Roast beef and rhubarb crumble are delicious food classics worth mastering

I’m loving Wales: I had forgotten how easy it is to pop onto the ferry at Rosslare and, after a few chilled hours, drive off into Fishguard, then off into the Welsh countryside.

I had also totally forgotten how beautiful the Welsh countryside is, some wide roads but lots and lots of winding lanes edged with wildflowers, native bluebells, pink champion, jack of the hedge, stitchwort, and Queen Anne’s lace. Is this the most beautiful time of the year in Wales? I don’t know, I haven’t been here for more than a decade. And, no I am not in the pay of the Welsh tourist board, I am just enchanted. Many of the towns and villages are old-fashioned – lots of antique and charity shops, estate agents and sadly some empty premises too.

We are on our way to a forest farm, an eco-development just outside Cardigan: part glamping, part shacks and a beautiful farmhouse, but super chic. Our Onsen dome overlooks a field of dandelions edged by a deciduous wood, out of which deer amble nonchalantly in the early morning. It has a really comfy bed and a stove which makes everything toasty warm even on chilly April nights. There’s a cute little kitchen plus an outdoor kitchen, a barbecue, a hot tub, several Adirondack chairs and a lovely lounge banquette seat – we’re not exactly slumming it.

We tuck into the picnic that we never leave home without.

Dinner: it’s Pizza Night at fforest – a very convivial outdoor affair with a choice of five or six pizzas with gorgeous fresh toppings from the wood-burning oven. Just tuck into slice after slice of whatever you fancy, and help yourself to a salad of leaves from the garden, all around the brazier.

We drove to Lampeter, still in Wales, to visit friends who make Hafod, a wonderful organic Cheddar cheese from the milk of their beautiful herd of Ayrshire cows. We talk into the night around the kitchen table, meet many inspirational farmers, educators, and researchers and share thoughts and ideas about food production, farming sustainably and supporting those on a journey towards regenerating farming.

Then on to another farm, just over the Welsh border into Shropshire, this time 2,500 acres in conversion to organic farming. Another stunning landscape, sheep grazing the hills and woodlands. Walled gardens and greenhouses bursting with beautiful healthy organic vegetables and fruit trees in full blossom.

We cook supper together, make a salsa verde from the gorgeous freshly picked herbs from the garden and Béarnaise sauce with some of the most luscious fresh tarragon I have ever seen. All this is served with a beautiful fillet of beef from the local butcher and some purple sprouting broccoli from the garden. A little feast followed by delicious poached plums saved in the freezer from last year’s harvest.

Next, we’re on our way to the Cotswolds, wending our way through those idyllic sandstone villages to Southrop to stay at Thyme, a particularly lovely country house hotel in the midst of gardens and grounds.

That’s all for this week, if you are looking for some inspiration for a trip this summer, Wales is definitely worth considering.

Here are a few recipes to tantalize your taste buds.

Roast Fillet of Beef with Béarnaise Sauce

A fillet of beef is an expensive cut and a real treat

Roast Fillet of Beef with Béarnaise Sauce

Preparation Time

20 mins


  • 1 whole fillet of well-hung dried aged beef – 2.6kg (6lb) approximately

  • a few cloves of garlic

  • pork caul fat (if available)

  • sea ​​salt and freshly-cracked pepper

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • Béarnaise Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons tarragon vinegar

  • 4 tablespoons dry white wine

  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped shallots

  • pinch of freshly ground pepper

  • 2 organic egg yolks

  • 110g (4oz) butter

  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped French tarragon leaves


  1. Trim away the ‘chain’ if it is still attached, and use the meat for Beef Stroganoff. (The chain is the fat-covered portion of meat at the bottom of the tenderloin).

  2. Double over the meat at the tapered end and tie the fillet securely with fine butcher’s cotton twine. Alternatively, ask your butcher to do the ‘butchering’ for you.

  3. Rub the fillet all over with a cut clove of garlic, season well with lots of freshly-ground pepper and wrap loosely in caul fat if available. Season well with sea salt.

  4. Preheat the oven to 230 ° C / 450 ° F / Gas Mark 8.

  5. Alternatively, rub the fillet all over with the cut clove of garlic as before, season well on all sides with salt and freshly cracked pepper and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

  6. Heat a cast-iron pan grill to very hot.

  7. Sear the beef until nicely browned on all sides. Transfer it to a roasting tin and tuck a couple of sprigs of thyme underneath.

  8. Roast for 25-30 minutes. If you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should read 50 ° C / 125 ° F for rare or 75 ° C / 167 ° F for well done. Alternatively, the meat should feel springy to the touch and the juice should be pale pink when the meat is pierced with a skewer.

  9. Remove from the oven to a carving dish. Cover and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes by which time the juices will have redistributed themselves and the beef will be uniformly medium-rare.

  10. Serve cut in 5mm (1/4 inch) slices and serve with Béarnaise sauce.

  11. For the Béarnaise Sauce, boil the first 4 ingredients together in a low, heavy-bottomed, stainless-steel saucepan until completely reduced and the pan is almost dry but not browned.

  12. Add 1 tablespoon of cold water immediately. Pull the pan off the heat and leave to cool for 1 or 2 minutes.

  13. Using a coil whisk, whisk in the egg yolks and add the butter bit by bit over a very low heat, whisking all the time. As soon as one piece melts, add the next piece; it will gradually thicken. If it shows signs of becoming too thick or slightly scrambling, remove from the heat immediately and add a little cold water.

  14. Do not leave the pan or stop whisking until the sauce is made. Finally, add 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped French tarragon and taste for seasoning.

  15. If the sauce is slow to thicken, it may be because you are excessively cautious and the heat is too low. Increase the heat slightly and continue to whisk until all the butter is added and the sauce is a thick coating consistency.

  16. It is important to remember, however, that if you are making Béarnaise sauce in a saucepan directly over the heat, it should be possible to put your hand on the side of the saucepan at any stage. If the saucepan feels too hot for your hand it is also too hot for the sauce!

  17. Another good tip if you are making Béarnaise sauce for the first time is to keep a bowl of cold water close by so that you can plunge the bottom of the saucepan into it if it becomes too hot.

  18. Keep the sauce warm in a Pyrex bowl over hot but not simmering water or in a Thermos flask until you want to serve it.

Rhubarb Crumble

Crumbles are comfort food and you can vary the fruit according to the season.

Rhubarb Crumble

Preparation Time

15 mins


  • 700g (1 1 / 2lbs) rhubarb

  • 110g (4oz) sugar

  • 1-2 tablespoons water

  • For the crumble:

  • 110g (4oz) white flour, preferably unbleached

  • 50g (2oz) cold butter

  • 50g (2oz) caster sugar

  • 25g (1oz) chopped almonds or hazelnuts (optional)

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

  • 1.2 liter (2 pint) capacity pie dish


  1. Cut the rhubarb into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces and turn into a pie dish. Sprinkle with sugar. Add the water.

  2. Rub the butter into the flour just until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs, add the sugar and cinnamon and chopped nuts if using.

  3. Sprinkle this mixture over the rhubarb in the pie dish.

  4. Bake in a preheated moderate oven 180 ° C / 350 ° F / Gas Mark 4, for 30-45 minutes or until the topping is cooked and golden.

  5. Serve with whipped cream and soft brown sugar.


Dublin Gastronomy Symposium 2022: Food and Movement (
May 31 – 1st June 1, 2022 at the Grangegorman Campus of the Technological University Dublin)

We are living in times of rapid change. People are on the move continuously whether in search of food, work or a better quality of life for their families. Some movements of people are caused by forced migration due to war, political exile, famine or indeed climate change. For others, air travel as well as stability, peace, prosperity and political cooperation has eased the movement of people and goods and enabled our experiences of new, exotic or ethnic foodways.

Food tourism means traveling in order to experience the food culture of the destinations, whether shopping in food markets, Michelin-starred dining, visiting food and beverage producers or taking cooking classes. Movement in what we eat can be dramatic or gradual. International researchers suggest there is a drastic need to move from our predominantly meat-and-dairy-heavy diets to a more plant-based one in order to halt the current global warming.

Movement encapsulates the migration of people, ideas, ingredients, cuisines, technologies and cultures, not to mention invasive species, germs and diseases.

Just Cook It: October at Ballymaloe Cookery School (Monday, October 18, 2022, from 2.30pm – 7pm)

Looking for something to do this Autumn? This half-day course gives you a tantalizing taste of the Ballymaloe Cookery School and provides inspiration for anyone eager to cook a variety of dishes with greater confidence.

Limited numbers, € 215 per person. Recipes and tastings of all dishes included.


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