Georgina Campbell's Cookery Feature - Beef Up Your Kitchen Bookshelf

Oyster Gastronomy (paperback, €15)

There’s always a rush to the bookshops coming up to Christmas, but this is a calmer time to add to our collections - especially if we’re lucky enough to have book vouchers to use. You can never have too many good books about food, and - like the ones that this month’s recipes come from - the best ones can inspire us to travel and get the full experience too.

The Connemara publishers Artisan House, for example, came up with a brilliant idea as their Oyster Gastronomy (paperback, €15) combines the talents of two of their best known authors, Mairin Ui Chomain (author of a number of titles, including the original Irish Oyster Cuisine, published by A&A Farmar), and Michael O’Meara (Sea Gastronomy: Fish & Shellfish of the North Atlantic).

Between them they have produced a lovely collection of accessible recipes ranging from homely dishes that would make great pub grub such as Oyster Casserole or Oyster and Stout Beef Pie (see below) to sophisticated Seaweed Steamed Oysters with Japanese-style Dressing or Roasted Oysters with Zingy and Sweet Quince Jelly.

And the photography is shared between two masters too - Michael O’Meara himself, who is well known for his excellent seafood photography, and the late Walter Pfeiffer, long renowned as one of Ireland’s top food photographers, who contributed to Mairin’s original Irish Oyster Cuisine.

Then there are the background pieces - the informative Introduction by BIM’s Richard Donnelly, the profiles of some of Ireland’s best known producers of both native and gigas (Pacific) oysters, the sauces and accompaniments - and Betty Murphy’s beverage notes too.

Running to just 128 pages, this is not a major tome - but it is surprisingly comprehensive and makes an interesting read as well as an inspiring reference that will make you want see this fascinating food in its natural, and very beautiful, environment.

Oyster and Stout beef pie

Recipe: Oyster and Stout beef pie

Serves 4

12 oysters, shells removed, juices strained and reserved
2 tablespoons plain flour
black pepper, freshly ground
675g rib beef, cubed
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1-2 onions, finely chopped
225 g mushrooms, chopped 450 ml stout
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
210g ready-made puff pastry


Season the flour with salt and pepper. Toss the beef in the flour. Heat the oil in a large, heavy frying pan. Once the oil is hot, add the beef to the pan a little at a time and seal. (Be careful not to overcrowd the pan as this will only create a stewing process.)

Remove the beef from the pan. Fry the onions and mushrooms until soft and then return the meat to the pan.

Add the stout, Worcestershire sauce and oyster juices and season with salt and pepper. Mix well, cover and simmer until the meat is tender (about 1½ hours).

Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Add the oysters.

Preheat the oven to 200 °C / 400 °F / gas mark 6.

Grease a deep pie dish. Pour the mixture into the pie dish.

Cover with the pastry, leaving a slight overhang around the edge of the dish. Crimp the edges firmly and cut an air vent in the centre of the pastry.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes.

Reduce the heat to 180 °C / 350 °F / gas mark 4 and bake for a further 30 minutes until the meat is heated through. Serve while hot.


The Carlow Cook Book (hardback, €12.50)

From a book inspired by and produced in the West of Ireland on the Wild Atlantic Way, to one celebrating the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East: The Carlow Cook Book (hardback, €12.50) is published by Carlow Tourism with the support of a number of agencies including Carlow County Council, and edited by Irish Food Writers’ Guild member, Anne Marie Carroll, who - along with James Fennell of Burtown House (renowned for his ‘Vanishing Ireland’ series, with author Turtle Bunbury), Joe Keogh Photography and Rory Moore Photography - also contributed to the imagery.

Bringing together the excellent and very diverse food and drink producers and suppliers of this lovely fertile county and the wide ranging restaurants, cafés, pubs and hotels that transform them into delicious dishes, this is a book with real heart.

And, while the recipes are supplied by a large number of contributors - using products ranging from organic eggs, jams and cheddar cheese to snails, chocolate and craft beer, gin and whiskey - every one has been tested by Anne Marie.

Braised Beef Cheek & O’Hara’s Stout Casserole

Recipe: Braised Beef Cheek & O’Hara’s Stout Casserole

This recipe comes from Lennons @VISUAL, the stylishly casual café-restaurant at the wonderful contemporary gallery, exhibition space and venue that is the cultural heart of Carlow Town.

Run by Ross Byrne since VISUAL opened, the restaurant is on the lower ground floor - overlooking the cathedral and with plenty of outdoor dining space for warm weather, it’s a great place to enjoy seasonal food (and drink) that is deeply rooted in the area.

4 beef cheeks, trimmed (ask your butcher nicely and he will do this for you)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp The Soul of Crete olive oil
50g plain flour
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
500ml (a full bottle) O'Hara's stout
500ml beef stock
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme
4 sticks celery, chopped into finger length pieces
3 carrots, peeled and cut into thirds
2 turnip, chopped into large chunks
Flat leaf parsley, chopped

to prep

Begin by preparing the beef. A day before you intend to serve, season the beef cheeks with salt and pepper, cover tightly and refrigerate for 24 hours. This step is not essential if you are pushed for time, but it ensures an even seasoning throughout the meat.

to cook

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan).

Remove the beef cheeks from the fridge and heat the oil on high in a heavy frying pan.

Toss the beef cheeks in flour and when the oil is hot, lay them in the pan and sear on all sides.

Once seared transfer the cheeks to a casserole dish that has a tight fitting lid.

In the same frying pan, add the onion and fry over a moderate heat until caramelised. Pour in the O'Hara's stout and stir. Let the liquid reduce by about half and then pour into the casserole dish.

Add the beef stock, bay leaves and thyme and bring to the boil. Put the lid on the casserole dish and place in the oven for 2 hours.

After 2 hours add the carrots, celery and turnip and return to the oven for 1 additional hour. Stir occasionally during cooking, adding a little water if there is too much evaporation.

Cook until the vegetables are softened and glazed and the beef cheeks are very tender.

Top with the chopped parsley and serve immediately with colcannon made with scallions and curly kale.

Suppliers: Fruit and vegetables from Carlow Farmers' Market, Carlow Town; Clonmore Meats, Clonmore, Co. Carlow; Sheehan's Pork and Bacon, Bennekerry, Co. Carlow; Carlow Brewing Company, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow; Walsh Whiskey Distillery, Royal Oak, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow. Carlow Farmhouse Cheese, Fenagh, Co. Carlow. For a full list of all suppliers please visit


Belfast On A Plate

Heading north, photographer David Pauley and Joanna Branniff’s Belfast On A Plate ( £25) is a celebration of the northern capital’s culinary coming of age.

Subtitled A Flavour of the City in Recipes and Stories - and featuring 20 of Belfast’s top restaurants, the people who have created them and the food they serve with such pride - it ‘describes the culinary journeys of the talented chefs and restaurateurs behind Belfast's gastronomic revolution’ and, through the stories and recipes of great restaurants like Deanes At Queens, Deanes Eipic, General Merchants, Hadskis, Home, James Street South, Mourne Seafood Bar, Ox, Saphyre, Shu, The Ginger Bistro, The Merchant Hotel, and The Muddlers Club, this beautifully produced book vividly illustrates the talent, diversity and energy of the city.

And, as Northern Ireland’s original media chef, Paul Rankin, says “…Belfast is in the top three provincial food cities in the UK and it's been up there for quite some time”. And it’s pretty well up there when compared to cities down south too - what a culinary gem this small island has become.

Zingy Beef With A Salad Of Watercress, Mint, Mango And Peanuts

Recipe: Zingy Beef With A Salad Of Watercress, Mint, Mango And Peanuts

This super warm salad comes from Simon McCance at his ever-popular city centre restaurant, The Ginger Bistro.

Serves 1

Core Ingredients

4 oz sirloin steak, trimmed
1 tsp olive oil
black pepper


1 garlic clove
a piece of pickled ginger
fresh chopped chilli to taste
1 dessertspoon light soy sauce
juice and zest 1 lime


handful of watercress
2 scallions
5-6 mint leaves
½ mango, peeled and sliced

To Serve

10-20 peanuts


1. For the Dressing, chop garlic, pickled ginger and chilli, mix together with lime zest to form a paste. Stir in soy and lime juice.

2. To make the Salad, mix watercress, scallions, mint and mango in a large bowl.

3. Lightly oil the steak and season. Cook in a very hot pan or barbecue to your liking, rest before carving into slices.


Dress the salad, add beef and mix together. Arrange on a serving plate and sprinkle with peanuts.


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