These two recipes will make for a wonderful traditional home made meal, ideal for a Father’s Day lunch.

It is hard to beat a good roast of quality-assured Irish pork. It is a simple and very satisfying meal. Your butcher will remove the chine bone and trim the joint so that this rack of pork is ready for the oven. Make sure the crackling is on and add some sea salt to make it crispy. Pork and apple go very well together and this is really a delicious meal.

Irish strawberries are back in season. They really are the best and I love them with this Victoria sponge cake recipe. Last week, when we opened the restaurant again I was thrilled to receive a wonderful surprise present from strawberry grower Pat Clarke to celebrate us being back in business.

He had commissioned a beautiful painting of the front of our restaurant and cookery school. It is fabulous. Amelda and I are absolutely thrilled with it and very grateful to Pat.

It is great to be talking to customers again and one thing has struck me: I have been surprised by the number of men who tell me they have got into cooking over the last year. There really does seem to be a change. There is not much positive that can be said about COVID-19, but I am delighted to see the big increase in home cooking and people realising how much pleasure it brings.

Happy cooking,



Roast rack of pork with root vegetables

Serves eight to 10

2.25-2.75 kg (5-6 lb) rack of pork, chined and rind scored

1 large onion, thickly sliced

2 carrots, cut into thick slices on the diagonal

2 celery sticks, cut in half

1 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra

200ml (7fl oz) white wine Gravy, to serve

apple sauce, to serve

For the marinade:

2 tbsp olive oil

2–3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp fennel seeds, toasted

juice and rind of 1 lemon

For the roasted vegetables:

10 red onions, cut into large chunks

10 carrots, cut into large chunks

10 small parsnips, cut into large chunks

10 potatoes, cut into large chunks

3 tbsp olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 A day ahead, if possible, marinate the pork. Mix the olive oil, garlic, fennel seeds, lemon juice and rind together in a small bowl. Place the pork in a shallow non-metallic dish that will fit into the fridge comfortably. Spread over the marinade, then cover with cling film. Leave in the fridge overnight to allow the flavours to penetrate the flesh.
  • 2 Preheat the oven to 240°C (475°F/gas mark 9). Take the pork out of the oven half an hour before you plan to cook it. Put the slices of onion, carrot and celery in a large roasting tin, then season well and drizzle over a little oil. Pour in the wine to the side and place the marinated pork on top. Season with salt and put in the oven, then immediately turn the heat down to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6) and roast for 2 hours, until cooked through and tender, basting halfway through.

  • 3 After the pork has been cooking for 1 hour, put on the roasted vegetables. Toss the red onions, carrots, parsnips and potatoes in the olive oil in a separate roasting tin and season to taste, then place on the top shelf above the pork. Roast for 45-50 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to caramelise. Toss once or twice to ensure they cook evenly.

  • 4 When the pork is cooked, take it out of the oven and transfer to a carving board to rest. How does the crackling look? If it doesn’t look crispy enough, use a sharp knife to peel the skin away from the layer of fat and the meat. Put this crackling back into the oven on a baking sheet for another 5-10 minutes, until crisp and golden. Cover the meat with a layer of tin foil and a clean tea towel and put aside while you make the gravy and apple sauce.

  • 5 To serve, carve the pork into thick or thin slices and arrange on warmed plates with chunks of the crackling. Serve with the gravy, apple sauce and roasted vegetables.

    Victoria sponge cake with strawberries

    Serves six

    Victoria sponge cake with strawberries. \ Food styling: Janine Kennedy. Photography: Claire Jeanne Nash

    knob of butter, for greasing

    150g (5oz) caster sugar

    5 eggs, at room temperature

    1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways and seeds scraped out

    175g (6oz) self-raising flour, sifted

    250g (9oz) strawberries

    150ml (¼ pint) cream

    3-4 tbsp strawberry conserve or jam

    icing sugar, to dust

  • 1 Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4). Lightly grease 2 x 20cm (8in) sponge cake tins with butter and line with nonstick baking paper.
  • 2 Place the sugar, eggs and vanilla seeds in a large bowl. Using either a hand or electric whisk, beat the mixture until it fills over half the bowl and has the consistency of lightly whipped cream.
  • 3 Using a dessertspoon, gently fold in the sifted flour and continue folding until all the flour is fully absorbed. Divide the batter between the prepared cake tins and cook for 15-20 minutes, until well risen and golden brown and the cake comes slightly away from the tin. Turn out onto wire racks and leave to cool completely.
  • 4 To serve, hull the strawberries, then dice two-thirds and cut the remainder into quarters. Whip the cream in a bowl until soft peaks form. Spread the strawberry conserve or jam on one side of a sponge, almost but not quite to the edge, and scatter over the diced strawberries, then cover with half of the whipped cream. Carefully place the other sponge on top to cover the filling completely. Add a light dusting of icing sugar and place on a cake stand. Put the rest of the whipped cream into a piping bag and pipe rosettes around the edge of the cake, then top each one with a strawberry quarter. Put straight on the table and cut into slices to serve.