Artichokes & Butter


Despite the fact that artichokes grow extremely well in Ireland, I didn't have the pleasure of "m-eating" one until I moved to the big city of Dublin (wink). They have a sort of dinosaur/alien like quality, in feel and appearance. I would like to shake hands with the first person who persevered and removed all the tough, inedible, spiky outer leaves and eventually reached the delicious heart of this beast. 

We always steamed them whole and peeled the leaves, dipping them into melted butter as we began to reach the center. Lately though, by the very fact of their thriving in the garden and therefore producing almost (ssshhh...) too many, I've taken to peeling them quickly and paring down to the heart, dropping them into a pot of simmering lemony water until tender, followed by a non-optional baptism in liquid butter with a generous squeeze of lemon. I then walk around the house with the warm saucepan and a spare fork, stopping to share with anybody who crosses my path. The path is filled with smiles, mostly because I fought the prickly beast, tended to it's cooking and now the heart is offered freely.

The red variety have spikes but are considered tastier.

The red variety have spikes but are considered tastier.


  • a couple of artichokes 2-3 for 2 people, for a pre-dinner snack
  • lots of butter
  • fresh black pepper & salt
  • 2x lemons


  • get a large bowl of cold water, squeeze one lemon in to prevent the artichoke going brown from the air
  • put a pan of water on and bring it to a simmer
  • peel away the outer leaves, watching out for little thorns found on some varieties
  • when you reach the softer central leaves (see top photo) slice the top off
  • using a paring knife carefully work down to the solid heart
  • scrape away the soft hairs with a teaspoon
  • place in the cold lemony water while you continue prepping
  • when they're all done, cut any lager ones into quarters or thirds
  • simmer until tender
  • melt butter in a small pot, add lemon juice and zest if unwaxed, s&p -taste and adjust to your liking
  • enjoy straight from the pan...or a bowl at the table
  • you can also eat the younger ones raw in a salad

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.