Let there be food…

Amy Heffernan

Africa, September/October 2020, Vol. 85 No. 7

Irish Tea Brack

This month’s recipe is for an Irish tea brack. With Halloween just around the corner it’s a lovely alternative to the traditional Barmbrack which is usually made with yeast and eaten at this time of year. The Irish tea brack requires you to soak dried fruit overnight, but it is simple and quick to make. I hope you enjoy it.

You will need

100g (3½ oz) Sultanas 

100g (3½ oz) Raisins

100g (3½ oz) Currants

80g (2¾ oz) Glace Cherries

50g (1½ oz) Mixed Peel

300ml (10 fl oz) Fresh hot tea

1 Egg

200g (7oz) Soft Dark Brown Sugar

225g (8oz) Self Raising Flour 

1 Tsp Mixed Spice


Place the dried fruit, cherries and mixed peel in a bowl, and pour in the hot tea. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and allow to steep overnight.


The next day, preheat the oven to 180ºc (350ºF) (Conventional Oven) or 160ºc (320ºF) (Fan Assisted Oven). Line a 1lb (450g) tin with parchment paper.


Gently whisk the egg and then add it and the brown sugar to the fruit mix. Sift the self-raising flour and mixed spice into the fruit mixture and stir until it’s all combined 


Pour into the lined loaf tin and bake for 1½ hours or until a skewer inserted into the brack comes out clean.


Leave to cool on a wire rack.


Tip: This brack will last well in an airtight container and it can also be frozen.

Africa, July/August 2020, Vol. 85 No. 6

Warm Honey and Mustard Potato Salad

This month’s recipe is a warm potato salad. It is something a little different to the usual potato salad recipes we are used to. Instead of using mayonnaise, I use a honey and mustard dressing which is full of flavour and not as heavy. The dressing is simple and quick to make and can be used to dress other salads too. This is a great dish for a bbq during the summer months, but it can be enjoyed as a tasty side any time of year.

You will need

1 kg Baby Potatoes

2 Tbsp Olive or Rapeseed Oil

2 Cloves Garlic (peeled & crushed)

1 Red Onion (peeled & sliced)

10 Smoked Streaky Rashers (Bacon)

4 Scallions or Spring Onions (sliced)

Salt & Pepper


For the Honey & Mustard Dressing

1 Tbsp Wholegrain Mustard 

1 Tbsp Honey 

1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

1 Tbsp Cider Vinegar

1 Clove Garlic (peeled & crushed)

6 Tbsp Olive or Rapeseed Oil

Salt & Pepper


Preheat the oven to 190°C (370ºF). On a lined roasting tray lay the streaky rashers out flat and place into the oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until they are crispy. Then remove from the tray, slice into small strips and set aside. Keep the tray to roast the potatoes.


Halve the baby potatoes and place into a saucepan. Cover with cold water and place on a medium to high heat. Allow to come to the boil, then cook for 5 minutes. Drain the hot water from the baby potatoes. Then add the oil, garlic, salt and pepper and toss so the potatoes are well coated.


Place on the roasting tray and put into the oven for 20 minutes. Then remove and toss through the sliced red onion. Return to the oven for 5 minutes.


To make the dressing place the mustard, honey, vinegar and garlic into a bowl. Whisk to combine. Slowly pour the oil in as you continue to whisk. Add seasoning to taste. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and add the streaky rashers and sliced scallions. Mix until all the potatoes are covered and serve warm.


Tip: Line the roasting tray with parchment paper, as it makes washing-up much easier.

Africa, May 2020, Vol. 85 No. 4

Wild Garlic Pesto

This month’s recipe calls for some foraging, a great reason to get out and explore your local woodlands. What we are foraging for is wild garlic, also know as ramsons. It is one of the first edible plants to appear in the spring. It grows abundantly and can be found in deciduous woodlands, usually near streams as it prefers slightly acidic and moist soils. Its green glossy leaves and white flowers are easy to spot for the novice forager, but its most distinguishing feature is its smell. If it doesn’t smell like garlic, it is not wild garlic! The waft of garlic from this plant packs a punch and it’s what makes this recipe so tasty. Use as a dressing over salads, spread onto your favourite bread, add to pasta or use as a marinade for meat, poultry or fish – the list of uses for this tasty condiment is endless. Next time you are strolling through the countryside keep your eyes and nose peeled for this wonderful plant. You won’t be disappointed.

You will need

150g (5oz) Wild Garlic Leaves (Washed)

50g (1½oz) Pine Nuts

50g (1½oz) Parmesan Cheese (Grated)

½ Lemon

150 ml (5fl oz) Olive or Rapeseed Oil

Salt & Pepper


Spread the pine nuts out on a flat baking tray and place in a preheated oven at 190°C (370ºF) for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir halfway. Once roasted remove from the oven and allow to cool. Place the wild garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan and juice of half a lemon into a food processor and blitz for a minute or two. Then gradually add the olive oil until blended. If the consistency is a bit thick add more oil until you get the consistency you require. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour your pesto into a sterilised jar and store in the fridge. It will keep for three weeks.


Top tip: The entire plant is edible – the leaves, the flowers, and even the bulbs. However, it is illegal to uproot wild plants, so it’s best to just clip the leaves and blossoms low to the ground. Use the foraging code* and only forage what you need from any patch you find. If foraging isn’t for you don’t worry. You can substitute the wild garlic for basil, and it’s just as delicious.

Africa, April 2020, Vol. 85 No. 3

Queen Cakes (Makes 12)

This month’s recipe is a simple queen cake recipe, an easy recipe to whip up especially with kids over the Easter break. I’ve used a butter icing to decorate but you can decorate with a glacé icing, whipped cream and jam or enjoy them as they are.

You will need:

Queen cakes:

170g (6oz) Butter 

170g (6oz) Caster Sugar 

4 Eggs 

1 Teaspoon Vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon Milk (whole milk)

170g (6oz) Self-raising Flour 


Butter Icing: 

110g (4oz) Butter 

225g (8oz) Icing Sugar

Food Colouring (Optional)


For the queen cakes: Preheat your oven to 180ºC (Conventional Oven) (160ºC Fan Assisted Oven, Gas Mark 4, 350ºF). Line a 12-hole queen cake tray with paper cases. Place the butter and caster sugar in a bowl and with an electric mixer or a wooden spoon beat the mixture until pale, light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs one at a time beating the mixture as you go. Then sift the flour into the mixture. Next add the vanilla extract and milk. Combine until you have a smooth batter. Spoon the batter into the bun cases, filling two-thirds of the case. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until golden and springy to touch (depending on the size of your bun case you may need to adjust baking time).Cool on a wire rack.


For the icing:

Beat the butter with an electric mixer or a wooden spoon until pale, light and fluffy. Gradually add the sifted icing sugar beating the mixture as you go. The icing should be soft, smooth and easy to work with. If it feels a bit stiff add 2 tablespoons of milk or cream. The longer the icing is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes. If you want you can add a few drops of food colouring to your icing.


Once the queen cakes are cool, decorate with the butter icing using a piping bag and nozzle or simply smooth a dollop of icing on with a pallet knife. Add sprinkles, sweets or some leftover Easter treats to add the finishing touch to your queen cakes.


Tip: The more you beat the batter for the queen cakes the more air you will incorporate to give you a light and airy sponge. 

Amy Heffernan is a chef and lives in Co Wicklow, Ireland.

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