An Irish Chef in France

Martin and Sile Dwyer’s Chambre d’Hôte in the Languedoc will remain closed for the 2021 season. But delicious food is always a highlight in the Dwyer household and afternoon visitors may be lucky enough to be offered Martin’s own version of that crunchy classic, Biscotti, with their tea… 

So life in France comes back together slowly, but our decision to remain closed until 2022 has given us a wonderful experience of freedom.

The trouble is that when one has spent most of one’s life catering for people’s dinner it is difficult to stop catering altogether - you come up against a sort of culinary cold turkey.

I have come up with a solution to this problem by resurrecting some of my simple confectionary skills which I can then offer my occasional afternoon callers.

Cakes, usually have a fairly limited shelf life so they need eating up fairly speedily and therefore if you want a little treat which will last well in a tin between callers ( without giving us the need to scoff them all) you cannot beat the Italian Biscotti.

Biscotti, (in French Bis Cuit) means twice cooked, but most of the French Petits Gateaux nowadays, like the ones we cook in Ireland, are only cooked once. The Italian version, still cooked twice, has the advantage of producing a biscuit which is very crisp and lasts a long time in a tin ( thus saving the hosts teeth and sugar levels.)

My version of the original Italian recipe calls for Dark Chocolate and Stem Ginger as well as the more usual Hazelnuts. I also prefer to chop the chocolate into rough chips myself, that way you can use much darker varieties than those kinds made into chips.( it is also nice to get a different sized piece in each biscuit)

Ginger and Chocolate Biscotti

110g butter, at room temperature
180g soft light brown sugar
Grated zest of two oranges
2 eggs
320g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ tsp salt
100g dark chocolate, chopped roughly into chips
100g peeled hazelnuts, halved
100g stem ginger in syrup, cubed

Set oven at 175 C.
Beat the butter and sugar and the orange zest together until light and creamy.
Add in the eggs, one at a time and beat well together.
Sieve the flour, the baking powder and the salt together and fold in thoroughly, and then fold in the chocolate chips, hazelnuts and the diced ginger.
Divide the mixture in two and, on a floured board, form two rolls roughly 30cm long and about 5cm diameter.
Put these onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake at the set temperature for 22 minutes.
Take out and leave to cool.
Cut these rolls into 1½ cm slices and again, put on baking paper on a tray (you will need a second lined tray now) and bake at the same temperature for 15 minutes - they should be golden brown.
Cool on a rack. They keep well in a tin - if you can persuade people not to steal them.

Martin Dwyer started cooking professionally over 40 years ago in the legendary “Snaffles Restaurant” in Dublin. After a time in a Relais Chateau in Anjou and in “The Wife of Bath” in Kent, he opened his own acclaimed restaurant, “Dwyers”, in Waterford in 1989. In 2004 he sold this and moved south to France where he and his wife Síle bought and restored an old presbytery in a village in the Languedoc. They now run Le Presbytère as a French style Chambre d’Hôte. Martin however is far too passionate about food to give up cooking so they now enjoy serving dinner to their customers on the terrace of Le Presbytère on warm summer evenings. Martin runs occasional cookery courses in Le Presbytère and Síle’s brother Colm does week long Nature Strolls discovering the Flora and Fauna of the Languedoc.
Le Presbytère can be seen at:;


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