxidants and are particularly rich in vitamin C  Vitamin – the healing vitamin.

However, they are low in pectin so jam and jelly makers will need to use jam sugar unless they combine the blackberries with tart cooking apples or crab apples to increase the acidity.

I am systematically reducing sugar by 20% in all my recipes because of my observation that the sugar we now have access to is more intensely sweet than the Irish sugar beet sugar that my original recipes were based on. However, sugar is the preservative in jams, jellies, cordials et al so be careful not to reduce too much or the preserves won’t keep.

Picking Tips

Blackberries should be selected at the peak of ripeness, unlike many other fruits they don’t continue to ripen after they are picked. Inspect each one as you pick them, the centre should be white and unblemished, if it appears stained or inky it usually indicates that the fruit has been infected by little worms.  Its worth togging yourself out with a pair of jeans and a long sleeve shirt and a leather glove to clasp the thorny brambles. When the berries are ripe they come away easily in your hands without any resistance.


Blackberry and Cinnamon Scones


Makes 18-20 scones using a 7 1/2 cm (3 inch) cutter



900g (2lb/4 cups) plain white flour

3 heaped teaspoons baking powder

pinch of salt

50g (2oz/1/4 cup) castor sugar

175g (6oz/1 1/2 cups) butter

110g (4oz) blackberries

3 free range eggs

450ml (15floz/scant 2 cups) approx. milk to mix


For glaze:

egg wash (see below)

55g (2ozs) granulated sugar for sprinkling on top of the scones

½ teaspoon cinnamon


First preheat the oven to 250ºC/475°F/gas mark 9.


Sieve all the dry ingredients together in a large wide bowl. Cut the butter into cubes, toss in the flour and rub in the butter until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the blackberries. Make a well in the centre. Whisk the eggs with the milk, add to the dry ingredients and mix to a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board.  Knead lightly, just enough to shape into a round.  Roll out to about a thickness of 2cm (1 inch) and cut or stamp into scones.  Transfer to a baking sheet – no need to grease.

Brush the tops with egg wash and dip each one into cinnamon sugar.


Bake in a hot oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool on a wire rack.

Serve split in half with butter and serve.


Egg wash:

Whisk 1 egg with a pinch of salt. This is brushed over the scones and pastry to help them to brown in the oven.




Pan Grilled Duck Breast with Blackberry Colcannon


Serves 4


4 free-range duck breasts

sea salt


Blackberry Colcannon


450g (1lb) Savoy or spring cabbage

900g – 1.35kg (2-3lb) ‘old’ potatoes, e.g. Golden Wonders or Kerrs Pinks

250ml (8fl oz/1 cup) approx. boiling milk

25g (1oz) scallion or spring onion, optional

salt and freshly ground pepper

50g (2oz/1/2 stick) approx . butter

110g (4oz) blackberries


First make the colcannon.

Scrub the potatoes, put them in a saucepan of cold water, add a good pinch of salt and bring to the boil. When the potatoes are about half cooked, 15 minutes approx. for ‘old’ potatoes, strain off two-thirds of the water, replace the lid on the saucepan, put onto a gentle heat and allow the potatoes to steam until they are cooked.


Remove the dark outer leaves from the cabbage. Wash the rest and cut into quarters, remove the core and cut finely across the grain. Boil in a little boiling water or bacon cooking water until soft. Drain, season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a little butter. When the potatoes are just cooked, put the milk, and the finely chopped scallions into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Pull the peel off the potatoes and discard, mash quickly while they are still warm and beat in enough boiling milk to make a fluffy puree. (If you have a large quantity, put the potatoes in the bowl of a food mixer and beat with the spade.) Then stir in the cooked cabbage and taste for seasoning. For perfection, serve immediately in a hot dish with a lump of butter melting in the centre.


Colcannon may be prepared ahead up to this point and reheated later in a moderate oven 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4, for 20-25 minutes approx. Cover while reheating so it doesn’t get too crusty on top.


Meanwhile score the duck skin into a diamond pattern.  Sprinkle lightly with salt.  Put a pan grill on a low heat.  Cook the duck breasts very slowly and gently for 15-20 minutes on the fat side, by then the fat should be rendered out, (pour off the excess and save for duck confit), and the skin will be crisp and golden.  Season the flesh side with sea salt and turn over, continue to cook until to your taste.   I personally like duck breast medium to well done, not fashionably rare, which frequently results in the meat being tough and stringy.


Just before serving, fold the blackberry gently into the soft colcannon.   Put a dollop on each plate and top with a whole or sliced duck breast.




Blackberry Trifle

Recipe Stevie Parle, Dock Kitchen


The combination of port and blackberries with the custard and sponge seems to really work in this trifle


Cook time: chill in fridge for 2 hours


200g/7oz sugar

275ml/½ pint cheap port

450g/1lb blackberries, plus a few extra to decorate

A squeeze of lemon juice

600ml/1 pint double cream

200ml/7fl oz whole milk

1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped

1 egg, plus 3 egg yolks

200g/7oz stale sponge cake, Madeira cake or Savoiardi biscuits

A handful flaked almonds, toasted



Place half the sugar and half the port in a pan and simmer for a couple of minutes until the sugar dissolves. Drop in the blackberries, add a squeeze of lemon, stir gently once, then take off the heat. Leave to cool.

Meanwhile, prepare the custard. Over a low heat, bring half the cream and all the milk to a simmer along with the vanilla pod. Whisk the egg and yolks with the remaining sugar for a couple of minutes until they begin to look paler. As soon as the milk is about to boil, slowly pour it over the eggs, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and stir slowly over a low heat with a wooden spoon until the custard thickens and coats the back of the spoon, about three minutes. Transfer to a chilled bowl and allow to cool.

Spoon the fruit into your trifle bowl and return the syrup to a low heat for two minutes to reduce; pour over the fruit and leave to cool. Slice the cake into 1cm-thick slices, or cut the Savoiardi biscuits in half.


Blackberry and Rose Geranium Cordial


Keep a bottle of this handy to serve over ice cream, carrageen moss pudding or panna cotta. Alternatively, dilute with hot or cold water or sparkling wine to make a delicious drink. Rose or sweet geranium (Peloganium Graveoleans)  and blackberries are a marriage made in Heaven.


Makes 1.5 litres (2 1/2 pints)


2.5kg (6lb) fresh blackberries

10–12 sweet geranium leaves (depending on size)

600ml (1 pint) water


juice of 1–2 unwaxed lemons (depending on size)


Put the blackberries, sweet geranium leaves and water into a stainless-steel saucepan.

Cook for 15–20 minutes or until the blackberries are completely soft and juicy. Crush with a potato masher. Strain through a jelly bag or tie in a square of muslin and allow to drip into a bowl. Measure the juice and allow 500g–700g (18oz – 1 1/2lb) sugar to every 600ml (1 pint) of juice. Add the lemon juice, stir to dissolve.


Hot Tips

A Week at Ballymaloe Cookery School Organic Farm and Gardens,  1st – 5th September

-  Students on this course will – Sow a seed, learn the basics of organic growing and how to make compost  – Make a cheese right from the beginning starting with adding rennet to the milk, you will turn it yourself through the week. How to work with a glut, what to do when you’re growing is too successful! Learn many recipes to make with wonderful produce and lots,  lots more ………. For further information



Iskeroon is enchantingly off the beaten track – a couple of miles down a steep meandering boreen not far from Caherdaniel in Co Kerry.  The views looking down over the sea and islands would quite simply take your breath away. David and Geraldine Hare’s chic  self-catering apartments are close to the oceans edge so you can fish, swim, sail or surf, its also a walkers paradise. If you’d just prefer to relax you could curl up on the sofa and read –  and for supper scramble some lovely fresh eggs from their happy lazy hens. – a rare and special find.

066 9475119



Date for your diary

Ballymaloe Garden Festival 30 & 31 August, another weekend full of garden workshops, walks and talks in the grounds of Ballymaloe House, specialist nursery stalls selling rare plants, seeds, garden equipment and much more. Entrance €5 per adult, children free, workshops and talks priced separately please see for more details

Categories: Darinas Blog

Gardening – Fruit and Veg in Abundance

Darinas Saturday Letter - Mon, 09/01/2014 - 12:57

For gardeners who grow vegetables and fruit, this is the time of abundance, a period of joy and frustration in equal measure. At last the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of all that digging and hoeing but often there are simply not enough meal times to use up every last scrap.

I feel horribly guilty if any gets wasted, although inevitably despite my best efforts some of the produce goes over the top. It cheers me up to know that at least it ends up on the compost heap and eventually goes back on to the earth to make the soil even more fertile  for next year’s crops.

I keep adding to my store of preserving recipes, jams, pickles, chutneys, jellies, cordials, alcohols, flavoured vinegars, fruit cheeses…..

So many exciting options, our repertoire of basic recipes are fine but the fun begins when one starts to experiment by adding spices, fresh herbs and chillies and playing around with flavour combinations.

I recently across came across Diana Henry’s book Salt, Sugar, Smoke – it’s really good, fab photos and lots of irresistible recipes using salt, sugar and smoke. So as the title promises there are lots of salted cured and potted dishes, jellies and jams of course but there are also cordials, fruit and chilli alcohols, lemonades and sherbets as well as chutneys, relishes and pickles and simple smoked foods.

Diana has a growing fan base from her earlier books, Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons, Cook Simple and Food From Plenty. She was named cookery writer of the year by the UK Guild of Food Writers on two occasions for her column in the Sunday Telegraph Stella Magazine.

Try the Moroccan spiced chutney or the Apple and Lavender Jelly with the first of the windfall apples.  Anyone who grows gorgeous white peaches in a green house or tunnel knows how difficult it is to pick them without bruising. It’s usually a feast or a famine but if you have a surplus you can discard the bruised bits and try the white peach and raspberry jam recipe. I loved it and added some fresh mint but it’s delicious on its own.


White peach and raspberry jam

Lovely to look at as it’s being made and, of course, fragrant as the scent of raspberries and white peaches blend. You can make it with yellow peaches, but it’s not as good. This jam has less sugar than is traditional, so is fresh, fruity and tart. You can add a sprig of lavender or lemon thyme.


Fills 9 x 225g (8oz) jars


900g (2lb) white peaches

600g (1lb 5oz) raspberries]

1kg (2lb 4oz) granulated sugar with pectin

(‘jam sugar’)

juice of 2 lemons


Plunge the peaches, in batches, into a pan of boiling water for one minute. Quickly remove them, run cold water over and peel off the skins. Halve, stone and cut each half into slices.


Put the peaches into a preserving pan with the raspberries, sugar and lemon juice. Gently heat, stirring to help the sugar dissolve. Once it has dissolved, whack the heat up and bring to a boil. Boil steadily until the setting point is reached (check on a sugar thermometer and do the wrinkle test as

well, skimming off any scum that rises.


Leave to cool for about 10 minutes, so the seeds end up well distributed, then pot in warm, dry sterilized jars, cover with waxed paper discs and seal. This keeps for a year; refrigerate once opened.



Apple and lavender jelly

Apple acts as the basis for many flavoured jellies, both sweet and savoury. They are so high in pectin that they produce a jelly that is easy to set, and their flavour doesn’t dominate when you mix it with other things. You can make plain apple jelly, but herbs and spices mean you have a whole array of flavours to use with different meats: lavender and rosemary for lamb, sage for

pork, for example. I prefer savoury apple jellies made with cider vinegar (so they have a sweet acid tang) but some people prefer them sweet. Properly sweet ones to be served with muffins and scones (like the Fireside Apple Jelly below and the Rose Jelly, see page 54) are made with water (add enough just to cover the apples) rather than vinegar.


Fills 7 x 500g (1lb 2oz) jars


2.5kg (5lb 8oz) cooking apples

3 sprigs of fresh lavender, plus small sprigs

for each pot

1.3 litres (2¼ pints) cider vinegar

about 1.3kg (3lb) granulated sugar

1 Cut the apples into chunks – no need to peel or core them, though remove any bruised bits – and cover with 1.5 litres (2 pints 13fl oz) of water. Add the lavender. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the apples are completely soft (about 45 minutes).


2 Add the vinegar and cook for another five minutes. Pour the mixture into a jelly bag suspended over a large bowl, and leave overnight. Do not press the apples or you’ll get a cloudy jelly.


3 Measure the liquid. For every 600ml (1 pint), you will need 450g (1lb) of sugar. Put the liquid into a preserving pan with the sugar and heat gently, stirring to help the sugar dissolve. Bring to a boil and boil until the setting point is reached on a thermometer (and do the wrinkle test, see page 11).

Skim off any scum.


4 Ladle into warm, dry sterilized jars. Put a sprig of lavender in each. Cover with waxed paper discs and seal. While it is setting, shake it so the lavender doesn’t stay at the top. This keeps for a year; refrigerate once opened.


Moroccan-spiced apricot chutney

For years I’ve made a chicken dish with apricots, honey and orange flower water. This is that sauce as a chutney. You can omit the flower water, but it lends a touch of the voluptuous east…


Fills 2 x 500g (1lb 2oz) jars


500g (1lb 2oz) dried apricots, chopped

500g (1lb 2oz) cooking apples, peeled,

cored and finely chopped

250g (9oz) tomatoes, chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

300ml (½ pint) white wine vinegar

100g (3½oz) sultanas

juice of 1 lemon

juice of 1 orange

3 tsp ground ginger

1 cinnamon stick, halved

3/4 tbsp cayenne pepper

250g (9oz) golden granulated sugar

7 tbsp runny honey (preferably orange blossom)

1 tsp orange flower water, or to taste

1 Put everything except the honey and flower water into a pan and bring to a boil, stirring to help the sugar dissolve. Reduce the heat and cook gently for one and a half hours, stirring so it does not catch.


2 Stir in the honey and cook gently for 15 minutes. Add the flower water, then taste. You might want more but don’t go mad, it should be just a fragrant whiff. Pot in warm, sterilized jars, cover with waxed paper discs and seal with vinegar-proof lids. This keeps for a year.


Loganberry or Raspberry Cordial



1½lb (700g) loganberries or raspberries

10oz (300g) castor sugar

Juice of ½ lemon

1¾ pints (1litre) water


Put the fruit, sugar and water into a stainless steel saucepan over a medium heat, add the freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Bring to the boil and simmer for 5-6 minutes or until the loganberries soften and disintegrate.   Remove from the heat, cool.

Pour through a nylon sieve.   Rub the pulp through and discard the pips.   Pour into sterilized bottles.   Seal and store in the fridge.



Hot Tip

Revelation of the Week

Guess what I discovered this week – dahlias are edible.

At Glebe restaurant in Baltimore, my green salad was scattered with bright orange and wine coloured flower petals. The lovely waitress confided that they were dahlias and Jean Perry – gardener extraordinaire shared a further nugget of information – apparently the Mexicans grew them originally for their tubers – can’t wait to taste some when my dahlias stop flowering.


The Holistic Gardener:

This book is a little gem with tons of tips on how to stay safe and deal with accidents in the garden. It is published by Mercier Press and comes from the knowledgeable and witty co-presenter of Dermot’s Secret Garden on RTE 1, Fiann O’ Nuallain,  Watch out for Fiann O Nuallain speaking at the Ballymaloe Garden Festival, August 30th  -

Categories: Darinas Blog


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