0 comment

Menu for Hope – Just one more day to buy your ticket!

There’s just one more day to buy your ticket for Menu for Hope. Here’s an update from Pim:

We are getting so close to 50K I can smell it! It’s pretty clear now that we will beat our last year’s record before the campaign ends at the end of the week, but by how much, that’s for YOU to decide.

We have so many great prizes on our Menu for Hope this year that some of them haven’t enjoyed as much attention as they deserve. That means, my friends, you’ve got really good odds at getting those wonderful prizes with your $10 raffle ticket.

Have you finished your holiday shopping yet? If you’re running behind, why not consider getting some on your list Menu for Hope raffle tickets instead of a present? They can feel good about helping the hungry, and they might even win something. It’s great all around.

My Europe host Fanny at Foodbeam has put up a list of her favorite prizes on her blog, while Adam over in New York showed you the under-appreciated prizes his East Coast list. Johanna and Jeanne in London also has one. Check them out.

She’s also got some great pictures taken by the kids in Lesotho on her blog. Have a look.

Jeanne from Cook Sister has posted: Want to make almost 100% sure you win something in Menu for Hope?

Take a look for info on prizes with few bids – you’ve a very good chance!

Menu for Hope 4

More on how to buy a raffle ticket and prizes here


Orzo salad with pesto, tomatoes & knockalara cheese

Another day, another gorgeous recipe from the Ballymaloe Cookery Course Cookbook, all in the hope of raising money for the World Food Programme’s efforts in Lesotho. If this is your first time hearing of it, briefly:

Chez Pim has announced Menu for Hope 4 – her annual fundraising event. Inspired by the Tsnuami 5 years ago, in 2006, Menu for Hope raised US$62,925.12 to help the UN World Food Programme feed the hungry. I applaud her for this effort and would like to spread the word by directing you to her blog. This year, she is again supporting the UN World Food Programme.

More on how to buy a raffle ticket and prizes here, for now – back to food.

This cookbook hasn’t failed me yet. This recipe is very simple and quick, perfect for today’s lunch. It’s the litle details that really make it – sprinkling some sugar and balsamic vinegar on the cut tomatoes preserves and enhances their lovely flavour. I love the texture and flavour of orzo, a pasta grain with a delicate bite which absorbs other flavours beautifully. It’s great in salads and soups and makes a nice change when substituted for noodles/pasta in noodle soups or minestrone.

A note on Knockalara cheese – as I’ve mentioned it on the blog before, this is a cheese made local to where I grew up in Cappoquin, Co Waterford. I bought it from their stall in Dungarvan Farmer’s Market (which I promised I’d blog but still haven’t, I will eventually!). There are so many wonderful irish cheeses, I always bring some back with me when I go home, but this for me is particularly good. It’s a sheep’s milk cheese, the one I had was a mature one and had a strong flavour, almost reminiscent of a blue cheese, really very good. If you can’t get Knockalara, substitute another sheep’s cheese like a good feta.

I made a change to the recipe, adding more tomatoes as I had many, so instead of Darina’s 12 I had about 20 – 10 red, 10 yellow. I also cut the cheese smaller as mine was quite strong. I think I will add more pine nuts next time I make it as I like the taste and texture. It would be lovely as a side dish, or as I had it, for lunch with some leaves. Delicious![Read more]


Coconut & apricot snowballs

coconut & apricot snowballs

It’s silly season! Lots of socialising, lots of fun, (over)eating and drinking. I have been trying and failing to save myself for my impending two week break – my office xmas party got the better of me last week, then I had the pleasure of an old friend visiting, which naturally involved lots of eating, partying and late night chattering.

I have withdrawn again in an attempt to gather some energy and tie up some loose ends before I make my journey back to Ireland, but, before I did I called to a friends for her annual xmas drinks last weekend. She had (as always) the most amazing spread. One of the many things that I couldn’t stop eating were these little coconut & apricot snowballs – they were just beautiful. I enquired after the recipe and was shocked at how simple they are, they are so delicious, I thought that there must be some complicated technique behind this, but no, it’s one she has been making since childhood: quick, simple & dare I say it – approaching healthy? They’re also very pretty and festive, like little fruity snowballs, hence I christened them coconut & apricot snowballs.

Thanks to Rachel for the recipe! I’ve brought them into the office today and everyone is most appreciative :)

[Read more]


Onion & Thyme Leaf Soup

The Ballymaloe Cookery Course is a fantastic book containing 1175 recipes, 370 variations and more than 100 basic skills from staple recipes that are quick and easy, to master recipes with twists to change them and more complex challenging dishes. There are many irish recipes and international recipes also, it’s more a culinary bible than a book and would be well placed in any kitchen. It is written by Darina Allen, the co-founder and one of the teacher’s at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork, Ireland. She’s the Irish answer to Delia Smith and a promoter of slow food and traditional cooking techniques. The cookery school is famous and has been the first step for many in a culinary career. It’s located in the middle of its own 100-acre organic farm outside Cork City, in an idyllic location near the coast.I am offering this cookbook as part of the prize I have donated for Menu for Hope 4 so, I thought that I should cook something from it to show you how lovely it is. I have chosen something very simple and quick as I had very little time yesterday. It was delicious, very rich and flavoursome, a perfect winter soup. The devil is in the detail as always, covering the potato and onion with the paper while it sweats really concentrates the flavour, be sure to do it. I used a chicken stock but a nice rich veggie stock would be great with this too, I just used what I had to hand.


Serves 6 approx

450g (1 lb) chopped onions
225g (8oz) chopped potatoes
45g (12oz) butter
1-2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper
900ml (12 pints) homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock
150ml (3 pint) cream or cream and milk mixed, approx

fresh thyme leaves and thyme or chive flowersMethod:


Peel and chop the onions and potatoes into small dice, about 1 cm.

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. As soon as it foams, add the onions and potatoes, stir until they are coated with the butter. Add the thyme leaves, season with S&P.

Place a paper lid (I used baking paper) on top of the vegetables directly to keep in the steam. Cover the saucepan with a tight fitting lid and sweat on a low heat for 10 minutes or so. The potatoes and onions should be soft but not coloured.

Add the stock, bring it to the boil and simmer until the potatoes are cooked – about 5-8 minutes. Liquidise the soup and add a little cream or creamy milk. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary.

Serve, sprinkled with thyme leaves.

For information on how to donate and enter a raffle to win this book, please see the Menu for Hope – Raffle announcement & prize post.


Menu for Hope – Raffle announcement & prize

In an earlier post, I mentioned Chez Pim’s Menu for Hope, a fundraising drive by food bloggers internationally.

Chez Pim has announced Menu for Hope 4 – her annual fundraising event. Inspired by the Tsnuami 5 years ago, in 2006, Menu for Hope raised US$62,925.12 to help the UN World Food Programme feed the hungry. I applaud her for this effort and would like to spread the word by directing you to her blog. This year, she is again supporting the UN World Food Programme.

The funds raised bby Menu for Hope 4 will be earmarked for the school lunch program in Lesotho, Africa.

I am very pleased to participate and it’s time for me to announce my prize, and to encourage you to participate in this worthwhile cause. I am putting forward two Irish cookbooks that I love: the Ballymaloe Cookery Course, a fantastic book written by Darina Allen, one of the co-founders and teachers at the renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland, 1175 recipes, 370 variations and more than 100 basic skills, from making pastry to the art of carving, from preserving lemons to making delicious home-made pasta, from culturing creamy yogurt to butterflying a leg of lamb: the simple instructions given by one of the world’s great cook-teachers will inspire you to prepare and enjoy the art of fresh produce and fine food & Wild Garlic, Gooseberries and Me: A Chef’s Stories and Recipes from the Land, the latest cookbook from award winning food writer and restaurateur Dennis Cotter. Cotter created a considerable stir with Café Paradiso and the award-winning Paradiso Seasons, both books that brought fresh and innovative elements into food writing. Wild Garlic, Gooseberries… and Me is different from the earlier books; this is a winningly written, often very funny collection of anecdotes and tempting to vegetarian recipes. Cotter takes us on a journey which is both an introduction his favourite foods as well as a way of collecting the best possible ingredients — and as this involves foraging in woods and hedgerows, it’s not for those will have no wish to stray further than their kitchens. Want to know how to find the best mushrooms, sloes or wild greens? You’ll find Wild Garlic, Gooseberries… and Me a highly useful guide.

Ballymaloe was one of my earliest culiary inspirations and Café Paradiso one of my favourite restaurants in Ireland, both books are wonderful and I would take great pleasure in sharing them with you. So, to inspire and encourage you, I plan to cook from both during the Menu for Hope drive. I will ship to the UK & Ireland.

So, be a sport and buy a virtual raffle ticket.

Donation instructions:

1. Go to the donation site at and make a donation.

2. Specify the prize code for this prize – UK14 – in the ‘Personal Message’ section in the donation form when confirming your donation. Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. If you would like to buy a ticket for another prize you can see the complete international list at UK prizes are listed at If you are buying more than one ticket, please indicate how you would like the tickets to be allocated. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02. Please write 2xEU01, 3xEU02. UK prizes are at:

3. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.

4. Please check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we could contact you in case you win.
Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

5. The results of the raffle will be annonced on Chez Pim on Wednesday Jaunary 9.


Christmas Deluxe at Covent Garden

Not a recipe today, I’m afraid, I have been cooking but it’s all been rough and ready, so I’ll spare you the attempts :-) Things have been busy since my return from Ireland, and with the festive season kicking in, they’re only getting busier! I do miss my culinary attempts and am craving a few hours in the kitchen.

For now, the lovely people at Covent Garden Market have been in touch with details of their 12 days of Christmas Luxury Food Market. For those of you that enjoyed the one that they had in August as I did, it looks a treat. There will also be other things afoot, like bespoke gift wrapping and storytelling. I thought that I’d share so that you can get it in your diaries.

12 Days of Christmas Luxury Food Market

The Luxury Christmas Night Market will run for 12 days from 12th until 23rd December. The Market will showcase luxury Christmas festive goodies from the UK’s finest food purveyors and producers, all specially hand-picked for the occasion. Foodies will be able to buy and taste five-bird roasts, plum and figgy puddings, exquisite mince pies, mouth-watering chocolates, organic seasonal vegetables and fruits, smoked fish, oysters, Stilton from Neal’s Yard Dairy, the best pork and cranberry pies from Ginger Pig and piping hot spiced cider.[Read more]