Marian Finucane

Marian Finucane

Saturday, Sunday, 11 - 1pm

Marian Finucane Saturday 22 October 2016

Ask the Specialist - The line between good and bad.

Ask the Specialist - The line between good and bad.

What makes some people good and some people bad? According to Dr. Ian Gargan, Forensic Psychologist, the line that moves you from one to the other can be thinner than you think. The book is called The Line: What would it take to make you cross it? 

It is not the type of “Mind Reader” you will see in American TV dramas such as Criminal Minds.It is taking a very methodical approach, looking at assessing criminal behaviour and identifying the best treatment or sentence to deal with this.

Minister for Health, Simon Harris

Minister for Health, Simon Harris

Marian speaks with Minister for Health, Simon Harris on his role in Government, how he came into politics, his brother Adam and much more. 

Munster's return to action

Munster's return to action

Marian catches up with Billy Keane, columnist and writer, Marcus Horan, former Munster and Ireland player and Des Cahill from RTÉ sports on Munster's reaction to action and the tragic loss of Munster rugby legend Anthony Foley. 

Pól Ó Conghaile - The World’s Best Hotel

Pól Ó Conghaile - The World’s Best Hotel

It probably came as a bit of a surprise to most of us this week that the world's best hotel is situated in a quiet corner of Co Laois.. Ballyfin Demense is the top hotel, as voted by readers of Conde Nast Traveller

Travel editor with the Irish Independent, Pól O’Conghaile joins Marian in studio who has stayed in Ballyfin, and will describe it to us. 

A taste of Home - Catherine Fulvio

A taste of Home - Catherine Fulvio

Catherine Fulvio joins Marian in studio and fills her in on her food memories from her childhood and her new book. 


Blackberry and Rhubarb Upside- Down Cake

This cake was originally a pineapple and cherry upside-down cake which was made daily here at Ballyknocken for hungry hillwalking guests. Because of my love for all that my garden produces, I’m using delicious rhubarb here. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Line the base of a square 20cm baking tin with parchment paper. Brush the sides with melted butter and dust with a little flour. Place the rhubarb pieces on a roasting tin, sprinkle over the 4 tbsp brown sugar and roast until just cooked and lightly caramelised. For the topping, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Spoon into the base of the baking tin. Arrange the roasted rhubarb lengths around the outer edge of the baking tin and pour over the juices from the roasting tin. Place the blackberries in the centre and sprinkle the ground cinnamon over the fruit.

To make the cake batter, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Spread the cake batter over the arranged fruit and bake in the preheated oven for about 30 to 35 minutes until well risen, golden and cooked. Insert a skewer into the cake and check that it comes out clean, but be aware of the cooked fruit lower down. Transfer to a cooling rack and leave to set in the tin for about 15 minutes. Then carefully slide a sharp, thin knife around the edge of the tin. Place a plate on top and quickly turn over. Remove the parchment paper. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm with lots of whipped cream.

melted butter, for brushing

flour, for dusting

12 rhubarb stalks, trimmed and cut in 8cm lengths

4 tbsp brown sugar


60g butter, softened

120g soft light brown sugar

200g blackberries

¼ tsp ground cinnamon


100g butter, softened

80g golden caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 free-range eggs

200g plain flour, sifted

1½ tsp baking powder dusting of icing sugar, to decorate

Serves 6 to 8


Caramelised Onion and Leek Scones

These flavoursome scones will add that ‘wow’ to any meal from brunch to a dinner party, where they could accompany a soup. They’re a great crowd pleaser, especially in our cookery school. Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 6. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Heat the butter and olive oil in a frying pan and cook the onions and leek over a low heat, stirring from time to time, until softened but not browned. This will take about 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer the cooked onion and leek to a small bowl, straining off the excess butter and oil in the process, and set aside. Sift the flour, baking powder and bread soda into a large bowl. Add the salt and sugar. Using your fingers, rub the chilled butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir the Parmesan, onions and leek into the flour mix. Carefully mix in the yoghurt to form a soft dough. Transfer to a floured surface and knead lightly for a few seconds. Pat the dough out to about 2.5cm thick. Using a medium-sized cutter, cut out rounds and place on the baking tray. Brush the tops with egg wash and transfer to the preheated oven. Bake for about 15 to 18 minutes, depending on the size, keeping an eye on them, until lightly golden and risen. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.

1 tbsp butter

2 tbsp olive oil

2 medium onions,

finely chopped

½ large leek, finely sliced

250g plain flour, plus

extra for rolling

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp bread soda

(bicarbonate of soda)

½ tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

60g chilled butter, diced

40g grated Parmesan

120g natural yoghurt (you may need a little more depending on the thickness)

egg wash, to glaze


Cauliflower Cheese Bake

I often sprinkle toasted nuts or seed mix on top of this, and I sometimes use broccoli with the cauliflower florets, which gives great colour. Preheat the oven to 210°C/fan 190°C/gas 7. Brush a gratin dish with a little melted butter. Place the cauliflower florets in a steamer and cook for 15 to 18 minutes depending on the size. Meanwhile, to make the sauce, place the butter, hazelnut oil, anchovies, plain flour, milk, salt and freshly ground black pepper into a saucepan over a medium heat. Whisk while it heats up and a thick sauce forms. When the cauliflower is done, place the cooked florets into the prepared gratin dish ready for the sauce. Add the mustard and three-quarters of the grated cheese to the sauce and simmer for 1 minute, whisking all the time. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower florets and sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese on top. Place in the oven to brown for about 5 to 6 minutes, but keep an eye on it. Sprinkle over the almonds and chopped chives when ready to


melted butter, for brushing

1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets


4 tbsp butter

2 tsp hazelnut oil

2 anchovies, drained

and very finely chopped

4 tbsp plain flour

500ml milk

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp wholegrain mustard

60g grated local mature Cheddar cheese

2 tbsp flaked almonds, to garnish

1 tbsp chopped chives


Chocolate Mousse Cake

Serves 8 to 10

All I can say is that this is a proven favourite among our resident guests at Ballyknocken Farmhouse. Many have asked for the recipe, so here it is! (For a taller chocolate mousse, use a springform tin rather than a flan tin and simply increase the quantity of cream – anything up to 700ml will work nicely.)


15 digestive biscuits, finely crushed

50g ground almonds

100g melted butter, plus extra for brushing


350g dark chocolate

(70% cocoa solids),

broken into small


2 tbsp golden syrup

1 tsp coffee essence (or 2 tsp coffee granules dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water)

¾ tsp ground


500ml double cream

cocoa powder, to decorate

toasted flaked

almonds, to decorate the sides

chocolate curls, to decorate

Brush a 20cm loose-based deep flan tin or spring form with butter. Line the base with parchment paper. To make the base, combine the biscuits and ground almonds and add enough melted butter to bind (the amount needed will depend on the size of the biscuits). Spoon the biscuit mix into the base and flatten. Place in the fridge to set for 30 minutes. To make the filling, heat the chocolate, golden syrup, coffee essence and ground cinnamon in a medium saucepan over a very low heat. When the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool. Meanwhile, whip the cream to soft-peak stage. Fold the cooled chocolate mix into the whipped cream and pour over the biscuit base. Leave to set in the fridge for at least 5 hours.

To serve, unmould from the tin and slide onto a cake stand. Dust the top with cocoa powder. Carefully pat toasted flaked almonds onto the sides of the cake and dust the excess off the cake stand. When you’re ready to serve, place the chocolate curls in the centre of the cake.


Honey, Red Wine and Juniper Red Cabbage

Red cabbage is very durable, surviving heavy frosts through the winter. What’s

wonderful about this robust vegetable is its ability to take flavour, working well with

Mediterranean and Asian influences. Heat the butter in a large saucepan, add the red

onions and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the red cabbage, apple, juniper berries, honey,

balsamic vinegar and red wine. Add a little water. Cover with a piece of parchment paper – this

will create steam and help the vegetables to cook quicker. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for

about 40 minutes, stirring from time to time. Check the seasoning, adding salt and freshly ground black pepper. You may need to add a little

more honey to taste. 

2 tbsp butter

2 red onions, sliced

600g red cabbage, shredded

1 red apple, sliced into thin wedges

1 tsp juniper berries, crushed

1½ tbsp honey

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

100ml red wine

about 50ml water

salt and freshly ground black pepper


Kale, Cannellini and Potato Soup

Serves 4

This is where Italy meets Ireland – yes, it’s my taste nod to Italy and a really delicious and healthy blend of our two cultures. olive oil, for sautéing

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

60g smoked bacon, diced

4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

1 tsp chopped thyme

100ml white wine

1.2 litres vegetable stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper

60g curly kale,

washed and roughly shredded

150g cooked cannellini beans

Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion for 5 minutes until soft and just starting to colour. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the smoked bacon and sauté until fairly crispy. Add the potatoes, thyme and white wine and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring from time to time. Pour in the vegetable stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Check the seasoning, adding salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Simmer for about 18 to 20 minutes. Stir in the kale and cooked beans and simmer for about 3 to 4 minutes, until the kale is just tender. Ladle into soup bowls and serve.


Lamb Wellington with Wild Garlic

Serves 4 Beef Wellington is truly delicious. Being lamb farmers here at Ballyknocken, we adore our family version of Lamb Wellington. It really is a very fine dish, perfect for that ‘wow factor’ when you really want to impress.

3 tbsp olive oil

4 x 120g lamb fillets

(ask your butcher to

trim them for you)

good pinch of paprika

salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 shallots, finely sliced

1 garlic clove, finely sliced

250g fresh seasonal

mixed mushrooms, sliced

2 tbsp Madeira

50ml white wine mixed

with 1 tsp cornflour

75g pork or duck-liver pâté

16 young wild garlic leaves

300g all-butter puff pastry egg wash, to glaze

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Sear 2 pieces of lamb at a time until golden brown all round. Season with paprika, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Leave to cool. Add the shallots and garlic to the frying pan and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Then add the mushrooms and cook for a further 4 to 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the Madeira, then add the white wine and cornflour mix and cook until the mixture ha thickened. Lastly add the pâté and salt and pepper to taste and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 210°C/fan 190°C/gas 7. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Wrap 4 wild garlic leaves around each lamb fillet. Roll out the puff pastry to 0.5 cm thick and cut into 4 equal rectangles, each of sufficient size to wrap around a lamb fillet. Spread a layer of the cold mushroom mix over each rectangle of pastry, leaving a 3cm edge free all the way around. Place a fillet in the middle of each and wrap the puff pastry around it.

Brush the edges of the pastry with egg wash and seal well. Place the wrapped fillets, unsealed side up, on the lined baking tray. Make a small slit in the pastry for the steam to escape during the baking process. Then score the puff pastry on top. Brush with egg wash, making sure that only the tops and sides are coated and that the parchment paper is free of egg wash. Bake for about 17 to 20 minutes until the pastry is golden. Leave to rest for 4 minutes before cutting so that the juices in the meat can settle. Serve sliced on a platter with Polenta and Parsley Chunky Parsnips (see p. 138).


‘To Die For’ Lemon Meringue Pie

My mother was most definitely the queen of lemon meringue pie, to the point where we as children became quite the connoisseurs, recognising the good, the bad and the ugly of this wonderful dessert. I like my lemon meringue filling to be fairly sharp, as a contrast to the soft marshmallow topping, and you can’t go wrong with serving lemon meringue to a crowd. Brush a deep loose-based 23cm flan tin with some melted butter. Dust with a little flour.

To make the pastry, place the flour, ground almonds and butter into a food processor and blend until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Pour in the egg yolk and pulse to form a soft pastry dough. Add a little cold water if needed.

Roll the pastry out between 2 pieces of clingfilm and then peel off the top piece. Turn over and carefully line the dusted flan tin with the pastry. Peel off the other piece of clingfilm. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 4. Place a piece of parchment paper over the pastry and pour in baking beans. Bake for about 20 minutes and then remove the baking beans and parchment paper. Brush the pastry with egg wash and bake again for about 10 minutes until golden. Set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4.

To make the filling, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Whisking all the time, add the butter, then pour in the lemon zest and juice. Whisk in the cornflour and simmer until a thick sauce/filling develops. It is best to keeping whisking while the filling is thickening. Set aside. To make the meringue topping, whisk the egg whites to soft-peak stage. Gradually add the sugar until a thick meringue develops. Fold in the cornflour.

Pour the lemon filling into the baked pastry case and spoon or pipe the meringue topping over, starting from the outer edge and working to the centre, ensuring that you make peaks. Transfer to the preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes until golden and brown. Cool on a rack then serve with a delicious farmhouse vanilla ice cream.


melted butter, for brushing

200g plain flour, plus a little extra for dusting

2 tbsp ground almonds

150g chilled butter, roughly diced

1 free-range egg yolk

1 to 2 tbsp cold water egg wash, to glaze


5 free-range egg yolks

250g caster sugar

50g butter

5 lemons, zest of 2 and juice of 5

3 tbsp cornflour


5 free-range egg whites

250g caster sugar

2 tsp cornflour


Mary’s Brown Bread

This is a ‘fond memory’ bread which my mother made very often – and in two minutes flat we’d demolish it! It’s made in a Pyrex bowl. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Brush a 900ml Pyrex bowl with melted butter. Place the flours and salt into a large bowl. Sift in the bread soda and mix well. Put the molasses, melted butter, egg and buttermilk in a jug and whisk well. Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix to form a soft dough. Transfer to the prepared Pyrex bowl. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. To check that the loaf is cooked, tap the base – it should sound hollow. Transfer to a cooling rack. If you want a soft crust, cover with a damp tea towel.

225g plain flour

225g wholemeal flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp bread soda

(bicarbonate of soda)

1 tbsp molasses

40g butter, melted

(about 2 tbsp), plus

extra for brushing

1 free-range egg,


380ml buttermilk


Mustard and Spinach Mash

The nation’s staple is mash so it has to be done right – no lumps! – and that means getting yourself a potato ricer: it’s the best gadget that I have in my kitchen. Place the diced potatoes into a steamer and cook until softened: this will take about 15 to 18 minutes. While still hot, press the potatoes through a potato ricer. Heat the milk, butter, mustard, salt and freshly ground black pepper together. (If you do this in a microwave, it will save time.)

Pour the hot milk and butter over the potatoes and fold in gently. The mix should be soft, so add more milk if necessary. Check the seasoning, adding salt and freshly ground black pepper as required. Fold in the roughly chopped spinach. Ideally it should be served immediately, but you can keep it warm for about 30 minutes over a bain marie. To do this, spoon the mash into a bowl, cover and place over a saucepan of barely simmering water.

7 medium potatoes,

peeled and roughly


100ml milk

3 tbsp butter

1 tsp wholegrain


salt and freshly

ground black pepper

generous handful

young spinach leaves,

roughly shredded


Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Wild Garlic Sauce

The purple sprouting broccoli and wild garlic season is just too short. They both have their own distinctive and delicate flavours so I never want to complicate them – this is simplicity at its best!

300g purple sprouting

broccoli, trimmed and

older leaves removed

75g butter

good handful wild

garlic (about 30g),

washed and chopped

½ lemon, juice and


salt and freshly

ground black pepper

To cook the broccoli, place in a large saucepan of rapidly boiling, salted water. Cook until just al dente (to the bite) – this should take about 3 minutes. Drain and keep warm. Heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium to high heat. Add the chopped wild garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the lemon juice and zest and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the broccoli on a shallow serving platter, spoon over the garlic sauce and serve immediately.


Stuffed Date and Hazelnut Pork Fillet with Creamy Mushroom and Pink Peppercorn Sauce

We had this on a family trip to Wexford. Claudio liked it so much, he ordered the same again on the second night of our stay! When he got home, he tried to recreate it, so this is now also known as ‘Dad’s Pork’ in our house. We’ve also made it with diced dried apricots and even fresh pears when in season, and it’s still much loved. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4.

To prepare the pork fillet, make an incision along the top but not cutting all the way through the meat. Lay the pancetta in strips underneath the pork. Season the meat with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

To make the stuffing, place the dates, thyme, breadcrumbs, lemon zest and hazelnuts into a small bowl and mix well. Spoon the mix into the incision in the fillet. Then lift and cross the pancetta strips over the meat. Place the sprigs of thyme and the bay leaves on top and tie 3 pieces of string around the fillet – one near each end and one in the middle – to secure the filling.

To cook, heat some rapeseed oil in a casserole dish over a high heat and brown the pork on all sides. Transfer to the oven and roast for about 35 to 40 minutes or until the fillet is cooked through. Remove, cover loosely with foil and leave to rest.

To make the sauce, place the casserole dish back on the hob, then add the mushrooms, brandy and thyme sprigs and saute until the mushrooms are just cooked. Add the peppercorns and saute for 1 minute before pouring in the cream. Leave to simmer for about 2 minutes. Check the seasoning, adding salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed. To serve, slice the pork fillet and place a few slices on each serving plate. Spoon over some mushroom sauce and serve with potatoes roasted with a little thyme and baked sweet potato wedges.

600g pork fillet, trimmed

10 strips of pancetta

salt and freshly ground

black pepper


8 Medjool or ready-to-eat

dates, pitted and roughly


2 tsp chopped thyme

75g breadcrumbs

½ lemon, zest only

4 tbsp toasted hazelnuts,


sprigs of thyme and 4 bay


rapeseed oil


150g your favourite

mushroom selection, sliced

2 tbsp brandy

6 small sprigs of thyme

1 tsp pink peppercorns,


220ml double cream

salt and freshly ground

black pepper

sprigs of thyme, to garnish


‘The Perfect Fools’ – Gooseberry and Elderflower and Blackcurrant and Rosemary

As a child I was always given the job of picking the gooseberries – the plants are pretty thorny and over the years I’ve noticed that the clever summer birds decimate my blackcurrant patch (as much as I allow them!) but still leave the gooseberries for me. Is there some divine message there?

Gooseberry fool is one of the best desserts in my world – thank goodness the season is short otherwise I’d be eating fool all summer and having to walk it off more than I do already! 

To make the gooseberry fool, combine the berries, sugar and cordial in a medium saucepan over a low heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely.

Lightly whip the cream with the icing sugar until it reaches softpeak stage. Set aside 2 tbsp of the compote, then gently combine the rest with the cream so that it creates a marbling effect. If serving the fools separately, neatly spoon the mix into small glasses, top with the reserved compote and leave to set in the fridge for an hour.

To make the blackcurrant fool, combine the berries, sugar and rosemary sprigs in a medium saucepan over a low heat and simmer for about 6 minutes until softened. Leave to cool, then remove the rosemary sprigs.

Lightly whip the cream and icing sugar to soft-peak stage. Set aside 2 tbsp of the compote and gently combine the cream with the rest of it to create a marbling effect. If serving separately, neatly spoon into small glasses, top with some compote and leave in the fridge for an hour to set. 

Alternatively, if serving the fools together, spoon some gooseberry fool into the base of a taller glass, followed by some of the gooseberry compote. Then top with some of the blackcurrant fool, topped with some of the compote. To serve, place either a glass of each fool or the tall glass with both on a board or plate, decorate with mint or rosemary sprigs and serve with shortbread biscuits.


200g gooseberries,

washed, topped and tailed

50g caster sugar

2 tbsp elderflower cordial

200ml double cream

3 tbsp icing sugar


200g blackcurrants,

washed, topped and tailed

75g caster sugar

2 medium sprigs of rosemary

200ml double cream

3 tbsp icing sugar

4 sprigs of mint or rosemary, to decorate shortbread biscuits, to serve.


Tomato Haddock with Asparagus and Prosciutto

This is one of the most popular fish dishes that we make in our cookery school, yet it’s easy and can be done in a flash. Heat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas 5.

To make the tomato base, heat a little oil in a shallow casserole dish on the hob, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the passata, orange zest, oregano and celery seeds and simmer slowly for 10 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

For the roast tomatoes, place the tomatoes on the vine on top of the sauce, drizzle over a little rapeseed oil, add the rosemary and chives and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add the asparagus to rapidly boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and then place in ice-cold water.

For the fish, place 3 spears of the blanched asparagus on each fillet and wrap with prosciutto di Parma. Place in the casserole dish around the cherry tomatoes and return to the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes until the fish is just cooked through. Serve with Garlic and Rosemary Roast Potatoes (see p. 136) and garnish with sprigs of rosemary.


rapeseed oil

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

200ml passata

½ orange, zest only

2 tsp oregano, chopped

½ tsp celery seeds

salt and freshly ground black pepper



250g cherry tomatoes on the vine

1 tsp chopped rosemary

1 tbsp chopped chives

12 asparagus spears, trimmed


4 x 170g haddock or cod fillets

100g prosciutto di Parma sprigs of rosemary, to serve

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