In folklore watercress was said to alleviate depression and increase a person’s intelligence

In season now, watercress is great eaten raw in a salad or blanched briefly and blended in to a soup

Versatile: rhubarb is perfect in pies  and  also with seafood. Photograph: iStock

Vegetable is often used in pies but works surprisingly well when paired with seafood

One of our farmers plays Lyric FM to his vegetables to help them grow. Photograph: iStock

Studies have shown how certain music will make us eat or drink more, or help us digest

It seems the French are too blame for putting salt and pepper together. Photograph: Getty Images

It should be ground freshly – but should the steak be seasoned before or after frying?

Pan con Tomate, a cold tapas plate of toasted  bread, fresh grated tomato, garlic, olive oil and sea salt. Photograph: Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald.

Bread with tomato is a very simple combination but it proves itself as an exciting dish

Bread and butter pudding appears in many Irish cook books of the last hundred years

JP McMahon: I was six at the time and a far cry from the chef I am today

‘Acidity is acidity, whether it’s in a Big Mac or hand dived scallops with last year’s pickled elderflower’

I’m not a fan of fast food but that doesn’t mean I’m beyond learning from it

Don’t restrict yourself to meat or fish, try cooking a carrot or a leek over fire.

Cooking with fire is one of the greatest pleasures

It seems the Normans brought lentils to Ireland but they could have arrived earlier with the Vikings or early Christian settlers. Photograph: iStock

JP McMahon: Lentils get many mentions in literary history, from Aristophanes to James Joyce 

It’s never too young to learn about food. Food poverty and a lack of food education are the leading contributors in many health problems

If the answer is yes, then let’s value it enough as a subject to teach to our children

Jerusalem artichokes hail from South America and are part of the sunflower family. Photograph: Basak Gurbuz Derma/Getty Images

They’re not from Jerusalem and they’re not artichokes, but they are delicious

Fermentation is an age-old process of preservation and production. Photograph: Getty Images

There’s more to fermentation than preservation and flavour

For the main course, try a whole turbot. Photograph: iStock

It may not sound as appetising and gluttonous as devouring birds and beasts but a seafood Christmas is something we should all con(...)

Try celeriac, sliced up thinly and dressed with a mayonnaise, and smoked salmon. Photograph: Frank Miller

I’m trying to think of winter salads that will bring a bit of warmth or at least fill us up more

Tiramisu: a lavish combination of mascarpone, coffee, sweet wine and lady fingers

Food’s relationship with sex has a long history, from the erotic aspects of oysters to the supposed aphrodisiac qualities of choco(...)

Making soup with vegetables and leftover chicken is easy and delicious. Photograph: iStock

In past generations a chicken carcass was another meal, not just bones to be disposed of 

Venison stew: perfect winter  food. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

JP McMahon: Try this wonderful meat – it’s the time of year for it

“Several recent articles suggest goat is the new lamb, and its consumption is more sustainable than any other meat.” Photograph: Getty Images

Anything you do with lamb, you can do with goat: stew, fry, braise, roast and curry. So get out there and find yourself some

“Because apricots have a sweet-and-sour quality, they marry well with both savoury and sweet food stuffs.” Photograph: iStock 
Fruit for thought

Now that autumn is over, it’s time to use up what’s left of its bounty

We have the best farmhouse cheese in the world. Get out there and explore it.

How these cheese makers turned the tide on a commodity culture of cheese strings and spuriously named cheddar is beyond me

Incorporating fallen apples into an autumnal   pie or cake is the best way to make use of them, even if they have the odd bruise. Photograph: iStock

JP McMahon: As long as apples have not begun to rot, they can be used for baking

Bulbs to light up a dish: we Irish have traditionally used wild garlic  from the woods in our food.

Once considered the poor man’s choice, it is now a transformative staple for most of us

Monkfish: ugly but delicious. Photograph: Getty Images

Curried monkfish took nation by storm in the 1990s, leading to a brief abandonment of cod

September is traditionally a time for fishing mackerel in Ireland.

The right slaughtering can really help with freshness

For blackberry jam, I always go with one part sugar to one part fruit, so a kilo of each. Photograph: iStock

We should teach our children what a blackberry looks like, tastes like, and how to cook it 

Seaweed: a nutritious and delicious food. Photograph: iStock

JP McMahon: This ancient food is rich in all the stuff that could help ward off disease

The two oyster festivals taking place in Galway this month  – Clarinbridge and Galway city – celebrate the arrival of our native son

Many Irish people don’t like oysters – native or Pacific – and that is a tragedy

Fish doesn’t need to be cooked by a magician to make it delectable. Photograph: Getty Images

JP McMahon: In Ireland we’re obsessed with beef, but fish is the future

Raw cep tops are beautiful, especially sliced super thin. Photograph: iStock

Fresh porcini are harder to come across than dried ones, but it’s worth seeking them out

 Jamie Oliver: There is no absolute law of food. It knows no boundaries. We cannot stop food travelling.

Food has always followed people, and this is perhaps its beauty

Versatile: ginger. Photograph: iStock

Ginger is now less used here for baking and more for cooking curries, ramen and bone broths

Spices have been part of Irish cooking since the Middle Ages. Photograph: iStock

Spices have been a part of Irish cooking since the Vikings, and their influence lives on today

Wild salmon cured in fennel and beer.  Photograph Anita Murphy

Like our forebears we can still enjoy wild salmon, brown trout and (now sadly neglected) eel dishes

Barbecued oysters have a unique flavour. Photograph: iStock

It can’t always be steak and sausages – barbecued mussels, clams, oysters, prawns and lobster taste amazing

In Scotland they have the intelligence to allow hand-diving for scallops. Photograph: Getty

Instead, in Ireland, we can only dredge, which does serious damage to the seabed

Preserve us! Now is the time for green gooseberries, red strawberries, orange raspberries, blue blackcurrants, red cherries.

It’s a feast or famine with berries, currants and cherries but making them last longer is easy

Enjoy the courgette season with a little stir-frying, flame-grilling, slicing and dicing

For many of us in Ireland, frozen peas are all we’ve ever seen – this is our tragedy.

Peas work wonderfully with white fish but a classic alternative is ham hock

Mussels are a beautiful fast food, and I would happily eat them every day. Photograph: Artur Begel/iStock/Getty

We could still learn a lot from Anthony Bourdain’s moules marinière

Oyster ice cream. Photograph: Alfredo Russo

Oysters and seaweed should be our national food – saline ice cream is strange but superb

“Bacon and cabbage should always be sexy, they should always be there to remind us of our heritage, of our future.” Photograph: Getty Images

I love ham hock and cabbage. But not the kind your grandmother cooked. Not the noxious type

Beef tartare. Photograph: Getty

Would you order raw beef for breakfast?

A salad is no place for bananas. Photograph: iStock

Give me a chicken salad any day – but not the sad Caesar kind with mircowaved chicken you find everywhere

Nothing says summer quite like a dish of baby vegetables in a fresh dressing

Asparagus has been cooked since Egyptian times. Greeks and Romans ate it fresh when in season, and dried the vegetable for use in winter. Photograph: Getty Images

May is the month for this edible grass, a totem of brighter and hotter days

Wild flowers have begun to emerge. Try incorporating them into your meals. Photograph: iStock

But I love them in everything from salads to ice cream, and for making vinegar

Hold the potato: lots of places serve chips with schnitzel, but it only needs salad and pickles. Photograph: iStock

Everyone from Jamie Oliver to René Redzepi and Thorsten Schmidt is serving a version of this Austrian classic

Cava Bodega in Galway celebrates 10 years in business. The chef shares his top tapas

The structure of morels reminds me of a Gothic church. Photograph: Getty Images

Morels, with their unique honeycomb-like appearance, are one of nature’s true beauties

Woodruff tea is an ancient Irish herbal infusion for many maladies

Regarded as a weed by some, this plant makes a lovely tea or pairs well with asparagus

garlic

‘Foraging now is extremely hip and sexy – as opposed to being a necessity’

The cross on the bun signified the Crucifixion while the spices in the bun pointed to the embalming of Christ

Fish pies don’t seem to as fashionable as they once were and are almost consigned to that status of a ready meal now. Photograph: iStock

This fish dish is as easy as pie

Dried food, such as rice, pasta and pulses are vital for keeping us fed. Photograph: Getty Images

Nearly all food bought during the storm was processed with ready meals and bread most popular

There’s loads of beautiful fish and shellfish in season, particularly cockles and clams, that work well with curly kale

We forget that each time we eat, we owe our lives to the many who grow food

‘March is a wonderful time to go seaweed picking’

Go to the shore and forage for this natural wonder – then get cooking

Wild leeks

JP McMahon: It’s been a long winter of root vegetables

Tomato sauce, another food that suffers because we all buy those expensive ready-made sauces full of hidden salt and sugar

Children love cooking and the tactile mess that evolves from combining ingredients

Bo Bech’s avocado, caviar and almond oil, from his restaurant Geist in Copenhagen. Photograph: Instagram/bobech

Take inspiration from the simple genius of Danish chef Bo Bech

Crispy potato with beer beurre blanc and sea lettuce.

If we are condemned to be a country of potatoes and beer then we need to make sure we produce the best potatoes and best beer in t(...)

We have made some inroads into this anti-fish way of thinking, and it seems now we appreciate fish a little more. It features more on menus and shopping lists. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

February is a wonderful time for eating fish, but be aware of where it comes from

Do vegetarian truly understand the effect of eating quinoa and avocado on the cost of human lives in countries such as Mexico and Bolivia?

JP McMahon: I quit vegetarianism after seven years. It’s a diet with ethical issues of its own

Chef Paul Bocuse showing off his tattoo. Photograph: Paul Bocuse/Facebook

Bocuse, one of the masters of French gastronomy, has died at the age of 91. Thornton reminisces about working with him and McMahon(...)

Illustration: Getty Images

Venture out of your comfort zone, get some good Irish seafood and cook it over an open flame

A  head of cauliflower rubbed in a red spicy sauce  in a cast-iron pan ready to be roasted

A vegetable-forward dish that I like to cook at this time of the year is roasted cauliflower with hazelnuts and lardo

Just make a standard ice-cream recipe - and then start experimenting

JP McMahon: Savoury will take over from sweet when it comes to desserts

Honey-glazed roasted carrots. Blanching carrots and parsnips and then placing them in an oven tray ready for roasting puts you in a good place.

If you can’t have a glass of wine while preparing Christmas dinner you are doing something wrong

I recommend making your mash the morning of Christmas or even the night before
Tuber belles

I prefer to make mash at Christmas. If you prefer duck fat roast potatoes, then do them. But you don’t need both

'Tiramisu is something I make with the kids and they enjoy the act of assembling it while eating as much of the cream as they can.' Photograph: Getty Images/Moment

While we do have Christmas cake in our house, I have never understood its appeal

Before soda bread we had a great variety of bread, all based on the sourdough method. Photograph: Getty Images

The invention of sourdough in Ireland is credited to a woman who went for a wander with her lover

We should be worried about industrial farming across the pond

There are so many ways to show your appreciation of beef, in particular the slow and long ways that induce those mouth watering um(...)

Along with making your own ice-cream and your own butter, making pasta is something we all should be able to do

Anybody can make delicious fresh pasta from scratch. Here’s how

Stacks of cut peat in Roundstone Bog in Connemara. Photograph: Getty Images

JP McMahon:Turf-smoked salmon, turf-smoked beef, turf-smoked butter; these are things that for me are distinctly Irish

Antonio Carluccio pictured outside his restaurant Carluccio’s on Dawson Street, Dublin. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Michelin-starred chef JP McMahon on the influence of the late Italian chef, Antonio Carluccio

‘Pumpkins and squash abound in Ireland at this time and as chefs and cooks we normally don’t give them enough credit or time in the kitchen’

JP McMahon: Whatever happened to treating vegetables with the same respect as our meat and fish?

Mussels with bacon

Great pairings include pork with shellfish, prawns with rhubarb, and cockles and lamb

Celeriac’s turnip-sized round root  is juicy and beautiful to eat raw or cooked

Don't be put off by the gnarly appearance of celeriac, it can make smooth, delicious dishes

Grilling with an open flame is a technique we shouldn’t just reserve for our meat and fish. Photograph: Getty Images

Grilling vegetables over a direct flame gives them a beautiful bittersweet umami flavour

Make your own sauce simple, especially for chicken dishes.

Spices, vegetables, tomatoes, stock and chicken all go in to the one pot, writes JP McMahon

Pigeon in its natural environment: served with  autumn vegetables, such as   local squash or wild Irish mushrooms

Ireland has a rich tradition of roasting wild fowl – pity pigeons are so hard to come by

Blackberries are beautiful picked straight of the bush

Seasonal supper: Blackberries and venison tartare work exceedingly well and are a great introduction to the beauties of wild food

Wouldn’t it be nice one day to actually enter a cafe and smell streaky rashers on the grill? Photograph: Getty Images

Ireland, once king of the rashers, is now filled with cafes serving pre-cooked, rubbery bacon

While visiting top restaurants in England and Denmark, all scallops arrived alive in their shells

It’s not illegal in other European countries – so why here?

Seasonal supper: for the ideal medieval meal

Cava Bodega fishcakes: they’re simple to make but of course the fact they’re deep-fried and served with lemon mayonnaise makes them more desirable. Photograph: Julia Dunin

Don’t be put off if you are unable to buy salted ling– it’s very easy to make

The simplicity of the recipes attests to a great respect for the reader

Flicking through a 1949 book, what struck was how modern the recipes seemed

Courgettes make a wonderful soup and are great raw in a summer salad with goat’s curd

Seasonal Supper: When in need of inspiration around vegetables I turn to Antonio Carluccio

Keep your ragu simple: onion, garlic and maybe carrots. Passata is good to use for your sauce.

Lasagna is always down to good-quality ingredients: use the best and you’ll get the best

Authentic paella is made with seafood, though chicken and chorizo versions have become popular

People from the Spanish city regard dish as one of their most important cultural symbols

A leg of lamb scored and  sprinkled with  milled nori (seaweed). Photograph: JP McMahon

Irish lamb has a wonderful distinct flavour and combines well with many types of seaweed

Turbot: delicious baked in the oven. Photograph: Getty Images/Cultura RF

For an alternative Sunday lunch or dinner, try a whole roast turbot

The taste of summer: I never imagined one could eat just tomatoes and toast for breakfast. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

I never imagined one could eat just tomatoes and toast for breakfast

Homemade lemonade: for a twist, add some fennel. Fennel and lemon is a really good combination

A simple recipe for a bitter-sweet thirst-quencher

Cherries, like any fruit, need heat and warmth to produce sugars

Fresh or pickled, cherries go wonderfully with goats’ cheese

Langoustines or what most of us call Dublin Bay Prawns. Photograph: JP McMahon

While langoustines are a little more work than their soft shell equivalent, they are very rewarding

Since the asparagus season has ended, you can supplement them as a side dish for your fish or beef

Seasonal Supper: garlic scapes have taken the food world by a slow storm

Trout - simple and delicious

Seasonal Suppers: Lured by the mayfly, this most traditional of Irish meals is perfect right now

'Every May and June, we pick enough garlic to keep us going for the year.'

It is one of our native herbs and we should all experience its beauty

Elderflowers work wonderfully with poached white fish such as halibut or turbot

Seasonal Supper: Pickle this flower, or use for seasoning roast chicken or fish

Raw wild salmon is a beautiful treat, dressed with a little extra virgin rapeseed oil and some apple cider vinegar. Photograph: Tegra Stone Nuess/Getty Images

Seasonal suppers: with wild salmon, keep it simple, and don't ruin it in the frying pan

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