Here are some delicious dishes Darina's students made at the Ballymaloe Cookery School

HERE at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, we run three-month certificate courses every year for students who want to gain the skills to earn them a living from their cooking. 

They come from all over the world and knuckle down for 12 weeks to learn as much as they possibly can about how food is produced and where it comes from and how to cook it simply so there’s a ‘wow’ factor on each plate.

Apart from all that, many are united with a passion to contribute to society. 

A few weeks ago we met Suze Gibson who has volunteered for six months with Seva Mandir, an inspirational NGO based in Udaipur in India which works with tribes in remote villages in Rajasthan.

Others link with charities closer to home.

Recently a group of Ballymaloe Cookery School students came together to do a pop-up dinner at the school to raise money for the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project which teaches children in nine schools how to grow and cook. 

It was a terrific event. The students liaised with several of our senior tutors. They chose the theme and designed the poster and the menu.

The starter was Ardsallagh goat cheese with beetroot and preserved lemon dressing. 

Everything was done from scratch so the students grew the pea shoots in seed trays, picked the wild garlic flowers and made the carrot jelly that decorated the plate from freshly juiced carrots. 

Others made the natural sourdough bread and ciabatta , a three-day process. 

Not content with that, the Jersey butter was also home-made, shaped into candles and served along with Ballymaloe match-boxes full of sea salt.

The main course of lamb breast with gremolata stuffing was slowly braised. 

The meat was then shredded, seasoned and mixed with herbs and spices to make delicious little lamb rissole. 

This was served with a pearl barley, celeriac purée, purple sprouting broccoli and a gratin of potatoes.

The students picked the organic leaves for the green salad. 

The dessert was new seasons’ rhubarb compote with cardamom and vanilla ricotta served with an almond and ginger tuile.

Some of the beautiful tender ricotta was homemade from the Jersey whey from our tiny herd, but most came from Macroom Cheese.

There was a competition for the petit fours at the end – tiny lavender cup cakes with a secret filling, chocolate truffles with a fresh raspberry inside and sugar coated choux puffs

How could one choose? 

Guests enjoyed those with a cup of coffee. 

Oh, and I almost forgot the aperitifs, a rhubarb and strawberry cocktail to sip with anchovy straws, home-grown radishes on a crostini with olive butter and last but not least, homemade cheese crackers with flakes of warm-smoked cod with horseradish aioli.

The gardeners provided the music and another of the students played the guitar. 

They learned how to organise an event down to the last detail including creating the recipes and sourcing the food. 

The theme was masquerade so many of the guests arrived in masks and students who didn’t have a mask made their own from foraged leaves and feathers and decorated the dining room to the carnival theme.

If you wish you’d been there, contact us at and we’ll let you know the dates of the next event. 

Meanwhile, here are some of the delicious dishes.

Beetroot in Preserved Lemon Dressing, Ardsallagh Goat Cheese Mousse, and Pea Shoot with a Spiced Carrot Jelly

Serves 4

Here are some delicious dishes Darina's students made at the Ballymaloe Cookery School

250 g fresh beetroot

100 g goat cheese

1 tablespoon cream

Fresh pea shoots

Preserved Lemon Dressing

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

A good pinch of salt

½ preserved lemon, seeds removed and rind finely chopped

Spiced Carrot Jelly, optional

4 sheets gelatine

Carrot juice

Wild garlic flowers

Day before – make the spiced carrot jelly.

Cover the beetroot in cold water and cook the beets until tender, depending on size, 40 minutes to 1½ hours. 

The beets are cooked when the skin rubs off easily.

Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing together. 

Add the diced preserved lemon.

Once tender, peel beetroots and cut into bit- size wedges. 

Toss in dressing while still warm.

Whisk the goat cheese and cream together lightly.

To serve. 

Put three wedges of beetroot and three teaspoon-size quenelles of goat cheese on each plate. 

Top with a bunch of freshly harvested peashoots and add five, ½ cm (¼ inch) of carrot jelly around the edge of the plate. 

Garnish with wild garlic flowers.

Lamb Breast with Gremolata, Celeriac Puree and Pearl Barley Risotto

Serves 8

2 lamb breasts

Salt and pepper

Here are some delicious dishes Darina's students made at the Ballymaloe Cookery School

Gremolata Stuffing

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

½ onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 lemon, zest and juice

Handful of parsley, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

Pearl Barley Risotto

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

½ onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

240 g pearl barely

1 litre hot chicken stock

Handful of parsley, finely chopped

Wild Garlic Salsa Verde

50g wild garlic leaves, chopped

2 anchovy fillets, chopped

15 g flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 tsp white wine vinegar

¼ tsp Dijon mustard

Olive oil, to loosen

Salt and pepper


1 pint chicken stock

¼ tsp Dijon mustard


Salt and pepper


Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Preheat the oven to 160C/300F/gas mark 2.

Season lamb breasts generously with salt and freshly ground pepper. Lay skin side up on an oven tray. 

Roast for 20 minutes and reduce to 120C/250F/mark 2 for 1½ hours by which time lamb will be tender and much of the fat will have rendered out. 

Pour all the juices and fat into a pyrex bowl, save and chill. Meanwhile make the gremolata stuffing. 

Heat 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan and sweat the diced onion and crushed garlic until soft but not coloured, 5-6 minutes.

Add the white breadcrumbs, chopped parsley lemon zest and juice. 

Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. 

Cool, shape into two 1-inch rolls and wrap in cling film, twist the ends. Freeze.

When the lamb is cooked remove the tough outer skin and bones. 

Shred the tender meat with the forks, chop finely on a timber board. 

Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Lay a sheet of clingfilm on the worktop, spread the seasoned lamb evenly into a rectangle – a generous ½ inch thick.

Lay the rolls of frozen gremolata down the middle and then use the clingfilm to help wrap the lamb securely around the gremolata. 

Twist the ends tightly. Refrigerate overnight or even 2 days ahead.

On the day make the pearl barley risotto. 

In a hot frying pan, toast the pearl barley, tossing regularly over a high heat for 2-3 minutes.

Heat two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan, add diced onion and carrot. 

Sweat for 4-5 minutes over a low heat. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. 

Add toasted pearl barley and toss to coat each grain, stirring all the time. 

Slowly add hot chicken stock a ladle fill at a time stirring regularly until it’s cooked – approximately 40 minutes. 

Taste, correct seasoning and stir in lots of chopped parsley.

Next make celeriac puree and wild garlic salsa verde.

To make the wild garlic salsa verde:

Whizz all the ingredients except the oil in a food processor. 

Add oil as if for pesto to loosen. Taste and correct seasoning.

Next make gravy. 

Lift off the layer of fat. 

Put the lamb juices into a saucepan, add 1 pint of chicken stock and ½ teaspoon of Dijon mustard. 

Bring to a boil. Whisk in a tiny bit of roux. 

Taste and correct seasoning.

Preheat oven to 160C. 

Remove lamb from fridge and unwrap. 

Cut the roll into 1 inch sheets. 

Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. 

Put in the preheated oven for 20 minutes until heated through. Spoon a little of the gravy over the top.

To plate:

Cook the purple sprouting broccoli in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes. Drain.

Put a dollop of celeriac puree onto each hot plate. 

Smear with a spoon, a generous portion of hot pearl barely risotto at a right angle. 

Pop two lamb breast rissoles down the side. 

Lay a few pieces of purple sprouting broccoli on top. 

Garnish with wild garlic flowers and put a few dots of salsa verde along the side.

Celeriac and Potato Puree

Great with game, turkey, chicken, duck or guinea fowl.

Serves 8-10

2 large celeriac, 700g (1½lb) approx.

225g (8oz) potatoes

110-170g (4-6oz) butter

2 fl oz (50 ml) cream

parsley, chervil,

salt and freshly ground pepper

lemon juice to taste

Quarter, peel and cut the celeriac into 2.5cm (1inch) cubes. 

Cook in boiling salted water for 15 minutes approx or until tender, drain well,

Meanwhile, scrub and boil the potatoes. 

Peel and put into a food processor together with the celeriac. 

Add the butter, chopped herbs and cream. 

Season with salt and freshlly ground pepper. 

Taste and add a few drops of lemon juice if necessary.

Radish Crostini with Black Olive Butter

Makes 40 canapé

40 tiny crostini, cut from a skinny baguette

16-20 radishes, depending on size

Olive Butter

4 ozs (110 g) butter

3 ozs (75 g) (1 oz when stoned) Kalamata olives, stoned and finely chopped

Fresh ground pepper



Flaky sea salt

First make the olive butter. 

Cream the butter, add the finely chopped kalamata olives. 

Just before serving crisp the thinly sliced bread in the oven. 

Spread the olive butter over each. 

Top with two slices of crisp radish. 

Garnish each with a sprig of chervil and a flake of sea salt.


Have you a block about making your own pastry? Many seem to have a ‘block’ about making pastry but it’s not difficult. 

On April 18, for two-and-a- half days, we will unlock the mystery and teach a few simple recipes.

We will focus on the classic techniques of shortcrust pastry (both sweet and savoury), choux, hot water crust and the dreaded puff. for the details

Are spices a mystery? Fresh spices add magic to your cooking. Cumin, coriander, cardamom, fenugreek, star anise, cinnamon, mustard seeds, turmeric, cloves… we adore them all. 

Learn how to combine spices to introduce the flavours of Thailand, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, Mexico and Morocco.

This course will take the mystery out of spices and change your cooking forevermore.

The course begins on April 20. 

Paul and Georgie Keane’s Inishbeg organic lamb is available at Walsh Butchers on Bridge Street, Skibbereen, in West Cork, 028 21201.


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