Tuesday, March 13, 2012


How fortunate are we to have the world at our fingertips as far as food goes. We are certainly spoilt for choice these days.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a small country sea side town, with fresh produce taken for granted. Of course, it helped that not only did I live near a lake, with the mouth of the river and the ocean a short walk away, but my grandparents lived on a farm, as did an uncle. My grandfather kept bee hives, and both grandparents loved gardening, so it was just part of every visit to wander through, nibbling at this or that, picking fresh fruit and vegetables, or wonderful nuts. There was also the family farm that produced the most wonderful tomatoes or watermelons in season.

The whole family cooked... for as my grandmother would say, the only people that needed to cook were those that needed to eat... Her cupboards were laden with jams, preserves, pickles, chutneys and sauces... I have written about some of this at


Favourite recipes were mostly not written down, rather you watched and you learned... a bit of this, a handful of that, a cup of that one, not too much, fold it, stir, feel the weight and the texture, does it look right, does it smell right, taste a little .... all part of the symphony of cooking... and all part of growing up in a large extended family.

Though this was on my father's side of the family, my mother's side all cooked as well.. her sisters, as she could, would whip up a meal out of nothing, fit for a king, or a small princess, who watched in awe. I learnt how to keep scone dough just moist enough, not to knead too much or too little... how to make feather light sponge cakes every time, well, theirs were feather light every time. It took me a while to master that, I'm almost there.

We never left any home without jars of jams or chutneys or preserves, or baskets of baked goods or fresh produce. It was the same when folk left our place. Everyone shared everything... one uncle was a professional fisherman, so we were often given some of his catch. We shared the crabs or oysters or fish that we caught...It never occurred to me that everyone didn't live like this.

I guess this is why I love markets so much, filling our baskets reminds me of days gone by, except now, we pay, not in like, but in coin...

As a result of all this, I love collecting recipes, I love learning what others love, what has been a favourite down through the years.

If you would like to try some fabulous Irish recipes, tried and true, please go to


Please note that you need to scroll down the recipe names on the left side, continue down the page as you just might miss some otherwise.

I would love to receive your favourite recipes, from wherever you are, and would be happy to post them on here if you would like. You can contact me via the address at the bottom of the first item to the left, About me...

Food is for sharing, for caring, and for learning... it is through food that we celebrate, commiserate or just enjoy each other's company.

Just to get you started, what about trying some of these..


A great way to use up excess citrus fruit is to make them into marmalade using this simple microwave method:

Cut up 500g of limes or lemons.

Add one and a half cups of water and microwave on full power for 10 minutes.

Measure out the pulp (it is usually about 750ml).

Now add 250ml sugar for every 250ml of pulp. Stir well, microwave again for 15-18 minutes on full power. This time will depend on your microwave's wattage. I usually test after 15 minutes. To do this, spoon some into a saucer and leave in the freezer for a few minutes, then test to see whether it has gelled enough. If not, microwave for another three minutes. Leave to cool and bottle.

I find that limes or lemons picked before they start falling have a higher pectin content which lets them set sooner.



* 500gr. chopped walnuts ( I prefer half walnuts+ half almonds or peanuts)

* 60 gr. sugar

* 1 teaspoon cinnamon


* 500 gr. filo pastry

* 180 gr. unsalted butter, melted


* 230 gr. caster sugar

* 300 ml water

* 2 cinnamon sticks

* 2 teaspoons lemon juice

* some lemon peel

* 2 tablespoons honey


Mix all the filling ingredients in a bowl.

Liberally butter the base and sides of an elongated or round baking dish. Measure the length of the filo against the baking dish roughly and, allowing 2 cm extra approximately for shrinkage, cut to length with a sharp knife. Brush each layer of filo with melted butter and spread over the base of the container as evenly as possible. Once you have used 5 layers of pastry, sprinkle a thin layer of filling all over the surface and add 3 more layers. Sprinkle a thin layer of filling and place 2 more sheets of filo on top.

Sprinkle on all the remaining filling, spreading it evenly, and cover with 7-8 more layers of filo, brushing individually with butter. Fold any excess pastry on either of the sides over the filling and brush it with butter. Brush the top layer liberally with butter in order to get it crisp and golden. Trim any excess pastry with a small sharp knife, keeping in mind that it will also shrink. Cut the top layers of filo carefully, either diagonally into diamond shapes or straight, which will result in square or elongated pieces. Be careful not to cut right down to the base, but only the top layers. This is done in order to make cutting and lifting the pieces out, once it is cooked, much easier and efficient. Using the tips of four fingers, sprinkle drops of water all over the surface and cook it in a preheated oven, 190 C, for 15 minutes; lower the heat to l80 C and cook for a further 20 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the syrup. Place all the syrup ingredients, apart from the honey, in a saucepan and stir to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for 6-8 minutes, add the honey and simmer for a further 5 minutes until it thickens slightly. Let the baklava cool down then pour the hot but not boiling syrup slowly all over, through a strainer. Let it stand and absorb the syrup.

Try to let cool before eating...



4 oz white bread without crusts,1/2 pint cream,1/2 pint of milk,2 oz unsalted butter, 3 eggs separated,grated zest of one lemon,5 oz caster sugar,4 tablespoons home made jam.


Preheat a moderate 350 degree oven. Generously butter a 2 pint baking dish. Cut up the bread into small cubes or make into coarse crumbs and scatter in to the baking dish. Warm the milk and butter until the butter melts then blend in the beaten egg yolks grated lemon zest and 3 oz of the sugar. Pour this custard over the bread and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until set. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold in the remaining sugar. Remove the pudding from the oven spread with the jam and pile the meringue mixture on top. Return to the oven and cook for another 10 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and crisp. Serve hot with chilled cream..


  1. Thanks for a luscious evocative story..what a wonderful culinary upbringing.

  2. Thanks, Pauleen.. it made me hungry writing it! We took it all for granted, things like picking fresh produce, netting prawns at the mouth of the river and boiling them in a big billy there and then, enjoying them on home made bread... crabs abounded in the lake, as did oysters (yuk!) which my parents loved. I think maybe another article... with so many mouths around, there was always something cooking... and the home made butter... maybe more later. :-)


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