Child-friendly ragu or bolognese sauce

JP McMahon: Comfort food is seen as sentimental, but that’s what we need right now

Photograph: iStock

Lentils are a great meat substitute. Here is how to make a lentil pasty

Bon appetit: just one butterflied turkey breast should feed four to six people, depending how large the breast is and what else you are serving with it. Photograph: iStock

Don’t worry if the bird you ordered is now too big for your smaller family gathering

Baking or roasting a fish whole is actually a lot easier than pan frying a fillet. Photograph: iStock

Across Europe, seafood and shellfish appear prominently on the dinner table

Like other seasonal vegetables, fruits and nuts, sweet chestnuts pair well with other foods that are also in season. Photograph: iStock/Getty Images

We have relegated the use of chestnuts to the Christmas period but they are so versatile

What to do with celery? Photograph: iStock

There’s an easy way and a hard way – both bring the humble celeriac to divine heights

Brussels sprouts, the perennial Christmas vegetable, go perfectly with seafood. Photograph: iStock

This recipe may seem unusual, but it brings Brussels sprouts and mussels together wonderfully

Cooking duck, whether it’s pan frying a breast, confitting a leg, or roasting one whole, is not any more difficult than cooking chicken. Photgraph: iStock

Silverhill, Skeaghanore and Regan’s should be as well-known as our sports stars

Delicious: mutton curry. Photograph: iStock

JP McMahon: Mutton curry first found its way into Irish households in the 18th century

Jerusalem artichoke  works great in risotto. Photograph: iStock

Many great chefs, including Gordon Ramsay, have made this dish before

 Once you get the hang of this recipe, you can make it by eye. Photograph: iStock

JP McMahon: The great thing about this recipe is that you can use any fruit

The remains of charred hazelnuts shells can be found in many Irish Mesolithic sites

JP McMahon: The hazel tree occupies an important part of our mythology

An open letter to the Taoiseach from chef and restaurateur JP McMahon

Braised pheasant with curly kale. Photograph: iStock

The game bird is often seen as the preserve of a higher class of person. This is nonsense

Figs made their way to southern Europe in the Neolithic period.

JP McMahon: Making jam or chutney with a bit of vinegar an easy way to use up a surplus

Duck with orange and juniper go perfectly together. Photograph: iStock

With game season in full swing, why not try cooking wild birds on the barbecue?

Pumpkins: you can grow them in Irealnd, but it is not for the faint hearted. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

JP McMahon: I’m not a big fan of pumpkin pie – these alternatives are more to my taste

Paella with chorizo and lobster

Traditions evolve, move around, change...Not according to the paella police

‘I cook venison as I cook lamb, pan frying it with herbs and butter.’ Photograph: iStock

Taste of autumn: How to make venison with beetroot and hazelnuts

 J P McMahon:  I wonder who is actually writing these regulations as they seem to show no understanding of the daily workings of the hospitality industry. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

What happened to that slogan ‘we’re in this together?’ We are not in this together. The hospitality industry is on its knees

Preparing crab may appear daunting, but it can make us reflect more on our relationship with food. Photograph: iStock

Add plenty of chopped, fresh herbs to your crab and use olive oil to make it lighter

If you can’t get kohlrabi - though they are turning up in increasing numbers in vegetable delivery boxes - substitute a cauliflower, beetroot or celeriac and cook in the same manner

Cooking with hay is an age old art, dating back to at least Neolithic times

You haven’t tried a real tomato until you’ve had an organic heirloom tomato.

Tomato skins are normally removed because of their taste and texture, or if you’re making a sauce

Pollan can be grilled or pickled as with herring, or fried with a crispy layer of breadcrumbs. Photograph: iStock

JP McMahon: This white fish can be found in five Irish lakes, including Lough Neagh

The Irish wild cherry (silín) is a hard one to find nowadays, but it has sustained us on this island since at least the Bronze Age. Photograph: iStock

JP McMahon: Here are two ways to enjoy the wild cherry

Marrows have been grown in England for at least two centuries (1822), but courgettes don’t get a mention until the 1960s. Photograph: iStock

Though it emigrated to Ireland from Central America, courgette grows well here

‘We are all familiar with cucumber sandwiches, but what about cucumber sorbet or ice-cream?’ Photograph: iStock

JP McMahon: Cucumber ketchup is the relish you never knew you wanted

JP McMahon in his Aniar restaurant in Galway. Typically it is Americans who make up the bulk of his  customers at the restaurant. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

We should not have to police a law that’s not being policed by those in power

An older way of enjoying raspberries was to combine them with fresh curd.

Raspberries need little more than some sugar and cream. This shortbread is a great way to show them off

‘The best strawberries need nothing, they can be eaten straight up in the car. The sight of them should make you salivate immediately.’

Take your summer berries to heavenly levels with salt, rapeseed oil and balsamic vinegar

When making a grilled mackerel sandwich, Make sure the fish fillet is pin-boned and cooked on the skin side only, until blistered.

Other than fish fingers, what have we against putting fish in between two slices of white sliced bread?

Broad beans and peas on toast are a truly beautiful thing. Photograph: iStock

Food nostalgia makes me long for bruschetta, but I seldom make it with tomatoes

This quiche recipe is great to bake with children because of its many different parts.

This is a great recipe to bake with children because of its many different parts

‘Probably my greatest gripe regarding cooking chicken is the extent to which  we over cook it.’ Photograph: iStock

JP McMahon: My greatest grind regarding cooking chicken is the amount we over cook it

A Spanish tortilla keeps for 24 hours and is great for a picnic.

Understanding the seasonality of potatoes can help us appreciate them more

Fancy cooking sardines outdoors? All you need is a barbecue and a basket.

JP McMahon: We have great fishmongers delivering online so being adventurous has never been easier

Ripe fresh green gooseberries: ideal for salting, pickling or making jam. Photograph: Richard Johnston

JP McMahon: ‘The first time I tasted a salted gooseberry my eyes widened’

As they ripen, these cream-coloured flowers give off a honeyed floral odour that perfumes the air

Welcome the warm weather by making elderflower cordial or add to gin

Asparagus can be pickled quite easily. Photograph: iStock

We treat foods in cans as somehow being worth less than their fresh equivalent

Oysters are a national treasure that many of us seem to never try, which is unfortunate. Photograph: Anita Murphy

A naked oyster is truly remarkable, but if you need to dress it up, bake it with wild garlic butter

This recipe can be made with any mushrooms. Photograph: iStock

Wild mushrooms are still a few months away, so here’s an homage to the button

Potted crab goes perfectly with soda bread. Photograph: iStock

JP McMahon: For some reason potted shellfish still has currency in our own era

Watercress is an important aspect of Irish food culture through the ages. Photograph: iStock

How to poach salmon and make watercress purée

I like to think of purple sprouting broccoli as winter (or early spring) asparagus. Photograph: iStock

Hardy vegetable survives our climate, despite our poor soil and inclement weather

I’m amazed at how Boston thrives on its relationship to the sea while in Ireland we struggle to invest in ways that use our coastal bounty. Photograph: iStock

JP McMahon: This deep fried clams recipe is dish everyone needs to try

Roast leg of lamb. Photograph: iStock

Hogget, mutton – nowadays it’s all lamb in some quarters

This can be a dish in its own right but it goes well with most meats and fish. Photograph: iStock

Baking celeriac in hay might raise eyebrows in your family but they will be won over

Blackened leeks  served  with Romesco sauce – a  traditional Catalan winter dish

Catalonians prize their calçot so highly that cooking them is a big event. Here is an Irish alternative to try

‘Jerusalem artichokes are a firm February favourite of mine.’ Photograph: iStock

JP McMahon: Lamb, Jerusalem artichokes and wild garlic. What could be more beautiful and more Irish? 

‘Successive waves of migrants changed the Irish food landscape every so often, from the first farmers to the Celts, Vikings and Normans,’ says JP McMahon.  Photograph: Fusionshooters

To try and define Irish food for a new generation was my ultimate aim in writing The Irish Cook Book

Wild garlic. Photograph: iStock

This wonderful herb’s accessibility makes it a favourite in my larder and on my menus

Most imagine it’s a fruit, but rhubarb is actually a vegetable

‘Forced’ rhubarb, with no air miles attached, is now in season. Go grab some

Cod chowder: delicious and easy to make. Photograph: iStock

JP McMahon: Many think that chowder needs a variety of fish and shellfish, but this is not the case

 Venison meat can be treated similarly to beef or lamb, and its tenderness resides somewhere between the two. Photograph: iStock

JP McMahon: We’re nearing the end of the venison season. Try it before it comes to a close

Food is always better when bought from someone who cares about its provenance.

“Our lobsters are much too superior to disguise with any fancy sauce,” wrote the great Monica Sheridan. She was right

Kombucha is a fermented drink usually made with tea.

Drinking a few glasses of kombucha or kefir to regulate your gut is a good idea in January

With the increased emphasis on plant-based cooking and diets, I feel compelled to make more vegetable dishes available on my restaurant menus. Photograph: iStock

JP McMahon: Eating more plants will not do us meat eaters any harm

Mashed potatoes: a Christmas dinner staple. Photograph: iStock

JP McMahon: A lot of butter, and I mean a lot, is the secret to making this dish so delicious

Roast goose. iStock

Long before turkey, goose was the traditional meat in an Irish Christmas dinner

Scallops, oysters and langoustines are all great for starters. Photograph: iStock

Whole fish at Christmas is a great dish to share and easy to cook

 Jerusalem artichokes are  wonderfully diverse and can be cooked pretty much like a potato. Photograph: iStock

My favourite way to prepare this vegetable is to make a nutty purée to go with white fish

Salted anchovies make so many fish dishes more beautiful. Photograph: iStock

The secret is to making any fish dish more beautiful: add some anchovies

Celeriac is a firm favourite of mine and I eagerly await its appearance every year

Celeriac is a firm favourite of mine and I eagerly await its appearance every year

Bananas, as well as pineapples and figs, grew in Connemara in the 19th century, although not everyone had access to them

Why do we continually reduce our cultural experience of food to the humble potato?

When did pizza become so bad? Photograph: iStock

How did it go from being a slow food to a fast-food monster filled with preservatives and sugar?

Panna cotta: I love to use buttermilk to give it an Irish twist. Photograph: iStock

What gives the Italians a hold on this set cream dessert?

Pheasant is a tasty alternative to chicken. Photograph: iStock

In autumn, pheasant can be used instead of chicken in many recipes

‘Wild duck has a central place in our food story.’ Photograph: iStock

JP McMahon: ‘What is it about autumn that makes me want to eat more duck?’

JP McMahon: ‘My favourite way of preparing beetroot is to simmer it in salted water and then peel and dice it in preparation for frying.’ Photograph: iStock

JP McMahon: This dish works well on its own or with other dishes such as couscous or spinach

Serve pork belly with vegetables and apples. Photograph: iStock

Roasting pork belly is probably the easiest way to feed four to six people all at once

Could scallops in the shell soon be on sale in Ireland? Photograph: iStock

The laws in Ireland surrounding scallops must take the biscuit

In the west of Ireland, the word pumpkin is used to describe anything large and orange. Photograph: iStock

Whether tiny or a two-hand job, this seasonal vegetable can be enjoyed many ways

Take a few yellow and green courgettes and chop them into evenly-sized pieces...

JP McMahon: Spelt with roasted vegetables and herbs will produce a filling alternative to leaves

Fresh kohlrabi: in Germany they eat them like apples. Photograph: iStock

Thank the rain for the wonderful vegetables, and rediscover the benefits of brassicas

When I say tomatoes, I’m talking about heritage or heirloom tomatoes.  Photograph: iStock

Avoid the uniform red ovals on supermarket shelves; they don’t taste like tomatoes

As well as making jam, or apple and blackberry pie, blackberries also pair well with fish. Photograph: iStock

Mackerel, tuna, and trout all work with blackberries and I urge you to try them

Mussels are delicious and easy to cook. Photograph: iStock

A bowl of mussels is a cheap and nutritious dish, something that we should all eat regularly

Combined with butter and sea salt, potatoes  must be close to the most beautiful food I can imagine

We are turning away from the spud and don’t even grow enough in Ireland to feed ourselves

Glazed Chicken Drumsticks with a Sweet and Sour Sauce, Bread and Salad. Photograph: iStock

Most of us never purchase the legs of the chicken. Have you realised how much cheaper they are?

‘Peas and broad beans are great by themselves or served with some roasted leg of lamb.’ Photograph: iStock

JP McMahon: These great plate companions could not be simpler to prepare

Halve the cherries and macerate for two to three hours in some sweet sherry. Photograph: iStock

Pairing sweet and savoury is a classic combination and Cherries, raspberries, redcurrants and even plums are in season

Surf ’n’ turf became hugely popular in the 1990s. Photograph: iStock

Forget the aberration of beef and chewy prawns – try scallops and black pudding or monkfish and oxtail

As a summation of all things Irish and a tradition that is fast passing, we should all chew on a pig’s foot occasionally.

Food and literature: both feed mind and body and give us energy to get through the day

There is more to succulent strawberries than just whipped cream.

Combination of strawberries and cream said to have been created by Cardinal Wolsey for Henry VIII

Smoking the yoghurt might seem adventurous, but in truth it is simple. Photograph: Getty

We lack vision when it comes to using yoghurt in cooking: use it as a summer sauce or smoke it over hay

Wild garlic: get it now, before it’s gone. Photograph: iStock

There doesn’t seem to be a country in Europe that doesn’t have a wild garlic dish

Cucumbers came very late to Ireland. Photograph: iStock

There’s more to this fruit than slicing them for a salad

Seaweed: Bláth na Mara is a  family-run company that handpicks seaweed on the island of Inis Mór

Creating a feast of wild green edibles on the Aran Islands

‘But it has eyes,’ exclaims my daughter. Photograph: iStock

We should be eating shellfish more and meat a little less, and lobsters are easy to cook

Theodora Fitzgibbon in 1985. Fitzgibbon wrote a number of books about Irish food and food culture, including A Taste of Ireland in 1968. Photograph: Tom Lawlor/The Irish Times

The cookery writer helped to put Irish produce and food culture on the map

Grilled fish on a campfire .

But if you must have meat, an outdoor pizza oven is a great way to roast chicken, just rub the bird with oil, salt and chopped her(...)

Mushrooms bruschetta with cream cheese on the Tray.

Mushrooms constitute a good alternative healthy option for vegetable-forward dishes

Asparagus tip: this vegetable should cook in no time – just keep swirling the pot continuously

Here is a beautifully quick risotto that even the novice cook can pull off

Heap of fresh blue borage flowers

JP McMahon: Some chefs don’t like flowers, they find them too feminine

Beer-battered fish: the perfect dinner for a cold night in April. Photograph: iStock

JP McMahon: Turn free greens into oil or mayo and eat with fried fish

Oysters in their shell. We added a little buttermilk and chive oil – just for a little greenness –  on the ones we served on St Patrick’s Day

JP McMahon: I love the ways the tangy acidity complements the briny richness of the oyster

Being able to chat about how a particular vegetable grows, and how long it takes to grow, are questions that can only be answered at a farmers’ market. Photograph: iStock

We’ll never be free of the supermarket but we should bridge the gap between food and our community

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

More articles