What Mary's going to do next

 

FOOD FILE:It seems the whole country is besotted with Mary Carney, winner of the first MasterChef Irelandtitle.

Filming of the series finished in August and the Waterford-born Eircom business manager had to keep the result a secret until the final programme aired. “It was very difficult having to keep it to myself. It was a life-changing experience, yet I couldn’t share it with anyone. I had become addicted to the adrenaline of the MasterChefpressure, so normal life seemed dull for a while,” she says. But she used the time to get her website, marycarney.net, up and running. It’s a gorgeous website, built by her husband Mike and using her own illustrations. You’ll find her lively blog there, as well as a recipe section where you can find out how to create her winning three-course menu. “My aim is to become an established food writer, sharing my ideas and recipes with a wider audience. My dream is to write a cookbook. I’m quite artistic, so I hope that I can translate this to my food.” You can catch Carney at this weekend’s Savour Kilkenny food festival, where she will be judging the event’s Master Chef cookery event along with Catherine Fulvio.

BOOK OF THE WEEK

‘River Cottage Veg Everyday’, published by Bloomsbury (£25)

The best endorsement for this new book is the vaguely familiar chap on the front cover. Could it be that this slim, smartly coiffed fellow is indeed Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall? He’s practically glowing with health and vitality, and it’s down to more than just a haircut. Keen to point out that he hasn’t become a vegetarian and is just eating more vegetables and less animal proteins, Hugh F-W says that in writing this book he has become a better cook: “I enjoy my cooking, and my eating, more than ever before. And that feels wonderful.”

THE BUZZ

Fiona Dillon @Hunterslodge1: Bringing all my eggs – from a quail to an ostrich – to @SavourKilkenny

Kirstie Allsopp @KirstieMAllsopp:Nicholas Mosse or Brixton Pottery, I love them both

Paul Flynn @paulflynnchef: Just off the phone with@stove28 he’s going to do a masterclass this winter

René Redzepi @ReneRedzepiNoma:Watercress and blackcurrants are the new tomato and basil

The big, sweet breakfast

Like the look of the breakfast pictured above? Well, before you reach for the ketchup bottle you might like to know that every element on the plate is sweet, not savoury. The fried egg is panna cotta and lemon curd, the streaky bacon is ginger snaps, the sausage is peanut butter sponge in caramelised rice paper, the hash brown is a panko brioche sandwich, the pudding is chocolate biscuit cake, and the beans are white chocolate-covered biscuits in a fruit coulis. If you’re thinking of emulating this extraordinary feat, you’ll find full instructions and recipes on the stasty.com website of the dish’s creator, Vicky McDonald, who has seen her work attract huge interest from online and traditional media outlets this week.

McDonald started her blog in February “as a way to keep track of all my recipes rather than keeping them in my old food-stained notebook”, and even before this week’s explosion of interest, it had already featured on prestigious online sites including Bon Appetit, Tastespotting, and Food Gawker.

Her breakfast dish was a labour intensive experiment. “It took a whole day to make the final plate, with a few evenings of trial and error beforehand. There were a lot of tasty disasters along the way.

“I work in RTÉ in a job that isn’t related to cooking, so it’s great to come home in the evening, put on some music and start cooking. I love dreaming up new ideas and experimenting with different recipes. If I’m not in the kitchen, I’m either reading old cook books or watching food programmes on TV,” she says.

Pots of natural flavour

Why is it that stock cubes made for the European market are infinitely superior to those available here? Of course, we should be making our own . . . but in reality we often reach for the cubes, so here’s an alternative that doesn’t involve a trip to the airport. The little pots of Knorr concentrated beef stock in jelly form are an excellent product, and the new herb variety just added to the range also hits the mark. The bay, thyme and rosemary-infused jellies are in supermarkets now, priced €2.89.

WEBWATCH: aneruditesybarite.com

The title of this food blog is a bit of a mouthful, but the writing is masterful. Malachy Geelan is a video producer and photographer who is also a keen cook. He says his blog gives him the perfect excuse to “eat out a lot, collect vintage cookbooks and experiment with new and unusual ingredients”. According to his partner, Sinéad Ryan of Presence PR, “He owns 12 types of salt.” And what’s wrong with that? Check out his recent treatise on pizza dough.

Chef with lofty ambitions

Patrick McLarnon, head chef at Brooks Hotel in Dublin, is also a forager, mushroom expert and keen allotment gardener. His enthusiasm for food that’s wild and free has turned his kitchen team into enthusiastic foragers. They have been collecting mushrooms, sorrel, sloes, haws and blackberries to use in a “wild” menu at Francesca’s restaurant in the hotel, which will run until mid-November. McLarnon grows a wide variety of herbs outside the back door of the hotel kitchen, and during the summer he cultivated lettuces, courgettes, runner beans and squash on the roof. “It was more difficult than I thought,” he says, “because to get water up to the roof I had to go through a window in a guest bedroom.” High occupancy rates mitigated against his enterprise this summer, but he says it’s an experiment he’d like to repeat.