The Darina Allen Column - Honor Moore

Darina AllenWhen I heard of Honor Moore’s recent passing I was deeply saddened. Somehow one felt that this doyenne of Irish food writers would always be with us. I didn’t know Honor very well but remember her support, when I started the Ballymaloe Cookery School and her encyclopaedic knowledge of traditional Irish food. I particularly remember a long conversation about boxty when I was doing research for my traditional food book.

Honor started to cook in an evacuee camp in the North of Ireland in the early 1940s under a chef from Gibraltar who by all accounts didn’t think much of her ability, apparently he advised her to give up all thoughts of being a chef and fortunately she didn’t heed him.

Soon after she started to write articles on food for the Belfast Newsletter under the nom de plume ‘Housekeeper’ and continued until 1968. She went on to write a weekly column in the RTE Guide for many years and also developed a loyal following as food editor of Woman’s Way magazine. She also did an occasional piece for the Farmer’s Journal and then started to work on a book about her life called A Cooks Tale.

Honor had many hats. When her husband Sam died suddenly in 1965, she had to take over the running of his PR (Public Relations) business. She knew nothing about PR but, through necessity, learned in double quick time. Within days, she was representing the interests of Marathon Oil, Irish Base Metals including the Tynagh Mine, Tara Exploration; The Irish Shoe Federation and many more.

Honor also made several appearances on TV with both Tom Doorley and on the Late Late Show.

As one of the founding members of the Irish Food Writers Guild she was highly respected by her journalistic colleagues. The Guild chose her as their President and she was re-elected every year since then, unopposed. In 2005, Eurotoques, the European Community of Chefs presented her with a special lifetime achievement award.

Throughout her 90 years she brought Irish people along with her as she introduced new ingredients and ideas and was always warm and supportive to young chefs, cooks restaurateurs and food producers.

Honor will be sadly missed and warmly remembered by all of us who knew her.

Honor Moore’s Smoked Fish Chowder with Carrageen

Serves 4

450g (1lb) smoked fish, cut in cubes

15g (3/4oz) butter

1 onion, chopped

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

2 medium leeks, trimmed and sliced

600ml (1 pint) fish stock or water

300ml (10 floz) milk

good pinch carrageen

freshly ground black pepper

Garnish: Dried dillisk.

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the onion, potatoes, and leeks, cook over a low heat, stirring, well until softened. Add the stock and milk.

Simmer until the vegetables are soft.  Season to taste; add the fish and the carrageen.

Simmer gently for 7 to 10 minutes more, to cook the fish.

Serve with toasted rolls.


Honor Moore's FougasseHonor Moore’s Fougasse

Makes 2 loaves

500g (18oz) strong white flour

3 tsp dried yeast

2 ½ tbsp olive oil 

sea salt

extra flour for kneading.

Sieve the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the center.  Dissolve the yeast in warm (not hot) water. Pour the mixture into the flour and add the olive oil using a wooden spoon.  

Begin mixing in the lukewarm water and continue until the mixture forms a loose dough.  Turn out on to a floured surface and knead for 2 minutes.  

Add the salt and continue to knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.  

Return the dough to the clean bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for an hour.

Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it out on to a lightly floured surface. Knead for a minute or two and divide in two and flatten them into two large ovals. 

Transfer to a large baking sheet and using a pair of lightly floured scissors cut diagonal slashes right through the dough. Using your fingers open up the slashes until they At least 2 ½ cm wide.

Transfer to a baking sheet and put the baking sheet into a warm place and leave to prove for 30 minutes. 

Either drizzle little olive oil over the top and sprinkle with rock salt or scatter with grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 450ºF -230ºC - gas mark 8 for 15 to 20 minutes. 

Wrap in a clean tea towel and serve.


Franny’s Pickled Ramps (Wild Garlic)

Makes 2 cups

450g (1lb) late season ramps (wild garlic) with well-developed bulbs

112mls (4fl oz) white wine vinegar

55ml (2fl oz) moscato vinegar or (see note)

Trim the hairy roots from the ramps. Separate the bulbs from the greens; reserve the greens for another use. Rinse the bulbs under warm running water and pat dry.

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegars, sugar and salt and bring to a simmer. Stir in the ramps, reduce the heat to low, and return the liquid to a simmer.

Let stand, stirring occasionally until cool.

Transfer the ramps and liquid to an airtight container; the pickles  will keep in the refrigerator for up to three months.

Note: For a cheater’s moscato vinegar substitute, whisk together 112mls (4fl oz) apple cider vinegar, 2 ½ teaspoons honey and ¼ teaspoon balsamic vinegar.


Ballymaloe Cookery SchoolOnce again this year, the Ballymaloe Cookery School in East Cork has a great programme of cookery courses for all interests and abilities running throughout 2013. Ranging from a relaxing visit to sit in on an afternoon cookery demonstration to a week long ‘Intensive Introductory Course’.

Sitting in the middle of a 100 acre organic farm the Ballymaloe Cookery School provides its students not only with a life skill learnt under the expert tutelage of their very capable teachers but also a place to relax and unwind from the stresses and strains of normal everyday life. The cottage accommodation available onsite for residential courses consists of a collection of delightful converted outbuildings which have been transformed over the years by the Allens, and other accommodation is available locally for the short courses.


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