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Sunday, 31 July 2011

Trealy wonderful

What happens when a couple of dedicated Pig farmers get together to discuss how to increase the value of their produce?

They embark on a trans-continental quest to learn how to make the best charcuterie in the UK, and win more awards and praise than you could shake a stick at.

And that's what happened.

Trealy Farm Charcuterie started out in 2005, when James Swift and former business partner, Graham Waddington, met at the Abergavenny Food Festival and put their shared passion into business practice. Within a very short time the farm between Raglan and Monmouth would become the epicentre of the UK's charcuterie production.

A trip across Europe gave the opportunity to learn from and train with charcuterie makers to make British and continental-style fresh and cooked sausages as well as traditionally cured bacons and hams. But their range also includes air-dried products rarely made in the UK such as chorizos, air-dried hams, loins and pancetta and a range of salamis including lightly smoked snack-sized ‘snack salami’ and cabanos

Back home the pigs from Trealy Farm itself and some really good local producers meant that the vision of producing high quality charcuterie from local and sustainable sources of meat became a reality. They combine traditional methods of curing, smoking and air-drying with innovation and technology and co-operative working with other local food producers, such as Black Mountain Smokery, allowed an expansion of the range.

All the while the produce was earning rave reviews at Farmers Markets and from local chefs.

Soon the awards started to come.

Best UK Food Producer in the Observer Food Awards, Best Product in the Good Housekeeping Food Awards, the Gold Award in the Best Beef Product Category in the True Taste Awards and voted a finalist in the Local Food category of the Quality Food Awards.

“Trealy provides a good example of how good salami should be made. They use first class ingredients, age old techniques, and 21st century innovation provides a first class product. The award winning salami is made from the Gloucester old spot pig.”(Waitrose Food Awards)

Trealy Farm Charcuterie products are bought and cooked in a number of renowned UK restaurants (The Hardwick, Hix Soho, London’s Gherkin and The National Portrait Gallery), by eminent chefs including; Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Mark Hix, Raymond Blanc and Stephen Terry. A special relationship has developed with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and River Cottage has it’s own specialist charcuterie package.

Peersonnaly I use a wide range of their excellent products, see the recipe below, and believe that the only producer coming near to Trealy is Gubbeen from Schull, County Cork where the whey from the family herd (vital for the making of the excellent Gubbeen Cheese) is fed to the pigs that make the charcuterie.

And it all comes full circle, this year James will be co-hosting a tutored tasting with chef Jose Pizzaro at the Abergavenny food festival. Sunday at 1pm in Trinity Hall is the place to be, and I have already booked my ticket. To get yours go to

Trealy Farm really do fit the requirement to be Local and Great.

To find out more visit

Here are a couple of recipes ideally suited to show off some of Trealy’s great charcuterie

Chorizo and Chickpea Soup

Serves 6-8

2 x 400g/8oz can cooked chickpeas, drained

45ml/3 tbsp olive oil

2 leeks sliced thinly or diced

2 onions diced

2 carrots diced

2 sticks celery diced

2 potatoes diced

2 x 400g/8oz can chopped tomatoes

2 cloves garlic chopped

1 tsp. turmeric (ground)

1 tsp. cumin (ground)

salt and pepper

225g/8oz Trealy Farm chorizo sausage diced

1.7l/3 pint chicken stock

Heat oil in a saucepan. Add spices, onions, garlic, leeks, carrots and celery and cook gently for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add chickpeas, potatoes, tomatoes, chorizo sausage and seasoning.

Cover and gently simmer for a further 15 minutes.

It should be thick with vegetables and contain very little liquid.

Serve piping hot with crusty bread.

Smoked Trout and Fennel Salami Risotto

This recipe was the 2009 Wales and the West winner for Starters in Britain’s Best Dish and reached the national finals. Modesty prevents my revealing the name of the chef!

Serves 2 but easily multiplied
For the risotto

150g organic leeks

100g diced Trealy Farm Fennel salami

200ml extra virgin olive oil

75g unsalted butter

200g Carnoroli rice

50ml of white wine

300ml good quality vegetable stock

2 Black Mountain Smokery smoked trout fillets

50g Halen Mon sea salt

100g mixed small salad leaves (pea shoots, lambs lettuce, frisee, mizuno etc)

Freshly milled black pepper

4 quail eggs

For the vinaigrette

1 dsp olive oil

2 dsp white wine

Salt and pepper

½ dsp Dijon mustard

To garnish

2 large or 4 medium vine ripened tomatoes

1 organic lemon

10g capers

Peel and deseed the tomatoes (add the seeds and skin to the vegetable stock, then strain before using). Chop the flesh finely (concasse) and reserve in a small dish.

Dice the capers and add to the tomatoes to rest/marinade.

Bring the stock to slow simmer. Finely dice up a quarter of the leek. Dice the salami into ¼ inch cubes.

In a heavy saucepan heat 1tbsp olive oil and 50g butter. When foaming, add the leek and salami and sweat for 2 minutes.

Add the rice and stir to ensure an even coating of oil/butter. Add the white wine and allow it to reduce down.

Stir constantly whilst adding the vegetable stock one ladle at a time when the liquid has nearly adsorbed.

Continue for around 15 - 18 minutes until the rice is swollen and soft but still al dente and the overall appearance is creamy.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the flaked smoked trout and check the seasoning.

Cover and leave for 2 minutes so that the trout can come up to heat and for the flavour to infuse.

Whilst the risotto is standing, poach the eggs in an open pan of simmering water.

Mix all the vinaigrette ingredients together in a bowl

Place a circle of leaves, lightly tossed with the dressing, on the plate. Place a mound of risotto on top of the leaves and arrange the concasse tomatoes and capers around the mould

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Cakes and Craic

I have just spent three days cooking with my granddaughter. Though she enjoyed making fresh pasta and Foccacia - especially poking the holes, it was cake that really excited her, to the extent that she stuck some black tape to her chin to be Duff Goldman, the Ace of Cakes!

Making a range of cakes reminded me how much fun they can be so here are a couple of recipes which all received the "Poppy" treatment.

Lemon Muffins Makes 10 or 12

For the Muffins

300 grams Plain Flour

175 grams Caster Sugar

2 tsp Baking Powder

1 Lemon

50 grams Butter

225 mils Milk

1 medium Egg (beaten)

For the icing

2tbsp Lemon Juice

175 grams Icing Sugar

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and add the sugar, mix well.

Zest the lemon and place the zest in a small saucepan with the butter (cut into cubes). Place on a low heat and add 4 tbsp of milk. When the butter has melted remove from the heat, cool slightly and add the rest of the milk and the beaten egg..

Combine the butter mixture with the flour and sugar and spoon into muffin cases.

Bake for 15 minutes at 200c.

Remove and leave in the tin whilst you make the icing by beating the lemon juice into the icing sugar. Ice the buns whilst they are still warm so that the icing spreads easier.

Cool and put into an airtight box.

Carrot Cake

I use the Avoca Cafe recipe (and so does Rachel Allen)

Makes 2 cakes, just as well as it is more-ish!!

14oz caster sugar

14oz grated carrots (I use a microplane)

14 oz self-raising flour

14fl oz sunflower oil

4 eggs (I use medium)

1tsp salt (I use Halen Mon) or even their Vanilla Salt

1tsp mixed spice

1tsp vanilla essence

Combine eggs, sugar and oil and mix well with an electric mixer.

Add salt, spice and vanilla essence and mix well.

Sift in the flour and mix thoroughly

Add grated carrots and mix through.

Pour into 2 baking tins, well-greased or use a paper liner.

Bake for 1 hour at 170c 325f Gas mark 3. Check after 55 mins especially in a fan oven.

Cool in tins for 15 mins the turn out on to a rack.

For topping

6oz cream cheese e.g. Philadelphia (I use Mascarpone)

2oz butter (softened)

Zest of a lemon and juice of ½ a lemon.

6oz icing sugar.

Combine all ingredients and spread on cake.

Madeira Cake

Probably the most versatile of all cakes, It can be added to to change the taste and can be cooked round, in loaf tins or in a swiss roll tin to make a range of traybakes.

Ingredients – for 18 cm square tin or 20 cm round tin

350 g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

250g softened margarine (I used softened butter)

250g caster sugar

4 xl eggs – beaten

1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 160°C. Grease the tin and line the tin with double thickness of greaseproof/baking paper (I tend to use commercial baking cases). Grease the paper and set the tin aside.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add in the sugar; mix well with a wooden spoon.

Now add in the margarine/butter, eggs and lemon juice. Stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Now beat the mixture, either using the wooden spoon, vigorously for two mins or one minute using electric beaters on medium speed.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours. To test if baked, press lightly in the middle. If the cake springs back, it is baked. Or alternatively, test by inserting skewer in the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is done.

A traybake will take 20 minutes or so as the mix is much thinner.

Variations all added at the mixing stage

I tsp Coffee essence - Camp or Irel

Grated Zest of an orange or lemon

Mixed fruit and candied peel


Traybake toppings

Icing as for the Lemon Muffins

The Carrot Cake topping

Raspberry Jam and sweetened dessicated coconut

9oz Icing sugar combined with 3 tbsp Orange or Rose water to amke a runny fondant icing - it will set in time


Sunday, 24 July 2011

Picnic Time

Assuming the weather remains fine during August a picnic is a distinct possibility. These three recipes will lift yours from the traditional Ham Sandwich and Crisps variety into a real celebration of al fresco dining without too much effort, and maintaining the traditional approach. One recipe is from Chez Panisse, America’s top restaurant, run by Alice Waters who reinvented Californian food and started their recent food revolution. Sophisticated but simple it will add a real highlight to any picnic, or indeed meal.

Pork Pie

THE traditional picnic food, and easier to make than you might think. Once you have tasted your own homemade pies you will make them again and again. This recipe is for a large “cutting pie” but if you have moulds make individual pies.

For the filling

450 g pork shoulder, (ask your butcher for the higher meat) finely chopped

55 g pork fat, finely minced

55 g bacon, minced

For the pastry

450 g flour

225 g lard

90 ml water

beaten egg yolks, or milk to glaze

For the jelly

300 ml water

1/2 envelope powdered gelatine, (about 6g) or 2 sheets of leaf gelatine

parsley, or other herbs (optional)

To make the pastry: put the flour in a mixing bowl and crumble in the lard. Work until beginning to come together. Add a pinch of salt and start adding the water gradually, working until the dough breaks (NB. it must not be stretchable). Let it rest for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5.

Knead the dough on a floured surface and roll out about 5mm thick. Reserve enough pastry to make a lid. Use the larger piece of dough to line the base and sides of a 20cm (8 inch) plain flan ring or, if you have one a springform tin.

To make the filling: mix the pork shoulder, pork fat and bacon and season with salt and pepper. Place this mixture in the dough case, but don't squash it in.
Brush the edges of the dough with water and place the lid on top. Make sure this is sealed well by pressing with a fork.
Brush the top with egg yolk or milk. Cook in the oven for about 1 hour 30 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and remove the flan ring immediately. Leave the pie to cool, and then chill overnight.

Next day, make up the gelatine with the water according to the packet instructions. Adding chopped parsley or other herbs is good. Make a hole in the top of the pie and pour the gelatine in until the pie is completely filled (the meat will have shrunk so there will be plenty of space). Let the pie set in the fridge overnight (or for at least 12 hours for the best results).

Scotch Eggs

Another great picnic dish, and so different from the shop bought variety. Try other coatings, Polenta is good or crushed oats, each gives a differing texture and taste.

4 large free-range eggs

275g/10oz sausage meat

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 spring onion, very finely chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

125g/4oz plain flour, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 free-range egg, beaten

125g/4oz breadcrumbs

vegetable oil, for deep frying Use a deep fryer at 180c if you have one.
Place the eggs, still in their shells, in a pan of cold salted water.

Place over a high heat and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for exactly nine minutes.

Drain and cool the eggs under cold running water, then peel.

Mix the sausage meat with the thyme, parsley and spring onion in a bowl and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper

Divide the sausage meat mixture into four and flatten each out on a clean surface into ovals about 12.5cm/5in long and 7.5cm/3in at its widest point.

Place the seasoned flour onto a plate, then dredge each boiled egg in the flour.

Place each onto a sausage meat oval, then wrap the sausage meat around each egg. Make sure the coating is smooth and completely covers each egg.

Dip each sausage meat-coated egg in the beaten egg, rolling to coat completely, then dip and roll into the breadcrumbs to completely cover.

Heat the oil in a deep heavy-bottomed pan, until a breadcrumb sizzles and turns brown when dropped into it. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.)

Carefully place each scotch egg into the hot oil and deep-fry for 8-10 minutes, until golden and crisp and the sausage meat is completely cooked.

Carefully remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Serve cool.

(I often cut my eggs in half before covering them, they make a nice snack sized bite and you don’t have the yolk falling out when you cut them to eat!)

Chez Panisse Fresh Mozzarella Salad
Serves 4

This is the perfect recipe in which to enjoy fresh Mozzarella .As in all simple recipes, success here lies in the quality of the ingredients.

You must begin with very fresh mozzarella, the kind still floating in its milky whey. For this reason, locally made cheese is preferable. (At Chez Panisse they make their own mozzarella and serve it within hours while it is still soft and creamy.)

225g (8oz) fresh mozzarella

Sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

Fresh basil, marjoram, parsley, mint or thyme


Vine-ripened cherry tomatoes,

sliced prosciutto,


Have the mozzarella at room temperature.
Cut it into the ¼ inch slices and arrange on a platter.
Season very lightly with sea salt and generously with freshly ground pepper.
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
Roughly chop the herbs (one herb or a combination) and scatter them over the cheese.

Serve the cheese salad very plain, or add an assortment of different coloured cherry tomatoes, sliced in half and salted; surround with prosciutto slices and decorate with black olives.

And of course you need Fresh Lemonade. The Famous Five may have gone for “lashings and lashings of Ginger Beer” but lemonade is much more traditional This is one recipe burned indelibly on my mind, having copped for Lemonade Duty on a regular basis at Ballymaloe.


1 pint water

10 oz sugar

4 oranges

2 lemons

Bring the water and sugar together to the boil and simmer three minutes (this is a stock syrup). Turn off the heat and cool.
Juice the oranges and lemons and add to the cooled syrup.
Refrigerate until needed. Then dilute with still or sparkling water to taste.

Try substituting other citrus fruits or adding a little grated ginger for a wide panoply of soft drinks!

One thing I will not suggest you make for a picnic is the “Sandwiches inside a Loaf “ masterpiece! It is great but just too “cheffy” for an article like this. Stunning to look at, a long time to make, and not as practical as a cool bag this little epic is only for the desperate to impress, though anyone who REALLY wants to make it can email me for the method, as we made several at Ballymaloe!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Local and Great!

Just 20 minutes up the road Abergavenny Food Festival certainly meets the criteria of being Local, and in its 10th year it certainly is Great.

Over a weekend in September the finest producers in the UK will gather for a two day celebration of all that is good about food. With five venues a huge range of products will be on view, top chefs will be demonstrating their skills and serious debates around food will also be held in a number of venues.

In many ways there is just too much to take in but careful use of the festival programme will enable you to have a truly wonderful foodie weekend.

The festival is not just concentrated on the main venues, a vibrant street market adds to the fun and over recent years a bustling fringe has been established with local restaurants offering special meals and deals, walking tours take in tutored foraging, fishing the local rivers for trout, events at the local vineyards and a children’s festival all contribute to the experience.

One of the highlights is the decoration of the Market Hall (main venue) with huge hanging sculptures. Over recent years these have included sheep, hens and celebrity chef angels. All done by a local art group who must start in about April, so good are these creations.

Most of the free demo sessions take place here though the ticketed ones use a wide range of venues from the theatre through hotels, church halls and business centres. The exhibitors are in themed areas cheese, fish, wine etc. so you can plan your walkabout to see whatever tickles your fancy.

The ticketed events range from talks via demos to guided tastings and involve some of the major food related figures. In the past I have really enjoyed John Dickie talking about Delizia his history of Italian food,

Matthew Fort interviewing Antonio Carlucci and the mayhem caused by the Market Kitchen team overheating chilli powder whlstt toasting it!

Seconds later a thick chilli infused cloud rolled through the room nearly ending the demo

Some of the highlights have been the food critics holding forth – Jay Rayner and Michael Winner, though sadly not at the same time.
Inevitably there are a lot of new books released to coincide with the food event of the year and many signing sessions are held:

Of course you will find our local chefs there, Shaun Hill, Matt Tebbut, Stephen Terry and James Summerin, but casual visitors from the UK’s panoply of Michelin starred chefs and those about to reach that accolade are often found wandering and browsing. The streets often have impromptu demos and tastings, some of which are recorded for later use on television.

Local produce is high on the menu and most has won Taste Awards – Black Mountain Smokery, Trealy Farm Charcuterie, Blaenafon Cheddar, Ty Mawr Organics to name but a few and the best in their field are all in Abergavenny that weekend.

Sadly I missed last year as I was at Ballymaloe so this year is extra special for me, not the least because some of my absolute food heroes, Richard Berthinet, James Swift ofTrealy Farm and Arun Kapil from Green Saffron are appearing.

Two days of great fun, get there or miss out on the best food experience in the UK.

To find out more and book your tickets, go here

See you in September!!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Barbie Time

With the long Summer Holidays ahead, and hopefully good weather it's Barbie Time. The only period of the year when men turn from hunter/gatherers to guardians of the sacred flame, when aprons are donned without a hint of "prissy pinny" attitude, and meats are either totally carbonised or heated unevenly into the ideal breeding grounds for e-coli, staphylococcus and botulism.

But, done well a barbecue is a great way of cooking and is virtually the method of choice across whole swathes of the USA.

Here are a couple of tried and tested recipes which will look and taste good and hopefully renew your faith in charcoal briquettes, provided they are under the grill not on it!

Tan y Ddraig (Dragon Fire) Burgers

This burger has a distinctly Welsh feel from the leeks and a kick from the Chilli that gives it the Dragon Fire Name. Ideally use Welsh Black Beef or Longhorn. Lamb would add an extra Welshness or even Pork using Tamworth Pig for the great fat: meat ratio. We have great local suppliers of all of these meats.


450g/16oz lean beef mince (I actually put diced steak into a food processor as the texture is better and it sticks together better and reduces the fat content)

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp tomato ketchup

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 red chilli, finely chopped – taste for heat you may need to reduce this

1/2 small leek, finely diced

Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

2 spring onions, sliced

Handful coriander leaves, chopped – about 2 tablespoons full

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and shape into 4 or 8 patties (depends how big you like them) cover with cling film and rest in the fridge for ½ hour to firm up.

Grill on a barbecue when the coals have turned grey but are still giving plenty of heat.

4-8 Burger Buns, halved and toasted on the grill– insides only

Top with Cheese or smoky bacon or both, serve with sides of barbecue sauce, slaw and salad or the new potato kebabs below and the Cucumber Relish from an earlier recipe.

Chargrilled New Potato Skewers

Serves 4-6

900g (2lb) small new potatoes


4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, approximately

1 tbsp rosemary, finely chopped

Sea salt

Metal skewer or pre-soaked bamboo skewers

Scrub the potatoes and cook in boiling salted water for 15-20 minutes. Cool. (the potatoes may be cooked ahead). Cut in half, toss in olive oil and sprinkle with finely chopped rosemary and sea salt.

Thread the potato halves onto the skewers. Cook potato halves over a barbecue until crisp and slightly charred on both sides.

(Alternatively, roast in a hot oven 230C/450F/gas mark 8 for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked and nicely brown — you may need to turn half way through. )

Roast Red Pepper, Olive and Basil Salsa

1 red pepper, roasted, peeled, deseeded and cut into/¼-inch dice

1 ripe, firm tomato, peeled, deseeded and inch dice

2 tbsp of coarsely chopped black olives

1-2 tbsp olive oil

1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed

10 basil leaves, chopped or torn

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Mix all of the ingredients together. Taste and correct seasoning.

Hot Sweet and Sticky Chicken Drumsticks

Serves 6-8


5fl oz Ketchup

21/2 fl oz Balsamic Vinegar

2 tablespoons soft brown sugar

4 teaspoons finely chopped garlic

4 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

3 teaspoons Tabasco

2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard

2 teaspoons Paprika

2 teaspoons Chilli Powder

16 Chicken Drumsticks

Olive Oil

Mix the marinade ingredients in a large bowl.

Wash the drumsticks, pat dry with kitchen towels and then add to the marinade making sure all are covered. Cover and refridgerate for 6-8 hours turning occasionally.

Preheat oven to 180c gas 4.

Remove drumsticks, brush with olive oil and place in oven for 20 minutes.

Baste with the marinade ( discard the rest) and barbecue on high heat until marked, about 6 minutes, turning halfway.

Then move to the sides, (cooler) and cook until done.

Barbecued bananas with butterscotch sauce

Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

4-6 ripe bananas


1tbsp. Soft brown sugar

Dark rum

Vanilla ice cream, to serve

For the butterscotch sauce:

50g/2 oz Butter

150g/5 oz Soft brown sugar

1tbsp. Golden syrup

150ml/5floz Cream

For the bananas, cut them in their skins in half lengthways and loosen the skin slightly.

Sprinkle with a little brown sugar, rum and a dot of butter.

Place skin side down on a medium heat barbecue.

Cook for 5-10 minutes.

To make the sauce, melt together the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a small pan over a low heat.

Once the mixture has melted, pour in the cream and stir well.

Remove from the heat and serve at once (or cool, this sauce will keep in the fridge for 1 week).

Serve with the barbecued bananas and ice cream- Yum!!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Broad Bean Dip - Delightful

Broad bean and Pea Dip

This is my British Summer take on Hummus, using the freshest seasonal ingredients. The Mint and Lemon add adepth of flavour. It tastes good and would be a suitable accompaniment to spicy foods or as dip with Pitta Bread, Crudities, Nachos, Crisps or Breadsticks.  I find it creamy enough without Creme Fraiche or Cream, but if you want extra smoothness go ahead. Mrs K uses it as an alternative to Butter even.

Takes a few minutes to make and probably lasts up to a week in the fridge, I don’t know as ours has always been eaten well before then.


200 grams (podded weight) Broad Beans

50 grams (shelled weight) Peas

Juice of ½ Lemon

2 Spring Onions diced

Small Handful of Mint – roughly chopped

Good twist of Black Pepper

Olive Oil

Pod the peas and beans and place into boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove and refresh in iced water.

Take the white outer from the beans and place in a food processor with the diced spring onions and mint. Add the lemon juice and black pepper Pulse several times then add a little olive oil and repeat.

You are looking for some small chunks of bean as opposed to a smooth puree. Add more oil a little at a time pulsing until you get the right texture.

Taste and Season.

Place in a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Raspberry Heaven

As June rolls into July British Raspberries come into season. To me they are even more of a Summer fruit than Strawberries as they are tastier and more versatile.

This time I have given you a recipe for Jam that is very easy and quick. The Jam is great on bread and butter or scones, can be a cake filling, top a steamed pudding or be swirled into ice cream for the legend that is Raspberry Ripple. In the depths of winter, spread on hot, buttered toast or crumpets it will evoke those warm days of summer.

The next recipe is for a cake using the jam as a filling and with a devilishly rich chocolate covering, though serving the cake with a whipped cream and fresh raspberry filling and a dusting of icing sugar would also be very acceptable in the taste department!

Raspberry Jam – This is the recipe that I used at Ballymaloe Cookery School, quick, easy and works every time

900 g white sugar, (use 110g less if the fruit is very sweet)

900 g fresh raspberries

(if you have more/fewer raspberries just adjust the sugar to match their weight and the number of jars for potting)

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Wash and dry 3 x 450g jars, then pop into the oven for 15 minutes to sterilise them.

Tip the sugar onto a tray and place in the oven for 5-10 minutes to heat through.

Put the raspberries into a wide stainless steel saucepan and cook for 3-4 minutes until the juice begins to run. Add the hot sugar and stir over a gentle heat until fully dissolved.

Turn up the heat and boil steadily for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Test for a set by putting about a teaspoon of jam on a cold plate, and leaving it for a few minutes in a cool place. It should wrinkle when pressed with a finger.

Remove from the heat immediately, skim off any scum from the surface and pour into the sterilised jam jars. Cover immediately and store in a cool place.

Nice Summer Sponge Cake with a decadent topping.

125g (4 ½ oz) butter, softened

175g (6oz) caster sugar

3 eggs

175g (6oz) plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 4. Grease and flour the sides of two 18cm (7in) cake tins, and line the bases with discs of greaseproof paper.

Cream the butter until soft, then gradually add the sugar, and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, beating well all the time. Make sure the butter is well creamed and that the eggs are added slowly or the mix will “curdle” and you will get a heavier –though still delicious sponge, Sieve the flour and baking powder, and stir in gently, then stir in the milk until just combined

Divide the mixture between the two tins, hollowing it slightly in the centre, so that it will be flat on top when cooked. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the centre of the cake springs back when you push it gently. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow it to cool. (Place the cake that will become the top layer on its base so that the top isn't marked by the cooling rack.)

When cooled spread Raspberry Jam on the cake chosen to be the base and then sandwich the other on top.

Meanwhile make the Chocolate Covering

110 grams Dark Chocolate (I use a minimum 70% cocoa content) broken into small pieces/squares

110 grams unsalted butter

I tablespoon rum

In a bowl over hot water combine the chocolate and rum and melt. Make sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water and that the heat is off or the chocolate may “block” and set solid. (if it does start again and enjoy the failed chocolate)

When the chocolate has melted add the butter in small amounts until all melted in, stirring all the time.

Allow to cool and thicken before spreading over the cake.

Decorate the top with fresh Raspberries then ENJOY!