Tag Archives: summer

It’s time to take the blanket off

My family get a great kick out of teasing me about my horses’ blankets.  As we drive through the countryside at whatever time of the year, I’ll always be heard muttering ….Look, freezing cold- and no blanket on...

Jessie in his fetching "light" coat

Jessie in his fetching “light” coat

I had brought down Missy’s light coat to put on her, but we had a disagreement on whether she should come in from the field or not, so it’s there for tomorrow.

"Summer" Wear

“Summer” Wear

And it got me thinking.  Removing a blanket of security is a difficult act.  As I am just about to head into a new world of cookery- albeit slowly, I feel a little like I am in a field with no blanket.  So to speak.  And  I know I need to trust my instincts, and that it’s ok to make mistakes.

But it’s still scary, and I’m not the jump first – think later kind of girl.

But if you do want to take a chance and take on of my cookery demos, register your interest here.


Tomatoes. Grow quicker. Please.

If there was any downside to doing the Ballymaloe Course in January it would be that you want to try so many of the recipes, but can’t, as the ingredients required are just not in season.  So it goes with tomatoes.

I want to make passata, Rory O’Connells tomato sauce, fresh tomato soup, tomato salad with basil.  So many choices.  But I suppose we are lucky to be able to substitute tinned tomatoes for many of those dishes.  And tinned tomatoes do come with a positive.  No peeling.  And I am sure when faced with peeling 3kg of tomatoes I will look at my tinned tomatoes longingly, but only for a moment.

Tuesday 21 April 2015 008

And I’m also looking forward to freezing our tomatoes to use for the following year.

Patience.  Patience I suppose.

What other foods am I looking forward to coming into season.  Gooseberries. Yum.  Broadbeans.  Yummier, and even better they are flowering at the moment in the tunnel so will be ready soon.  I must perfect my sourdough baguettes before they are ready, as I think bruschetta will be on the menu regularly.

Tomatoes planted.

Tomatoes planted.

Robert was planting the peas last week, but they rarely make it into the pot once grown, most are either eaten at the vegetable patch or some lucky ones make it into a salad.  Frozen peas are used to make pea soup, for a number of reasons.  Firstly,  frozen peas are of excellent quality, and secondly, you need such large quantities for soup etc, that you would be podding for days to get sufficient amounts.

Manure being dug into the greenhouse soil

Manure being dug into the greenhouse soil

French beans are also of quite good quality when frozen, and tend to keep their shape and texture quite well.  We do freeze our own every year also, and blanch and freeze them into dinner portion sizes.  This is handy as they all seem to be ready on the vines at the same time.

Strawberries also come in a “glut”, and really need to be picked when ready, they seem to attract slugs and other creatures when ripe.  And a simple shower of rain can turn ripe fruit quickly into mush.  But there is never any hardship in using up strawberries, there are always wiling mouths, and numerous recipes to re-visit.

But for now.  Patience.

Perfect Summer Dinner with Cono Sur Wine

My goal when cooking, like Cono Sur, is to make incredible and inspiring meals.  Although I am not sourcing my ingredients in South America, we are very lucky to live on the family farm where my father in-law grows all our own vegetables.  So the first thing I do when starting the dinner preparation is dig and pick the veg.  We are very lucky here in the south east to have a mostly temperate climate which means our growing season is long and fruitful.  Like Cono Sur, our commitment when growing our produce is to think green.  Our horses provide manure, and our waste goes to feed the chickens and deer also living with us on the farm.


Fresh Vegetables from the garden

Fresh Vegetables from the garden

Next marinade the butterflied lamb in an enormous amount of garlic and herbs.  I get my lamb from our local supplier direct, it’s Comeragh Lamb, which I think gives a full flavour that stands up to the strong marinade well.


Butterflied leg of lamb after two days in the marinade

Butterflied leg of lamb after two days in the marinade

Bake the freshly dug and washed spuds,  adding the lamb to the hot oven for about an hour, adding a dash of olive oil.

Scrub and slice the beetroot into a oven dish lined with tinfoil, add a head of peeled garlic and lots of olive oil, salt & pepper.  Wrap the parcel up tight and place in the oven alongside the potatoes and lamb.  This also needs about an hour, add a splash of balsamic vinegar half way through cooking

Leave both to rest while preparing the salads.

Chill the Cono Sur Sauvignon wine to the perfect temperature.

Slice the lamb, drizzle with the fresh pesto.  Add the fluffy baked potato, the beans, beetroot and serve with the tomato and lettuce salads.

The Perfect Summer Dinner

The Perfect Summer Dinner

My Strawberry Cake- Summer is coming.. isn’t it??

I love strawberries, they’re a sure sign for me that soon I’ll be eating lots of fruit (with cream obviously) and salads and beans and peas… I could go on and on.  I wanted to make a cake for a group of friends this evening that would keep for the day, and still be soft and inviting tonight and easy to cut.  I struggle sometimes to find an appealing recipe that DOESN’T contain chocolate.  This one definitely fits the bill.  This recipe is based on Lisa Faulkner’s Fantasy Cake.

Summer is starting today!

Summer is starting today!

175g soft butter,

150g caster sugar

150g plain flour, sifted

1 1/5 tsps baking powder

2 eggs

3 tablespoons milk

100g ground almonds

1 teaspoon almond essence

200g strawberries,  quartered depending on size,

75g  raspberries

icing sugar, for dusting


1 Heat the oven to 160oC, grease and line a 23 cm loose-bottomed cake tin.

2 Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Then add in the flour, baking powder, eggs, milk, ground almonds and almond essence and mix well. Stir in 75% of the fruit.

3 Pour the mixture into the cake tin and put the remaining handful of fruit on top of the cake.

4 Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hours. Test with a skewer.

5 Leave the cake in the tin on a wire rack to cool and dust with icing sugar before serving.

6 Lovely served with a cup of tea on a sunny day, or just a cup of tea.