Archive for February, 2011

February 25, 2011


by Ciaran Burke

Lovely Bergamots and limesBergamot and lime fruits

“Can I photograph your bergamots?” I innocently enquired. “I have never been asked that before” the lady replied. Her husband enquired if I wanted to photograph his, I declined. It was all quite innocent, I was asking the friendly couple who run Kinnedan Organic Farm stall if I could photograph their strange and bitter sweet fruit.

Kinnedan Organic Farm stall at Boyle Farmers' market

It looks a bit like a lemon, but its not. It has segments like a grapefruit, but its small and yellow. It is a citrus fruit, Citrus bergamia, and its best known use is for flavouring Earl Grey tea.It is often confused with the herb bergamont which is Monarda didyma, an unrelated herbaceous perennial plant. My first taste of bergamot was in Italy, where it is known as chinoto. A soft drink is sold using the name Chinoto, it looks like cola but has a totally different taste, not as sweet, more aromatic. That was many years ago.

bergamot fruit

Bergamot Fruit cut in half with grated rind

My more recent encounter with bergamot fruit was at Kinnedan Organic farm stall at the Origin farmers market in Bolye, Co. Roscommon. In a basket the plump yellow fruits shared the space with ripe green limes. I mistook them for lemons but once you smell them you are left in in no doubt that this is something different. Citrus-ey and aromatic, the oily tanginess fills your nostrils, you know this is going to be something special.

Most of the world’s bergamot production seems to take place in Reggio-Calabria in the south of Italy, although they are also grown in Ivory Coast. The trees can grow up to 3 metres and have a bossom typical of citrus, white and fragrant. Bergamot fruits are mostly available in winter.

When I got home my mind was racing, my tummy was rumbling and mouth was watering. The possibilities were endless. First thing I tried was chicken marinated in bergamot juice, grated rind with chili and salt. Thinly sliced chicken breast left to marinade for about twenty minutes then fried and served with stir fried vegetables and brown basmati rice (all organic). It was simply delicious.

After having a savory dish I wanted to have something sweet, so I made both lime curd and bergamot curd. Both are equally delicious, super spread on fresh brown spelt bread or try adding some to natural yogurt, delish!


(substitute limes for bergamots for lime curd)


320g Organic Raw Cane Sugar

Juice of 2 Bergamot (or lime) fruit

2 table Spoons of Bergamot (or lime) grated rind

4 eggs

230gm unsalted butter


  1. Wash jam jars, dry well and place in cold oven. Heat to 100 degrees Celcius.
  2. Whisk eggs and sugar together for a few minutes until mixture smooth
  3. Add the bergamot rind and juice.
  4. Transfer to sauce pan and heat the mixture on medium setting, stirring constantly until mixture is thick, about 7 – 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in butter, a small amount at a time.
  6. Transfer to sterilized jars and cover with lids straight away.

Store the curd in a cool place or refrigerate, use within 3 weeks.

Make sure to clean outside of jars with a clean damp cloth and apply labels with date.

Ingredients for making curd

Adding the butter, a little at a time, stirring constantly

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February 18, 2011

Organic Beef Sausages

by Ciaran Burke

It is cold, wet and windy ourside, but I do not care. I am feeling warm by the fire and well fed too, lucky me.

This evening I cooked up beef sausages in a tomato and herb sauce which was served with some nice mashed potato. Beef sausages are not so common in Ireland, usually pork is the norm. In fact, I don’t think you usually see them for sale in the supermarkets, but we buy our delicious organic beef sausages from the organic meat stall at the farmers market in Boyle, Co. Roscommon each Saturday. All their sausages are delicious, pork and lamb are available too. It is always a nice experience shopping at the market, every Saturday morning Deirdre from Irish Organic Meats cheerfully greets us and we chat about all sorts while she weighs out the stewing beef, their thick home cured rashers and packs a plump organic chicken into our shopping bag. Check out the link at the bottom to see their website.

We buy most of our food supply at the market, the meat is frozen and we get enough fresh vegetables and fruit to store until the next weekend. So this evening I decided to use the last of the tomatoes, a courgette and an onion along with some frozen chicken stock, made from the carcass of the chicken after it had been portioned up for freezing.

Here is the recipe


6 beef sausages chopped into pieces

4 tomatoes peeled and chopped

1 Onion diced

1 carrot diced

1 courgette diced

1 tsp of paprika

1 tsp of oregano

1/2 tsp rosemary

1/2 tsp of thyme

300 ml chicken stock

10 black olives sliced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

30 ml of Donegal Rapeseed Oil


  1. Saute the diced carrot and onion until soft.
  2. Add the sausages and brown
  3. Add the courgette and stir fry for about 3-4 minutes
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook on medium heat until they become a thick sauce, about 10 minutes
  5. Add herbs, paprika and salt and freshly ground black pepper
  6. Add stock, if using frozen stock turn the heat up high and move it around to melt it. When stock has melted turn down the heat, add the olives and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  7. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes and enjoy.

Note: all ingredient used were organic except the Donegal rapeseed Oil. We use this instead of Olive Oil as it is locally produced and reduces food miles.

Deirdre on her Irish Organic Meats stand at Boyle Market

February 18, 2011

Sowing lettuce seed on my blog

by Ciaran Burke

Spring is here, it is time to get going with growing your own food. On my blog I have been writing about sowing lettuce seed. There is a video too!

February 15, 2011

Hardy Alternatives

by Ciaran Burke
February 15, 2011

Hardy Alternatives

by Ciaran Burke

Brown, dried, dead. The effects of winter on many garden shrubs in Irish gardens. The past two winters have been hard on many of the stalwarts such as Hebe, Cistus and even herbs such as Rosemary and bay leaf.
If colder winters are going to continue we have to look for alternative shrubs. Recently I saw this attractively trained fir tree, Abies koreana, an nice hardy plant to use instead if a standard bay tree, Laurus nobilis. It looked great under planted with The ornamental grass. Stipa tenuissima.

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