Posts Tagged ‘darina allen’

How have you been doing with your soft fruit this year?  Ours seem to have all come in a bit of a rush…. here for a few days and then gone.

We had so few strawberries this year (again).  We had a great crop of raspberries as always but battled with the birds to have them.  Both our gooseberry bushes were stripped overnight of fruit by the birds, 3 of our 4 blackcurrant bushes were also stripped bare!  So I guess I was lucky to get my 2 lbs of fruit to make our homemade ribena.

I’m not a big fan of blackcurrant jam – although I do make a mixed berry jam with a mix of red and black currants which is nice.  So over the past few years I’ve tended to use the bulk of our blackcurrants to make this cordial.  This also makes me ‘the best aunty in the world’ as my nieces love this when they come to visit 🙂

Blackcurrant Cordial

Blackcurrant Cordial

The original recipe I used for this is from Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course with a little adaptation, as per usual I didn’t have all the ‘right’ ingredients.


  • 2 lbs blackcurrants
  • 2 lbs sugar
  • 6 pints water
  • 6 fl. oz. red wine vinegar (white wine vinegar was in the original recipe)


And this is the best part of the whole thing…. you don’t have to top and tail the fruit!  Is there anyone in the world who likes topping and tailing blackcurrants?  It has to be the most fiddly job of all.

Just put your blackcurrants into a large pot, add the water – bring to the boil, and allow to boil for 15 minutes.

Strain your liquid into a clean saucepan and add the sugar and wine vinegar.  Boil for another 3 minutes.

Pour into sterilised bottles and seal.

This amount makes 4 to 5 litres, and we usually lasts us until next year’s harvest.

Serve diluted in iced water or sparkling water.

There are still a few blackcurrants left on the bush…. I think I might try a cassis with those.  What do you do with your soft fruits?

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Last week here in Tipperary was much more about being ‘iced’ in that ‘snowed’ in.  We only got the tiniest snow shower late on Sunday evening last, while the rest of the country had been snow bound for all of the previous week.  Despite the ‘no snow’ bit, the roads about the neighbourhood were awful, the main roads were only slightly better, so it was a good excuse to take on the challenge of trying to clear out the freezer! This was a two pronged attack, not only because we have 2 freezers on the go, but also the plan is for another piggy to go to butcher in the next few weeks, so we need to make room!

Having had a constant flow of visitors over Christmas and New Year (doesn’t that all seem like an eternity away now!), there were lots of bits and pieces of left-overs in the freezer…. so here’s how our menu panned out over the past week.

Monday… we had left over roast chicken from Saturday night, so Farmer Alfie made some of his wheat-free (spelt) pizza bases and the toppings included the left-over roast chicken, and whatever else he could find in the fridge.

Tuesday…. while my sis, Sarah, had been here over Christmas she had made St. Stephen’s Day pie a la Darina Allen and there was still a double portion left in freezer, so no cooking for either of us!

Wednesday…had been looking at Hey Pesto! page, and they mentioned stuffed Butternut Squash a la Nigel Slater… and as I had all the ingredients in I gave it a shot… very nice!  Even Farmer Alfie liked it…. and he’s not too keen on the whole vegetarian angle.

Thursday….tried out the Turkey Con Chili with a nice salsa/gaucamole recipe from Jamie Oliver.  Have to say this was really yummy and will definitely be on the menu again for next year, or even before then.

Turkey Con Chilli

Avocado Salsa

We took a break from left-overs over the weekend, but I am back on a mission this week…. still lots to clear out of the freezer… so last night it was Turkey and Ham Tortillas from a recipe by Domini Kemp in the Irish Times.   Nice but I think could do with a little bit more ‘punch’ to them… may try a dash of my Sweet Chilli Sauce in them next time.

Almost forgot to mention… Farmer Alfie had managed one trip to our friendly market gardener during the week to pick up ‘waste’ vegetables for pigs.  He, of course, couldn’t resist rescuing some vegetables for me!  So I was faced with a pile of peppers and a mountain of chillies, the result was two big jars of roasted peppers and some home-made Sweet Chili Sauce – this is absolutely devine!

Sweet Chili Sauce

Roast Peppers & Sweet Chili Sauce

I also managed to make some Cranberry & Orange Conserve.  Am I the only person in the world who doesn’t like Cranberry?  I thought it was just Cranberry Sauce I didn’t like – no matter who makes it.  But even making the Conserve… I didn’t even like the smell of it cooking!  I tried some of it and no, I still don’t like it.  Farmer Alfie thinks its lovely tho!

Also in between times last week, I made some Lemon Curd which went into a Lemon Meringue Pie for my friend and neighbour, Anne-Marie, who was having the ‘potential’ in-laws over for dinner.  I also made her my newly discovered yummy Chocolate Orange Cake (which is wheat and gluten-free)… another recipe downloaded from Hey Pesto!

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