Black Pudding Truffles

Rich Black Pudding combined with Irish Black Butter was a mad experiment that turned out delicious. Good for snaffling down with a glass of festive porter. A proper canape!

While researching for old Christmas cake recipes for an article, I came across lots of mentions of a Caraway Seed Cake that no-one seems to make anymore...

Bonfire Night in Ireland means something completely different to Bonfire Night in England. In Ireland, Bonfire Night is on 23rd June to celebrate St John’s Eve, and like most of Ireland’s feast days, the roots are in Celtic pagan times that cross over into religious celebrations.

Black Pudding Truffles

Rich Black Pudding combined with Irish Black Butter was a mad experiment that turned out delicious. Good for snaffling down with a glass of festive porter. A proper canape!

Irish Black Butter isn’t butter at all, but an old Irish tradition that goes back hundreds of years to a time when Armagh was known as The Orchard of Ireland. It’s made of apples, a thick rich spiced conserve that is Ireland’s answer to quince jelly!

Irish Black Butter is made from Armagh Bramley Apples (an EU PGI protected variety of apple), cider, brandy and spices. It’s versatile, good as a savoury or sweet accompaniment with cheese and meats, as a glaze, spread on bread or even mixed into natural yogurt!

It’s a taste I find I need to get accustomed to, and because of that I often look at it in my fridge pleading with me to find something to do with it that I find tasty and interesting!

I received a #gifted box of traditional pork products from O’Herlihy’s in Ballincollig, a family business about to celebrate its 60th year in business in 2021. They do porky products that have a distinct nostalgic quality to them (their sandwich ham has a fabulous texture and taste you don’t often get in packed ham anymore, and they also do sliced corned beef the likes of which I haven’t seen since I was a kid!).

In amongst all the porkie goodies was a chub of their family recipe black pudding. Made from pork, oatmeal and a gentle peel of spices, its a little smoother than other black puddings that frequent this house, which happens to make it very good for molding!

So I had the idea to pair O’Herlihy’s Black Pudding from Co Cork with Irish Black Butter from Co Antrim and made these glorious little Black Pudding Truffles – an absolutely divine combination of flavours, you must try these!

There are a little fiddly to make, so take your time; and chilling the truffles well before crumbing and frying them is essential if you don’t want them to fall apart in the fryer! Do try them, you’ll be so surprised how good they are!

Black Pudding Truffles


  • 300g chub of O’Herlihy’s Black Pudding
  • 3 tbsp of Irish Black Butter conserve
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Oil for frying


  • Into a bowl, crumble in the black pudding and gradually massage it into a softer, more malleable paste.
  • Take about 1 tablespoon sized amount of the black pudding into your hands and gradually press and form into a ball. Repeat until finished.
  • Take each ball and, forming a cup shape with one hand, press the ball out to create a small bowl shape. Turn and shape keeping the meat all together. Take the time to do this, thinning and lengthening the walls of the ‘cup’ to create a space to drop in the Black Butter paste.
  • Using a spoon or a piping bag if you have one, put in about a 1/4 teaspoon of Black Butter into the dip.
  • Then start to close the sides of the cup over the conserve to reform the black pudding into a ball again. Set aside and repeat until they are all done. It is a messy job!
  • Chill the formed truffles in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  • Heat the oil in a deep-sided saucepan pan or a deep fat fryer to a medium high heat. Coat the Black Pudding Truffles in panko breadcrumbs (or whatever breadcrumbs you have to hand) and drop carefully into the hot oil to quickly deep fry. When the breadcrumbs are golden brown, gently take them out of the oil and drain on a piece of kitchen paper.

Plate up and enjoy!

Apple & Caraway Seed Cake

While researching for old Christmas cake recipes for an article, I came across lots of mentions of a Caraway Seed Cake that no-one seems to make anymore…

So I asked around, and it turns out those who remember it from their childhood never used to like it because of the caraway seeds. One person told me they used to fastidiously pluck out every single seed before they would eat it.

Now, to some this kinda feedback might dissuade you from the desire to taste such a thing. But if you’re me, and I am, then this simply yells *challenge* – after all, how bad could it be?

I happen to love the flavour of caraway seeds which puts me at an obvious advantage to those who don’t. I’m sure when this cake was the height of popularity in Cork, it was considered sophisticated for its use of such spices. Cork being a major trading hub for all kinds of foods coming into Ireland from near and far thanks to the international butter trade, to be so extravagant as to put such exoticisms into a tea cake is a display of Total Notions for which you only truly get away with at Christmas time!

Caraway seeds are used a lot in German cookery. It is often mixed with sauerkraut and used as a topping on a bratwurst along with hot mustard. It is also combined with apples for a very traditional Bavarian accompaniment to roast Goose. It is also used to flavour breads, biscuits and cookies, so it is versatile for use in both sweet and savoury dishes. I love it!

But to pull the Irish Caraway Seed Cake out of purgatory and turn it into something altogether more indulgent, I took inspiration from apples to really elevate this tea cake into something much more indulgent and festive!

And here’s how you do it…

Apple and Caraway Seed Cake


  • 180g soft unsalted butter
  • 150g white caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 225g all purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tbsp whole caraway seeds, toasted
  • 4 tsbp / 50ml of apple liqueur (I used Kilahora Orchards Pomm’O)
  • 150g fresh apple puree
  • Royal icing sugar and either a dash more apple brandy or apple juice
  • Chocolate covered apple sticks to decorate (I like Lismore Food Co)


To make the apple puree, peel, core and quarter 4 – 6 apples in a saucepan with a dash of water. Cover and cook until broken down into pulp. Spoon out into a bowl, set aside and allow to cool. Any puree you don’t use for the cake will be lovely used for breakfast in porridge or with yogurt.

  • Set the oven temperature to 170 degrees Celsius, fan.
  • In a dry frying pan over a medium high heat, toast the caraway seeds lightly then place into a small bowl to cool.
  • Grease a cake tin, either a 20cm circular spring form or a 1lb loaf tin.
  • Put the butter and sugar into a large bowl, and beat together until light and fluffy. Using an electric whisk of some kind makes this even easier!
  • Add the eggs one by one and whisk each one in until fully combined.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder into the same bowl. Add half the amount of caraway seeds and fold the mixture together.
  • Then add the apple liqueur and the apple puree. Beat together to form a light batter.
  • Pour into the cake/loaf tin, and bake in the oven for 1 hour, checking at 50 minutes. Test with a skewer, if it comes out clean the cake is cooked.
  • Take out the oven and allow to cool completely.
  • Mix up some royal icing with either the apple liqueur or apple juice to a consistency you like. I like mine not too thick, more like a frosting. Pour over and let drizzle down the sides of the cake a little.
  • Garnish the cake with the remaining caraway seeds and chocolate dipped apple sticks.

Cut a generous slice, and, leaving all the seeds in situ, devour with a freshly brewed pot of tea, or even a snifter of apple brandy. Enjoy…

Bangers and Colcannon

Bonfire Night in Ireland means something completely different to Bonfire Night in England. In Ireland, Bonfire Night is on 23rd June to celebrate St John’s Eve, and like most of Ireland’s feast days, the roots are in Celtic pagan times that cross over into religious celebrations.

To burn bonfires on St John’s Eve is to herald the start of a good harvest as well as the usual pagan nods to fertility, and close to the summer solstice as well.

Penny for the Guy (

In England, Bonfire Night is 5th November and celebrates the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605 by Guy Fawkes to blow up Parliament, overthrow the Protestant King James I and restore Catholicism as the dominant faith. As kids, every year at home in Bristol, my sister and I would make an effigy of Guy Fawkes using old clothes donated by Dad or Grandad. The ends of the trouser legs were tied and stuffed with newspaper; an old shirt or jumper the same, the arms tied off at the end; and either a balloon or a plastic shopping bag, stuffed with paper with a face drawn on it for the head. Local kids would sit outside shops or go house to house with their Guy asking, “Penny for the Guy” and on Bonfire Night, Dad would place our Guy on top of the bonfire and light it. We’d let off fireworks in the back garden and hope the sparklers wouldn’t burn our hands! Afterwards, we’d all tuck into Bangers and Mash, hot apple juice and Cinder Toffee.

One of the first party nights I hosted at our home in West Cork was to recreate Guy Fawkes night. I remember that year feeling a little homesick and deeply nostalgic for the things I had grown up with and known my whole life. Ireland and England may only be a short hop across the Irish Sea, but at times, the customs and traditions can be hugely different. Bonfire Night being one of them. It was a crisp, clear chilly night, just like I remember from childhood. Bonfires and fireworks are illegal in Ireland, except for strictly controlled events, so instead we lit our firepit, wrote our names in the night air with sparklers, whacked a piñata and let off glitter bombs. Then we all tucked into our food and warmed our hands around hot cups of mulled cider, apple juice for the children, and stood around the fire pit sharing stories.

What precisely constitutes Colcannon is ferociously debated in Ireland. I recently attended a talk about it where I learned that in some parts of New Foundland where there is a huge Irish ex-pat community going back generations, their Colcannon doesn’t have any potatoes in it all! In Wexford, it’s quite typical to have parsnips in the Colcannon, or to boil the potatoes and cabbage together and mash it up in one big pot. But it would always have cabbage in it – although traditionally not Kale.

However, Kale is a type of brassica, so while it might not be the traditional variety of cabbage usually the staple of Irish Colcannon, I like it and, along with the scallion/spring onions, and an almost obscene amount of butter, makes for a seriously tasty plate of spuds. When it comes to the bangers (sausages), get the best quality you can and cook slowly – I usually place them in a cold frying pan and cook for up to 30 minutes over a low to medium heat turning every five minutes or so. Likewise, with the onion gravy: take your time! Time is the secret ingredient in truly brilliant onion cookery, so don’t rush it. Comfort food should never be rushed anyway – in my mind both the cooking and eating of food like this is what calms the soul and nourishes the body.

Bangers & Colcannon


  • 8 pork sausages, minimum meat content 80%
  • 1 kg of floury potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 250 g butter, cubed
  • 50 ml whole milk
  • Bunch of Russian Kale (apx 2 handfuls)
  • 4 scallions
  • 1 tbsp parsley (any kind), finely chopped
  • 4 medium red onions, peeled, halved and sliced
  • Olive oil and butter
  • 100 ml red wine
  • Fresh thyme leaves
  • 250 ml chicken or beef stock
  • Salt and pepper


  • Place the sausages into a cold frying pan, place over a low heat and cook slowly, turning every few minutes to brown all over. Add a little olive oil if your sausages are a high meat, low fat content. Depending on the size of sausages, cooking could take up 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, place the potatoes into a pan of salted water, bring to the boil. Do not cook to the point of mush, the potatoes must hold their shape.
  • Drain and allow to airdry in a colander for 10 minutes. Return to the pan and break the potatoes down with a masher, if you have a potato ricer you can use that instead. Begin to the add the butter a few cubes at a time and beat through using a wooden spoon. Repeat until you have a creamy texture. You may not need to use all the butter.
  • Add the milk, you may not need all the milk, it depends how floury your potatoes are.
  • I prefer not to cook my kale and scallions. The kale will wilt gently amongst the warm potatoes and that is sufficient. Remove the kale stems and finely slice the leaves. Top and tail the scallions and finely slice into rounds. Mix all through the potatoes with the chopped parsley.
  • Season with black pepper and salt to taste.
  • Place the colcannon into a serving dish, cover with parchment paper and place in the oven, no more than 100 degrees Celsius, to keep warm.
  • For the onion gravy, into a saucepan over a low-medium heat, add a glug of olive oil and a knob of butter. Add the onions and stir to coat with the fats. Cover with a lid and cook the onions down slowly, stirring every now and again. The onions should brown but be careful not to burn. This should take between 15-20 minutes, the longer the better.
  • Add the red wine and allow the alcohol to cook off for a minute. Then add stock and thyme leaves. Stir and cook uncovered for the stock to reduce and thicken.
  • Serve up the sausages on a large serving platter, alongside the bowl of creamy colcannon and a large jug of the onion gravy.


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