Amazing Orange & Almond Cake

Sponge cake...hmmmnn...I like it on the day, called Victoria, dressed with raspberry jam and whipped cream. But, that is where my love affair with sponge ends. I will never not love this Claudia Roden recipe, it stays moist for days and you can jazz it up with chocolate ganache if it's for a special occasion...i.e you feel like really treating yourself. Did I mention that it is gluten and dairy free?

What you need;

  • 2 large oranges (preferably organic because you're gonna eat the skin!)
  • 6 free range eggs
  • 250g ground almonds
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder

What you need to do;

  • scrub the oranges if they aren't organic boil them for 2 hours, remove pips when cooled
  • turn oven on to 170' fan oven/ 190' conventional /gas mark 5
  • prepare a 23cm round cake tin, grease and line
  • whizz up the oranges with a hand blender or in a magimix, add the eggs whizz some more
  • mix your almonds, sugar and baking powder
  • add wet to dry pour into prepared tin
  • bake for about an hour, (check at 45 mins cover top with foil if it's getting too much colour)
  • serve with coffee, tea or a glass of lemonade
  • you can use 2 lemons or one pink grapefruit instead of one of the oranges, or use blood oranges


Braised Short Ribs

Meat....meat on the bone....meat on the bone, cooked for hours....meat one the bone, cooked for hours, with wine and stock. It's all good, but, sometimes life is tough, shit happens, people let you down, you let people down, you have expectations and the unexpected happens. In darker times, I find food even more comforting, it's the constant, I'm in control and I'll go back for thirds if I feel like it. Being able to cook, even simple meals, is empowering. Being able to nourish yourself, when you need it most, even if the person you used to share with isn't there anymore and you're swallowing sobs between fork fulls... it is still empowering.

Cooking this dish (for 4 hours) reminded me that time is the thing, low and slow and your meat will fall off the bone and melt in your mouth. Don't force things, with time the light will start to creep in and overtake the darkness, feed yourself plenty of loving kindness and your heart will mend itself...and you will melt in someones mouth again ...and the tears... will be tears of laughter.

Here's a little video of this recipe


  • 150g pancetta
  • 8 x beef short ribs
  • 3 x onions sliced
  • celery 2-3 sticks chopped
  • carrots 2-3 chopped
  • 1 x red pepper diced
  • 1 x yellow pepper diced
  • 1 x fresh red chilli
  • 200ml red wine
  • 150 ml beef stock
  • 1 x tin tomatoes
  • sprig rosemary
  • a few sprigs thyme
  • 3 x bay leaves
  • 1 x cinamon stick
  • 3 x large pieces of orange zest
  • salt and pepper


  • turn oven on to 150'C, 140' for fan, gas 2, 300'F
  • try and cook this in a heavy cast iron pan 
  • trim the ribs of any excess fat
  • brown the pancetta, then brown the ribs giving a generous sprinkling of salt, set aside
  • saute the onions and chilli for 5 mins
  • add the other veggies saute for 5 mins
  • add the wine, simmer for 3/4 mins 
  • add the stock and tomatoes, herbs, orange and cinamon
  • add pancetta and the ribs, taste for seasoning and adjust
  • cook for 3-4 hours in oven with lid on
  • serve with mashed potato or plenty of crusty bread...and a large glass of wine!



Buttery Mushrooms & Sourdough

Autumn -my favourite season, such a great time for food and especially for mushrooms. I remember as a child picking field mushrooms, seeking out the white tops amongst the green grass, competing with my siblings about who could find the most. Racing inside and popping them on top of the solid fuel cooker, with a little sprinkle of salt and pepper, waiting and waiting ...and then finally hearing the sizzle as some of the juice would land on the stove top. Gently we would lift them off and with too few cooling blows, we'd start munching on our treasure. Mushrooms a la stove top was probably the first thing I ever 'cooked', now I can also cook toast... which is useful, never underestimate a delicious piece of toast.


Pan fry with lots of butter and thyme...add a poached egg, for brunch, lunch or a light dinner.

The Open Door Pop Up @Little Bird

'Autumn... the year's last , loveliest smile' 

This beautiful technicolour film is about to reach the end of it's reel. Don't despair The Open Door is busy planning a Pop Up evening in the warm and cosy surrounds of Little Bird Cafe in Portobello. Come join us on Saturday 3rd December, as we celebrate seasonal, earthy delights with a feast of food and fun.


apple and winter spice

beetroot cured salmon, horseradish and pickles

celeriac, Kanturk black pudding and hazelnut

oxtail, capers and leaves

clementine ice

spiced pudding and custard

Cost €35 - Wine, tea/coffee and soft drinks available to purchase on the night - this is not  a BYO event.

Vegetarian option available with prior notice.


The Open Door Pop Up


EMAIL aoife@theopendoorfood to be added to the mailing list

A lot has happened in the past 12 months...I milked a cow, I made butter and I lived on a tropical island, cooking for models (and learned that they don't in fact live on celery and air but are fiends for Nutella and Irish butter). The biggest highlight, however, has to be the twelve weeks I spent at Ballymaloe Cookery School, where I picked up more than a few hints and tips! But, enough about the past, let's look to the future instead, in particular Saturday 13th August, The Open Door Supper Club is about to do a Pop Up in Dublin 8. As always, I will be sourcing beautiful seasonal produce, whispering to animals as I forage and concocting delicious home made tipples... needless to say, there is much excitement. may have some questions:

How do I book? First come first served and places are limited - to reserve your seat please email: . As soon as I am able to confirm your space you will receive an email.

Where & When? This Pop Up event will take place in Dublin 8 on Saturday August 13th at 8pm, finishing up at 11pm. Exact location will be revealed closer to the date.

Can I bring my own wine/beer?  Yes you can. You will also receive a complimentary welcome drink, endless water on tap and there will be San Pellegrino fizzy pop/water available to buy on the night. There is no corkage fee.

What will it cost? €45 - When you arrive you will have a drink placed in your hand, there will be small savoury tasties, followed by a starter plate, a palette cleanser, the main act, the sweet complete, tea/espresso/cocoa and a "wafer thin mint!" 

What should I wear? Whatever the heck you like, fancy dress isn't just for Halloween.

What will I eat? There is a set menu, subject to change depending upon availability of ingredients. Please alert me, when booking, to any special dietary requirements you may have and I will do my best to cater for you. Veggie option available upon request. Menu will be announced a few days in advance along with suggested wine pairings.

We are very much looking forward to cooking for you.


6 Weeks At Cookery School

Time flies when you're having fun and I'm already experiencing 'pre-sad' knowing that in the blink of an eye this adventure will end. But it won't really be the end because it's really just the beginning. The skills you are given here at Ballymaloe Cookery School you will hone over the years and the outlook on life & food will never leave you, because you can't unlearn this -it'd be like going back to instant coffee after drinking the good stuff -you just wouldn't want to. 


You feel saturated after the first fortnight and the idea of extra curricular can seem daunting on top of an already busy schedule, but you remind yourself that you'll never be here again -so carpe diem. 

Milking Jersey Cows  -peachy creamy fun

Meet the always smiling Eileen at the dairy at 7.30, she's from Cork, so are the cows, they're sound ladies the cows and they like a bit of chat so don't be shy. Jane (the cow) gave me a lovely glass of warm milk to wet my whistle.


Dawn Chorus Walk- Getting up at 4.30am to go for a bird walk with local ornithologist Denis was admittedly a struggle but had it's rewards...still not sure if I'm hearing a robin or a great tit ....or is it a blackbird.

Fishing- Caught nothing, got shat on by sea gull and felt sea sick but hey that's life sometimes.

Making your own butter -that is all.

Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine 2015


Where to begin...? was an amazing and inspirational weekend. Speakers came from all around the globe and people travelled from the four corners of Ireland to watch, listen, taste and learn from the cream of the crop. There were a myriad of cooking demos, talks on soil, forgaing workshops, natural wine tastings, kids time, food stalls and so much more. It is a cliché phrase but there really is something for everyone at Lit Fest

This was my first time attending and what really struck me was that there were no divisions between the high profile speakers and those that came with friends and families to savour the event.  It was extremely inclusive and not at all exclusive -which is part of the Ballymaloe ethos.


The Slow Food movement -if you like food it's a great way to meet producers and other foodies.

Some things I enjoyed were-

Alice Waters and her beautiful story about how Chez Panisse was born.  Her restaurant in California  has had a set menu for 44 years and focuses on using the finest, local and seasonal produce available to them. The story of how they partnered up with Bob Cannard, a local farmer, where the Chez Panisse staff are part of the 'production line' (dirty word!)  planting seeds for vegetables which they will later cook with love in the restaurant kitchen. Alice also started a very noteworthy project called Edible School Yard which allows children to learn and eat well through growing and cooking their own produce at school - a truly transformational way of educating the next generation. 

Also had the pleasure of going to a beer tasting presented by Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewing Company - where we tasted 6 very different types of beer and subsequently ended up quite tipsy at 2 in the afternoon.

Note to self -eat a substantial breakfast before going to a craft beer talk.  I like beer but I never knew beer could taste so damn good or that 'horse blanket' is a valid term for describing a flavour note! If you happen to find yourself in NYC go pay them a visit.


Hanging out with April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig -another salt of the earth, super inspirational lady, who despite the Michelin Star accolade and James Beard Award is incredibly down to earth. 


Eating amazing food-

Raw food -a little detox was required after the night before!

Raw food -a little detox was required after the night before!

The Gubeen ribs were in high demand and had sold out by Sunday afternoon- get in there quick next year!

The Gubeen ribs were in high demand and had sold out by Sunday afternoon- get in there quick next year!

Awesome sculptures by the Queens of Neon

Awesome sculptures by the Queens of Neon

Books in a boat, as you do, in the book shop!

Books in a boat, as you do, in the book shop!

Foodie Fashonista!

Foodie Fashonista!

A competition for local kids provided some lovely art works in the loos!

A competition for local kids provided some lovely art works in the loos!

Everyone who was part of creating Lit Fest 2015 should be really proud. Personally I can't wait for next year, but I'll have to -roll on May 20-22nd. 2016.