Food Blogs

What is your Food Story?

Lucy Hyland - Mon, 06/23/2014 - 11:06
Is your food story doing you any good? I’ve become deeply involved in the area of storytelling over the last few months. I have begun to unravel my own personal story and how that has impacted upon the meaning of...Read More
Categories: Interesting Blogs

Let's do lunch: why we should reclaim the midday meal

Guardian Food Blog - Mon, 06/23/2014 - 09:00
We all know that breakfast is important, but many of us overlook lunch. It's time to stop eating convenience food 'al desko' and start making exciting packed lunches

Recipe: pork rillettes with toast and cornichons

It was a classic case of misdirection. While we were busy telling our children that breakfast was the Most Important Meal of the Day, while we shovelled oversweetened granola and gulped down sugar-rich smoothies, while we yapped about antioxidants and phytoflavinoids, we somehow forgot about lunch.

Consider the grim bathos of the term al desko, the spurious arguments over the merits or otherwise of Pret v Eat, the anaemic miso soups and the homogenous sandwiches (how do they make them all taste the same? Remarkable). Lunch is not a pleasure but something to get through, to keep you going until a proper meal. Or the four o'clock slump, at least.

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Which Famous Sustainable Foodie Should Be Your Love Slave? (In the kitchen!!)

Food Renegade - Sun, 06/22/2014 - 23:33
You know you want to know! I've got a confession to make. I think it's really sexy when my husband does the dishes. I also get excited when I find someone who's as passionately devoted to Real Food as I am. I also like to have fun. That's why I created this quiz.

Teachers Culinary Research Visit to Dublin

Darinas Saturday Letter - Sat, 06/21/2014 - 13:34

The Dublin restaurant and café scene is really humming once again. Every now and then the Ballymaloe Cookery School team of teachers go on a research trip to see what is happening on the culinary food scene. Recently we did an intensive trip to the metropolis and tasted some very exciting food in a variety of restaurants and cafés. We began our trip to the Fumbally in Fumbally Lane run by Aisling Rogerson and Luca D’Alfonso and a vibrant young team. The food is simple, delicious, uncomplicated but put together in a chic and edgy way we loved the brunch dishes – the Fumbally take on the Dr Suess green eggs and ham toasted brioche with avocado and scrambled eggs and chorizo. The pulled porchetta with slow roasted shoulder of pork, caper mayo and spiced apple sauce was another great combo. Specials are written on the blackboard above the till. The fresh produce for the kitchen is piled against the wall in wooden crates like a glorious still-life in this airy contemporary space with a cool, retro, comfy, shabby chic feel yet elegant feel.
The GreenHouse on Dawson Street served a totally different style of food. Mickael Viljanen who hales from Finland is one of the most talented young chefs cooking in Ireland at the moment. He and his team cooked us a delicious three course lunch with lots of excitement on each beautifully crafted plate – a carpaccio of scallop, shoulder of suckling pig and apricot tart with elderflower ice cream.
We popped our heads into Murphys Ice cream from Dingle, wandered through the aisles of tempting fresh and delicates a produce in Fallon and Byrne. We found lots of new ingredients – fresh strawrasberries and pineberries (like underripe strawberries), Teff flour which I’d been looking out for to make an Ethopian flat bread and red rice from the Camargue. We also fled past the Pepperpot in the Powerscourt Centre where Marian Kilcoyne’s (a past student) Café Restaurant was throbbing with lots of unhearably tempting treats.
Ananda is the flagship restaurant of Asheesh Dewan’s Indian restaurant empire under the stewardship of Sunil Ghai and his team of Indian chefs certainly live up to its reputation. The Ballymaloe Cookery School tutors were totally wowed by his tasting menu which started with Pan Poori and ended with Gulab Jamun pistachio icecream and caramel mousse. We got another warm welcome from Garett Fitzgerald and James Boland at Brother Hubbards in Capel Street. This café cum deli has built up a fantastic reputation in the less than two years since they opened. The menu is packed with unbearably tempting choices, gorgeous sandwiches, salads, brunch dishes piled high on good bread from Tartine Bakery, virtually the only items that is not made from scratch in house part Garett Fitzgerald and Danielle Beattie who does all the baking are both past students of the Ballymaloe Cookery School. I loved the cannellini beans with tomato sauce and slow roasted pulled pork with a fried egg and a sprinkling of sumac on top but there were appreciative sounds coming from all directions of the table as we tasted our way through the menu.
At Palais des Thés in Wicklow Street Niall did a tutored tasting with us. We tasted a beautiful selection of exquisite teas including Thé du Hammam , Japanse Green Tea, Sencha Ariake.
A light lunch at Cornucopia the long established vegetarian restaurant in Wicklow Street was another enlightening experience.
On the way home they greatly enjoyed a visit to the Avoca shop where Butchers, Erine and Sharon explained the philosophy and skill behind the rearing and butchering and using every scrap of the animal from the nose to the tail.
Altogether a hugely enjoying and enlightening few days.

Cornucopia’s Chilled Carrot and Avocado soup

Makes 8 portions

This soup has become a very popular and everyday menu item in Cornucopia. At first people were often reluctant to try a chilled soup in our temperate climate, as a good warming bowl of soup is our traditional cure for the winter chills. However, as our customers warmed to the idea of a chilled carrot soup, news spread of the velvety smooth concoction and soon we sold out of it everyday.
The main flavours here are carrot, garlic and lemon. Using the carrot juice, avocado and olive oil as a base, try substituting fresh ginger or your fresh herb of choice instead of the garlic and lemon for variety and after a few attempts you may settle on your own personal favourite.

1.5 litre carrot juice (about 2.5 kg Carrots)
2 avocado’s, cut in half, stone removed and peeled (280g when prepped)
100ml lemon juice (about medium 4 lemons)
1 large clove of garlic, peeled
½ teaspoon sea salt
150mls extra virgin olive oil

Use a juicer to make the carrot juice. There are two ways to do this, using peeled or unpeeled carrots and it all depends on the freshness of the vegetables and how much precious time you want to spend peeling them! We have found that very fresh carrots, and taking the time to peel them ensures a brighter coloured soup. If you want to skip the peeling process then by all means do as it won’t affect the taste. To make 1.5 litres of juice, it takes approximately 2.5kgof carrots. Make sure to measure the juice from the carrots as the recipe needs 1.5 litres, if you produce more juice then drink it as a reward for all your hard work!
If you don’t have a juicer, bottled carrot juice can be substituted but as it is likely to have been pasteurized it may not taste as fresh and bright, but is a decent alternative.


Pour 750ml of the carrot juice into a large jug then add the prepared avocado, lemon juice garlic and sea salt. Pulse with a stick blender to puree then slowly pour in the olive oil and the remaining carrot juice until creamy and well combined. Pour the soup into a lidded container and place in the fridge to chill for at least two hours or more.
To serve, bring the soup to just under room, or desired temperature then stir well and pour into 8 medium bowls.


Brother Hubbard’s Middle Eastern Breakfast Plate

For our menu, I draw from our experiences of travelling around the Middle East – this is what I would have had most mornings before going off to visit the souks and the various ancient wonders.
As we head into summer, it feels like a wonderfully refreshing, light-yet-substantial, and healthy, brunch dish. It is amazingly simple to put together and to make in bigger quantities for entertaining – despite its name, I imagine it would work equally well with a glass of white wine for a refreshing and light summer supper. As with all recipes, the better the quality of your ingredients, the better the outcome!

Brother Hubbards Middle Eastern Breakfast Plate
Serves 4

1 cucumber
2 (or more) good quality tomatoes
1 block Feta Cheese (180-200g) (classic Greek Feta or similar style – white, crumbly, salty)
12 – 16 olives (we use Kalamata)
4 good sprigs of fresh mint
4 hard-boiled free-range and organic eggs (freshly cooked by boiling for 7 minutes, but cooled in cold water and then peeled)
1 quantity of Hummus (have fun with the recipe below, or a very good deli-bought variety)
Pitta Breads (1-2 per person)
170g (6oz) chickpeas, cooked, save the cooking liquid, use tinned for easy entertaining
freshly squeezed juice of 2-3 lemons, or to taste
2-3 large or small cloves garlic, crushed
150ml (5fl oz/generous 1/2 cup) tahini paste (available from health food shops and delicatessens)
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Optional: smoked salmon, cold meats, chorizo, fresh radish cut into chunks

Cut your cucumber in half lengthways and then each half cut diagonally into large bite-size chunks. Cut the ripe plum tomatoes into wedges and break the feta into larger chunks.
Place chunks of cucumber, tomato wedges, feta on large individual plates (or one giant platter to share), add a few big spoons of the hummus in a little bowl, the mint sprigs and 6-8 olives per person (see the end for a hummus recipe). Arrange so it looks like a lovely platter of freshness, colour and flavor. Serve with the egg on the plate.
We usually sprinkle some sumac over the hummus and a little za’atar over the feta – these are spices which we have gone to great trouble to source, but are often difficult to come by in Ireland. Replace with a little sprinkle of cumin or good paprika, a drizzle of lemon juice or just really great olive oil (or all of the above!).
Have this with some warmed pitta bread on the side – splash a little water on the pittas, shake off the excess and just heat under a grill or in a toaster.
If you fancy, you can serve slices of smoked salmon, cold cuts, or even some pan-fried chorizo on the side to make it more substantial.
Drain the chickpeas, save the cooking liquid. Whizz up the remainder in a food processor with the freshly squeezed lemon juice and a little cooking water if necessary. Add the crushed garlic, tahini paste, cumin and salt to taste. Blend to a soft creamy paste. Taste and continue to add lemon juice and salt until you are happy with the flavour.
If you are making the hummus (which I highly recommend), have a go at this method – it is intentionally loose so that you can develop your own approach to hummus: Take some cooked chickpeas (3 large cupfuls, or 2 tin,s drained and rinsed) and put in a food processor/blitzer, with a few dessert spoons of hot water, a few glugs of the best olive oil you have, a dessert spoon of tahini, 1 clove of minced/crushed garlic, a few good pinches of ground cumin, and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Blitz until well pureed (or less so, if you like more texture). Taste and add some salt and pepper – the consistency should be a thick paste, not too runny. Adjust the flavor until it is the way you like it (we like it with a good strong lemon tang, a brave hint of garlic and cumin, and well seasoned) – just add more of any of the ingredients listed and blitz some more to distribute the flavours, until it tastes delicious to you – tweak as you go, this really is worth having fun with and should reflect the type of hummus you like.
When eating, mix and match the flavours and textures– have morsels of the bread, dipped in the hummus, with a little cucumber, mint, feta and the other ingredients. No two mouthfuls will taste the same!

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream with Pedro Ximenza

Really good cream makes really good ice cream. This recipe is made on an egg-mousse base with softly whipped cream. It produces a deliciously rich ice cream with a smooth texture that does not need further whisking during the freezing period. This ice cream should not be served frozen hard; remove it from the freezer at least 10 minutes before serving. You can add other flavourings to the basic recipe: liquid ingredients such as melted chocolate or coffee should be folded into the mousse before adding the cream. For chunkier ingredients such as chocolate chips or muscatel raisins soaked in rum, finish the ice cream, semi-freeze it and then stir them through, otherwise they will sink to the bottom.

Serves 12–16

4 organic egg yolks
110g (4oz/1/2 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and seeds from 1/3 vanilla pod
1.2 litres (2 pints/5 cups) softly whipped cream (measured after it is whipped, for accuracy)

Pedro Ximenza

Put the egg yolks into a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy (keep the whites for meringues). Combine the sugar with 200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) of water in a small heavy-based saucepan. Stir over heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, then remove the spoon and boil the syrup until it reaches the ‘thread’ stage, about 106–113°C (223–235°F): it will look thick and syrupy, and when a metal spoon is dipped in the last drops of syrup will form thin threads. Pour this boiling syrup in a steady stream onto the egg yolks, whisking all the time by hand. (If you are whisking the mousse in a food mixer, remove the bowl and whisk the boiling syrup in by hand; otherwise it will solidify on the sides of the bowl.)
Add the vanilla extract and vanilla seeds and continue to whisk the mixture until it becomes a thick, creamy white mousse.
This is the stage at which, if you’re deviating from this recipe, you can add liquid flavourings such as coffee. Fold the softly whipped cream into the mousse, pour into a bowl, cover and freeze.
Scoop the ice-cream into chilled bowls onto plates. Drizzle a little Pedro Ximenez over the ice-cream on the plate just before you tuck in.

Hot Tips
Sumac, Za’atar and other Middle Eastern ingredients available from Fallon and Byrne, Asian Shops and from Ottolenghi by mail order –

Slow Food
Wild Salmon is now in season for a few short weeks, Slow Food are organising a Celebration of Wild Salmon at Belleek Castle, Ballina on Sunday 22nd June at 1pm. – There will be a Casting Lesson on the Lawn – Wild Salmon Canapes – A Talk on Wild Salmon by Mairin Ui Chomain and A Cookery Demonstration hosted by Chef Stephen Lenahen – phone: Suzanne 087 9170422 –

Slow Food Four Rivers in the South East of Ireland have launched a brilliant initiative, a ‘Hens for Schools’ competition
For details and how to enter, see

Date for your diary
The Westport Festival of Music & Food is back in 2014 . It is a 2 day, multi stage outdoor festival which takes place at Westport House, Westport, Co Mayo, on Sat 28th & Sun 29th June 2014. Rachel & I will be doing cookery demonstrations on Saturday 28th at 4 – 6pm respectively – we’ve so looking forward to being in lovely Mayo once again.

Categories: Darinas Blog

Is Chipotle Misguided In Its Quest For Grass Fed Beef? Texas Thinks So.

Food Renegade - Sat, 06/21/2014 - 03:16
On the heels of the announcement that Chipotle is taking tangible steps to be completely GMO-free, they've now announced that they're going to be serving 100% grass-fed beef nationwide. Unfortunately, the grass-fed cattle won't be coming from the United States. According to Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold, there simply isn't a consistent enough supply of grass-fed, antibiotic-free, hormone-free beef in the U.S. to meet the restaurant's large demand. In response to this revelation, the Texas Commissioner of Agriculture took offense and issued a statement lambasting the restaurant chain.

Why does artistically presented food taste better?

Guardian Food Blog - Fri, 06/20/2014 - 13:51
A study has shown that an artful plate of food tastes better perhaps due to the effort that has been put in, or maybe for more complex reasons. How bothered are you by presentation, at home and eating out?

You don't have to be an artist or a scientist to be a really good cook, although a little bit of art and science is involved cooking is both technical and creative. Take a perfectly cooked scotch egg. There is a precise method to be followed if you want to produce a crispy crumb and gloopy yolk, but it is the creative side that decides to serve the thing in its own garden of pea shoots, nasturtiums and skinned broad beans, a la the excellent Suffolk gastropub the British Larder.

The success of this arrangement, to my mind, is not only the fresh and peppery foils for the meat and egg. Visually, the greens put the eater in mind of nature's delights rather than the weathered cook's fingers, colour-coded chopping boards and deep-fat fryers that might have been involved in the preparation. It appeals to our nature-worshipping, uh, natures, and says: nutritious, of the earth, meant to be. And it looks beautiful.

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Fight Back Friday June 20th

Food Renegade - Fri, 06/20/2014 - 04:43
Welcome to another Fight Back Friday! Today we are bringing together another collection of recipes, tips, anecdotes, and testimonies from members of the Real Food Revolution. Who are they? Why, they're the Food Renegades. You know who you are -- lovers of SOLE (Sustainable, Organic, Local, and Ethical) food, traditional food, primal food, REAL food, the list goes on. I believe that by joining together, our influence can grow, and we can change the way America (and the industrialized world) eats! So, let's have some fun.

How to make the perfect tartare sauce

Guardian Food Blog - Thu, 06/19/2014 - 08:00
Salad cream in all but name or the perfect accompaniment to fish and chips? And is it best made sweet or sour?

Tartare sauce, that piquant gloop found in chippies and fancy fish restaurants alike, was not, you will unsurprised to hear, everyday fare on the windswept steppes of the ancient Tatar people. Instead, it has assumed the name of the more traditional Tatar dish of chopped raw meat, which it often accompanied in the fashionable dining rooms of 19th-century Europe it seems unlikely that the warring tribes had much time for making condiments to serve with their stringy supper.

These days, it's usually served with fish indeed, chef Trish Hilferty describes it as "the ultimate partner for fish and chips", its salty sour flavours proving the perfect foil for the greasiness of battered haddock and fried potatoes. But I usually pass on a sachet in my local chip shop at once cloyingly sweet and unpleasantly vinegary, it's only worth it in places that actually make their own version, which is probably why Nigel Slater worries that it's "in danger of going the way of true salad cream". All the more reason to make it at home.

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Better Broccoli Salad [Paleo, Egg-Free, Sugar-Free]

Food Renegade - Thu, 06/19/2014 - 01:15
Are you familiar with that broccoli salad you find at so many pot luck dinners? It's sweet and tangy and rich and crunchy and everything you could ever want in a broccoli salad. Plus, there's bacon, which means I might call it lunch. But when I finally got my hands on the recipe it called for gobs of soy oil mayo and tons of sugar. I'm not anti-sweetener, but it seems like a crime against humanity to do that to broccoli... and bacon. So, I came up with something different... something, I think, better.

Why the new restaurant booking apps leave me with serious reservations

Guardian Food Blog - Tue, 06/17/2014 - 12:49
New services such as Resy and Shout charge customers for prime dining slots before they have even picked up a menu

So far this year, I have heroically failed to get reservations for dinner at Sushi Tetsu, Chiltern Firehouse, Bocca di Lupo and several more of London's most sought-after restaurants. When in New York, I attempted to get a seat at Sushi Nakazawa they neither returned my calls nor answered my emails. (At the time, I imagined them sniggering as the next impassioned plea came in.) Even so, the idea of paying to secure an "impossible" restaurant booking is absolute anathema to me. But a new breed of app is offering us the opportunity to do just that.

With the behemoth of the reservations sites, OpenTable, the restaurants pay for the reservation service themselves. But for the would-be hot ticket-scorer, it's worse than useless. I have long suspected that some of the more savvy operators manipulate availability in any case I have seen the hallowed 7-9pm spots appear to be booked out for weeks in advance only to finally turn up to a room that's far from full. Which is why I, in true Luddite fashion, usually use the phone. But these next-generation apps the likes of Resy and queue-jumping Shout are causing real heat in the US aren't charging the restaurants, they are charging us, the diners.

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For the love of lard: why fat is back on the menu

Guardian Food Blog - Mon, 06/16/2014 - 11:02
Lard is being smeared on sourdough, draped over scallops and boiled up for triple-cooked chips and it might even be good for us. Are you a fan of pig fat?

You've got to love food fashion. Just an arrhythmic heartbeat ago, or so it seems, lard was the artery-clogging work of the devil. These days, if you're not scoffing whipped fat on sourdough, you're just not keeping up.

I realise that not all of us are lauding lard, but there's no denying it's having a "moment". Across the land, lard aka solidified pig fat is being draped over seafood, smeared on toast, flung on pizza and boiled up for triple-cooked chips.

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Sage Restaurant – 12 Mile Ethos

Darinas Saturday Letter - Sat, 06/14/2014 - 13:26

For our May Slow Food East Cork event we returned to Sage Restaurant in Midleton to celebrate the local food of East Cork. Where better to choose than Kevin and Réidín Aherne’s restaurant which over just a few short years has become known for its 12 Mile Ethos..

Kevin has carefully created close links with local producers and their photographs take pride of place on the walls of the restaurant. The menu reflected their produce and 7 or 8 joined us for dinner and spoke about their enterprises.


Organic farmers Dan and Anne Aherne from Ballysimon who produce beef, chickens and eggs. James Stafford from Roche’s Point whose longhorn beef provided the main course for the Slow Food dinner. Local butcher Frank Murphy whom so many of us depend on to slaughter our heritage meat breeds.


Retired Derek Taylor, telephone – 087 232 9554 who grows organic vegetables and herbs in quite a small way also near Roches Point in East Cork.
Derek Hannon from Greenfield Farm who grows radishes and salad leaves.


Fish Smoker Bill Casey, telephone 086 6611468 who smokes organic salmon in his smokehouse in Shanagarry.
Beekeeper Charlie Terry and his wife Bridie from Cloyne who have produced raw honey for 25 years on their land near Midleton.
Farmhouse cheesemaker Jane Murphy who produces the beautiful range of Ardsallagh goat cheeses on the family farm near Carrigtwohill.
They all spoke beautifully about their life style choice and their product.


Pat Van de Bake from Slow Food Holland joined us and spoke about the vibrant Slow Food Youth Movement in the Netherlands and the growing interest in growing your own food and food issues.
Martin and Noreen Conroy who rear pure bred Saddleback pigs on their small farm near Leamlara and process it all themselves and sell to an increasingly appreciative public at Midleton and Douglas Farmers Markets. Martin and Noreen’s son has now come into the business with them after an apprenticeship with renowned Massimo Spigaroli near Parma in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy – so watch that space.
Note: Tom & Jacinta Clancy, rear free-range chickens and turkeys in their farm overlooking the sea in Ballycotton – they too have a loyal following. Look out for them at Mahon Point on Thursdays and Douglas Farmers Market on Saturdays.


Kevin was recently awarded the Best Chef in Cork accolade from the Restaurant Association of Ireland.
Kevin’s mission statement “Our menu is based on our 12 mile ethos. We endeavour to create dishes showcasing what is produced, reared or grown within a 12 mile radius of the restaurant”

Slow Food Producer’s Dinner Menu
8th May, 2014
The menu included

12 Mile Sharing Board

Scottish Highland Plate Sirloin, Neck, Rib and Shin

Rhubarb, Jelly, Meringue & Jersey Cream Ice Cream

How fortunate is he to have so many excellent food producers close by and how fortunate are they to have this young talented chef to support them and champion their cause – others please follow.
The hedgerows are brimming with elderflower blossoms and the tart green gooseberries are ready to pick, a marriage made in heaven so here are a few suggestions to use the early summer bounty.

Elderflower Champagne

This magical recipe transforms perfectly ordinary ingredients into a delicious sparkling drink. The children make it religiously every year and then share the bubbly with their friends.

2 heads of elderflowers
560g (11/4lb) sugar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4.5L (8pints) water
1 lemon

Remove the peel from the lemon with a swivel top peeler. Pick the elderflowers in full bloom. Put into a bowl with the lemon peel, lemon juice, sugar, vinegar and cold water. Leave for 24 hours, then strain into strong screw top bottles. Lay them on their sides in a cool place. After 2 weeks it should be sparkling and ready to drink. Despite the sparkle this drink is non-alcoholic.
Top Tip:
The bottles need to be strong and well sealed, otherwise the Elderflower champagne will pop its cork.

Claire Ptak’s Elderflower Cupcakes

Makes 12

125g (4 1/2oz/generous 1 stick) butter, very soft
200g (7oz/scant 1 cup) caster sugar
3 organic, free-range eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
275g (9oz/generous 2 cups) self-raising flour
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) lemon zest
75ml (3fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) lemon juice
75ml (3fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) milk

190g (6 1/2oz/generous 1 3/4 sticks) soft butter
800-1.2kg (1lb 10oz – 2lb 12oz/5 – 9 cups) icing sugar
2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) milk
75ml (3fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) elderflower cordial
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 muffin tray lined with 12 muffin cases.

Preheat the oven to 160°C325°F/Gas Mark 3.

Cream the very soft butter and sugar until almost white and fluffy. Add the eggs and salt and mix until fully incorporated. Add half the flour until just combined.
Add the zest, juice and milk and mix until combined. Finally add the remaining flour.
Scoop into paper lined muffin tins. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes.
Remove from the tin and set on a wire rack to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the icing.

To make the icing.
Cream the soft butter on a low speed in a Kenwood using a k beater, add some sugar and gradually add the milk, elderflower cordial and lemon juice. Then add the remaining sugar. The speed must be kept slow so as to not incorporate too much air into the buttercream.
Beat for about 3 minutes to get to the proper texture and to allow the sugar to dissolve. If necessary add more icing sugar if needed. This varies with the air temperature and the acidity of the juices, etc. Ice each cup cake and decorate with a few elderflower if available.

Note: omit the salt if using salted butter.


 Elderflower Fritters

These are very easy to make, very crispy and once you’ve tasted one, you won’t be able to stop! Serve them with the Gooseberry and Elderflower Compote, below. Serves 4

110g (4oz/1 cup) plain flour
pinch of salt
1 organic egg
150ml (5fl oz/generous 1/2 cup) lukewarm water
8–12 elderflower heads
caster sugar
sunflower oil for frying

Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and drop in the egg. Using a whisk, bring in the flour gradually from the edges, slowly adding in the water at the same time. Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer to 180°C/350°F. Hold the flowers by the stalks and dip into the batter (add a little more water or milk if the batter is too thick). Fry until golden brown in the hot oil. Drain on kitchen paper, toss in caster sugar and serve immediately with gooseberry and elderflower compote.


Green Gooseberry and Elderflower Compote

When the elderflowers come into bloom, then I know it’s time to pick green gooseberries. They feel as hard as hailstones, but for cooking it’s the perfect time. Enlist the help of little ones to top and tail the elderflowers.

900g (2lb) green gooseberries
2 or 3 elderflower heads
600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) cold water
450g (1lb/2 cups) sugar

First, top and tail the gooseberries.

Tie the elderflower heads in a little square of muslin, put the bag in a stainless-steel or enameled saucepan, add the sugar and cover with cold water. Bring slowly to the
boil and continue to boil for 2 minutes. Add the gooseberries and simmer just until the fruit bursts. Allow to get cold.

Serve in a pretty bowl and decorate with fresh elderflowers.



Hot Tips
Another exciting date for your diary. A once off opportunity to hear Craig Sams of Carbon Gold speak about the importance of biochar as a soil improver and its importance to the environment and the many opportunities it creates for farmers and food producers. Thursday June 19th at 7pm at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. Tel: 021 4646785 or email . See the link and website


Take a break – Drop in to Afternoon Tea at Harvey Nichols in Dublin on Tuesday June 17th 3.30-5.30pm. Darina Allen will host Afternoon Tea at Itsa showcasing some of her delicious recipes from 30 years at Ballymaloe Cookery School followed by a book signing. Tickets €45 – please email to book tickets.


Just heard about a great little place to eat on the end of the Beara Peninsula. Rhonwen Lowes has opened a Bistro in Eyeries serving local artisan foods and freshly made breads. The rosemary bread and three hummous dips are a great success and the buffalo burger from the local buffalo herd is also a winner. Check it out – or tel: 027 74884.
Where do I get green gooseberries? The English Market in Cork or Rose Cottage Fruit Farm in Co Laois – they have a stall at the Midleton and Mahon Farmers Market. While you are there look out for beautiful fresh lobsters wrapped in seaweed from Michael Barrett 086 6000438, depending on the weather.

Categories: Darinas Blog

Gin tasting: Blackwoods Vintage Dry Gin

Gin and Crumpets - Sat, 06/14/2014 - 13:21

Did you forget to send your World Gin Day cards?

It’s World Gin Day, a magical 24 hours when juniper-sniffing, booze-sodden dipsomaniacs can gather together to laugh, hug and weep out their affection for all things gin. I plan to spend the day in a bathtub of gin, [...]

Categories: Past Student Blogs

Crail Food Festival 2014 14-15 June

Lonely on a Sunday - Sat, 06/14/2014 - 10:17

This weekend sees the 4th Crail Food Festival take place in the East Neuk of Fife and this year looks to be bigger and better than ever before. Across the two days highlights include special Children’s Workshops, Food Trail and The House of Sugar playing host to a Crail inspired 3D cookie art installation created by local company Sucre Coeur.

Over 50 local foodie participants are taking part with a special Tasting Theatre and Food Market with food samples to try all day. Local food and drink on offer will include cheese, venison, smoked fish, gin, and craft ales. One of the local producers taking part are Ceres' Chillilicious. Read my article about them on the Crail Food Festival website from earlier this year here

There will also be Meet the Producer workshops ranging from whisky and chocolate matching to cheese and wine pairing and a Cookery Theatre featuring demonstrations by a range of local cooks and chefs using seasonal produce.

The Crail Museum will use the festival as an opportunity to tell visitors about the historic local delicacy, the Crail Capon, a haddock smoked traditionally in a chimney. It's fascinating to learn more about these old histories and traditions, and I for one will be stopping by the museum to find out more. 

On Sunday Crail's picturesque harbour will play host to Sunday Lunch with street food vendors and local producers offering a cornucopia of fabulous local food. Shellfish from the sparkling waters off the East Neuk, traditional smokies, real ice cream, potted shrimp and home baking will all be available to enjoy.

Read my blog post from last year's festival here. I'll be heading up on Sunday to take some pictures, eat lobster and generally get involved. Let's hope it's a sunny day!!
Categories: Past Student Blogs

Chocolate and Beer - Made For Each Other

Lonely on a Sunday - Fri, 06/13/2014 - 08:06

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend a new Beer and Chocolate tasting at the Eden Brewery in St Andrews, makers of specialist craft beers and one of the participants in this year's Crail Food Festival taking place this weekend. The brewery started in 2012 on the site of the old paper mill in Guardbridge, on the banks of the Eden Estuary. They began, as the Eden team put it, on the 'the micro side of micro breweries'. With the rise of craft ales new, independent breweries have been springing up across Scotland over the last few years and Eden are one of the new breed creating beer on their own terms.

The Beer and Chocolate tasting event is, along with brewery tours, market stalls and other tastings is one of the ways Eden Brewery are engaging with customers to make them more aware of the variety and versatility of beer. For these events they've teamed up with Hello Chocolate!, an artisan chocolatier based in Dunfermline to show how the flavours of both beer and chocolate go hand in hand.

TraditionOn arrival we learned a little about the history of the site. In the 19th century there was a distillery there owned by the Haig family. They moved the distillery in 1860 and turned the site into a brewery and paper mill, but the brewery closed in 1882. The area had a long history of breweries and distilleries and in the 18th century there were 91 breweries in the parish of St Andrews. However from 1902 till Eden began in 2012 that number was zero; the rise of industrial production methods meant small scale breweries were no longer viable and their traditions, flavours and diversity were lost.

The Process Then we looked at the brewing process. Making beer requires four key ingredients, malt (from barley), hops, yeast and water. The malt brings colour, sugar, sweetness, while the hops bring aroma and flavour, bitterness to offset the sweetness of the malt. Eden get their hops from Kent and Australia, and give their beer plenty of time to brew. They're keen on a random approach with 25 varieties and growing, with the focus firmly on creating beer with amazing flavours and character, from hoppy blonde ales to a toasty porter made with brown malt. Their wood cask conditioned ales use old rum, bourbon and whisky barrels to create intense flavours. The barrels are used only once, then recycled into furniture such as bar stools. The breadth and scope of flavours, taste and effect on the palette are every bit as complex and fascinating as wine or whisky.

Chocolate Gill from Hello Chocolate! Took us through the process of transforming chocolate from the cocoa pod, bean, and nib to the cocoa solids and cocoa butter which then magically realign to make chocolate. We tasted a few pieces of 100% cocoa solids, bitter and intense, and 100% cocoa butter which melted in the plam of our hands to soften the skin! Dark, milk and white chocolates all contain different levels of cocoa solids, butter, milk, sugar and vanilla which Hello Chocolate! uses to create its artisan range. From their Dunfermline base Hello Chocolate! are now supplying chocolates for Gleneagles and the Balmoral Hotel , and can be bought online and at specialist suppliers.

Pairing Notes The beers and chocolates were paired up, starting with the 'Oak Wood Series Highland Whisky' and the 'Cinnamon Tea cake'. The idea is that you take a sip of beer, taste it, then a bite of chocolate and then beer again, to see how the chocolate changes and brings out different flavours in the beer. The vanilla, spice and citrus in this hoppy beer were enhanced, yet any bitterness softened by the sweetness of the chocolate, a white chocolate ganache with cinnamon, citrus peel and ginger.

The 'St Andrews Blonde' was paired with the 'JFK Strawberry Daiquiri' a cute heart shaped chocolate topped with red glitter. The beer is zesty and light, one of Eden's first award-winning beers. The strawberry and rum in the chocolate worked with the fruitness of the beer to make this combination (too!) easy to enjoy.

Next up was the 'Oakwood Series Bourbon Barrel' and the 'Sticky Toffee Pudding' chocolate. This beer is conditioned in bourbon casks for 60 days and at the stronger end of the scale at 6.5%abv. Rich and smooth, both combine notes of chocolate, caramel, toffee and vanilla. The effect on the tongue is indulgent, warm and relaxing.

Lastly we sampled the 'Islay Oak Aged' and the 'Salted Caramel Picasso'. Another cask-conditioned ale, this time using whisky barrels from Islay. It's a strong peaty flavour due to the beer spending three months in the barrels to get a really intense, almost medicinal aroma and taste. Smoky and tobacco-like, the flavour of the beer is cut through by the salt and softened by the sweetness of the caramel.

It's an interesting and unusual concept, but one which could very well catch on, following similar beer and wine tastings which are now commonplace. After all, what's not to like, chocolate and beer combined! The Eden Brewery hopes to run the tastings twice a month for visitors to the brewery. As well as continuing and experimenting with their range of beers, this summer also sees the founding of a whisky and gin distillery on the site, continuing the proud history of brewing and distilling in this part of the world.

Eden Brewery will for the first time be taking part in this weekend's Crail Food Festival, with a stall at the Crail Community Hall and tastings with Acanthus Pies. Find all the details here.

Categories: Past Student Blogs

Fight Back Friday June 13th

Food Renegade - Fri, 06/13/2014 - 04:39

Welcome to another Fight Back Friday! Today we are bringing together another collection of recipes, tips, anecdotes, and testimonies from members of the Real Food Revolution.

Who are they? Why, they’re the Food Renegades. You know who you are — lovers of SOLE (Sustainable, Organic, Local, and Ethical) food, traditional food, primal food, REAL food, the list goes on. I believe that by joining together, our influence can grow, and we can change the way America (and the industrialized world) eats!

So, let’s have some fun.

If you want to participate but aren’t sure how, please read these guidelines for how Fight Back Fridays will work.

Please be courteous and use your BEST blog carnival manners! In the very least, that means remember the two most important things you can do:

  1. Share a relevant post from your blog with us using the McLinky Widget below (don’t just link to your blog’s home page).
  2. In your post, be sure to link back to this post (not the Food Renegade home page) so that your readers can have access to all the information and encouragement we’ll be sharing.

Please also feel free to make use of any of the banners below by saving the image to your desktop then uploading it to your own server. (You don’t have to use them, but they’re there for you!)

If you don’t have a blog but are interested in joining the conversation, you can leave your comments below!

I can’t wait to see what you all share!

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How to eat: a cream tea

Guardian Food Blog - Thu, 06/12/2014 - 10:42
Put the kettle on How to Eat comes bearing scones. This month, we are considering the cream tea. Is it jam or cream first? Clotted or whipped cream, strawberry or raspberry jam? Are fruit scones ever acceptable? And do we really need to eat it off vintage crockery?

Devon! Cornwall! Britain's baking partisans! The time has come to take up arms (teaspoon, butter knife), in order to defend one of these islands' most sacred rites, the cream tea. Yes, How to Eat the Word of Mouth blog dictatorially defining the best way to eat the nation's favourite dishes is, this month, considering clotted cream, the correct jam and the vapid nostalgia of vintage crockery. Given that we can't even agree on how to pronounce its main component (it is scone-rhymes-with-cone, of course), this one could go the distance. No sleep 'til Truro.

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Nutty Monkey “Ice Cream” (Dairy-Free, Paleo)

Food Renegade - Thu, 06/12/2014 - 04:09

Now that the weather is getting warmer and the dessert treats are getting a little cooler, boy do I have a cool treat for you! Can I tell you how tasty my Nutty Monkey “Ice Cream” recipe is? It’s only made with 3 ingredients – and it’s dairy-free! How is this possible? With a little bit of creativity I tell you.

Instead of a typical ice cream base, this creamy treat is made with frozen bananas blended up in a food processor. I elevated that creaminess with a hit of chocolate chips and diced raw almonds – that is where the Nutty Monkey comes in. Kids and those kids-at-heart will love this and any other who desires a delectable, cool treat on a hot summer evening!

Nutty Monkey “Ice Cream” (Dairy-Free)

The Players

The How-To

1. In a food processor, add your frozen bananas. Process until it turns in a smooth, soft-serve type texture (takes about 1 to 2 minutes).

2. Mix in diced almonds and chocolate chips, and sprinkle some on top as a garnish.

3. Enjoy!

**Note: If you would like a firmer “ice cream”, after you prep the bananas and mix-ins – place into a freezer safe container and put into the freezer for another 1 to 2 hours.

(makes 2 to 3 servings)

How to make the perfect lemon meringue pie

Guardian Food Blog - Wed, 06/11/2014 - 12:00
Is lemon meringue pie an ostentatious delight deserving of modernisation, or a retro dessert best left in the past? And which other dated desserts deserve a revival?

If any dish could be described as blowsy, it's the lemon meringue pie; that overblown Dolly of desserts, all sweet bouffant meringue above a core acid enough to put young Jolene right off her game. There's something joyously vulgar about its showy charms, and its brief but brilliant flowering it won't keep long enough to reward moderation, so gorge yourself before it's gone. Because of this, and because it seems to be something of an endangered species on menus these days (right up there with black forest gateau and île flottante), the LMP is a recipe well worth mastering. After all, who knows when you might be called upon to soothe a broken heart with such sugared succor?

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Sour milk & lemon cake

Gin and Crumpets - Wed, 06/11/2014 - 04:10

Behold, here's cake

The milk keeps going off in my fridge. I could blame the fridge. Suggest it has a faulty dial that makes it run warm, or a loose seal that means the door quietly pops open in the middle of the night. Maybe it has ambitions to be [...]

Categories: Past Student Blogs


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