Friday, September 27, 2013

Who doesn't smile when they see an elephant?

                               And the next question is:  how can we make elephants smile back? 

  Asha and Anak, two Asian female elephants, happily
apply their new mud packs to enhance their beauty

Well, it’s a funny story, one between a caring zoo and a potter in the Irish countryside.  Less than a handful of zoos around the world use a happy-time feel-good technique for giving joy to zoo bound elephants and that technique is giving them loads of mud to play with.  Picking up the idea through zoo conferences in the US, one of the Dublin Zoo elephant keepers put two and two together and decided to contact Irish potter Nick Mosse.  Nick uses the best sort of mud for elephants called slip (or engobe).  He makes his own in large quantities to cover his hand thrown ware, so  his production was  large enough even for elephants, and he was delighted to be asked to help.
  Anak waves a greeting of delight---“Look how great this is!”

The idea was to create a ‘mud bog’ for elephants, full of slippy sticky mud to slurp and toss and trumpet all over the place and each other.  The Zoo created a large hole and Nick obliged by mixing up and shipping 5000 litres of liquid clay up to the zoo in Dublin, where it was dumped into the hole in the elephant enclosure.

So here comes the smiley joy bit:  ever since the cuddle puddles were installed, all the elephants have been having a wonderful time.  Just take a look at these pictures, or better still, pay a visit to the Dublin Zoo.  It’s all wonderful!

The group inspects the new facility,
with disbelieving friend nearby.
Down she goes.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Seedy Story

Nick and Inga during first
brainstorm session
A couple of months ago, we heard there was to be a show during our local Kilkenny Arts Festival, and this show was to feature quite a large group of crafts people from the area called MADE.  Nick doesn’t usually have time to join into such nice events but this year, as it was the 50th anniversary of an organization promoting Irish design (Kilkenny Design Workshops), he decided to meet the challenge.  And to make the effort appropriate, he and Susan decided to make it a team effort: they began a collaborative project with Inga Reed, a fabulous jeweler living in Kilkenny.

Inge’s dream idea and wish was for Nick to create some charming, small pots for her to use when she enjoys her dukkah.  Her what?  Yes, we all asked: what on earth is dukkah? Inga, being completely offhand, replied that Oh, you know, that Morrocan seed mixture that you dump your bread in….
So, Nick got to work on creating Inga’s dream and Susan got to work on DUKKAH!

Various versions and recipes exist and it is such a simple concept, that you can make it as complicated and as personal as you wish. It isn’t even Morrocan per se, but considered more of an Egyptian delicacy.  Dukkah is made from:

The Dukkah in its own pot with friend oil pot nearby.
            Nuts, 8 parts (usually hazelnuts, shelled 
            and lightly roasted)
            Sesame seeds, 8 parts
            Cumin seed, 1 part
            Coriander seed, 1 part
            Fennel seed (I part, and optional)
            White peppercorns 1 part

You could also add some chili flakes if you’re that sort of person, and definitely add salt to taste.  The process is to pan roast all the seeds lightly and then bung them into a food processor with the nuts for a short amount of time.  My hint would be to use a heavy iron skillet and do smallish batches, turning constantly so they don’t burn.

Dukkah, thank you Inga, is one of the most delicious treats ever!  Take your favorite bread, dump it into good olive oil, than head over to the dukkah and dip away. Heaven.

Fresh Dukkah pots out of the 
kiln, on the way to Inga.

Well, two months on, it’s all coming together and it has been a beautiful and delicious trip!  Even the dukkah. And so, when the exhibition opens next week, everyone will be able to see Nick’s tiny, exquisite engine turned, basalt dishes, surmounted by Inga’s intriguing silver work. A truly cooperative effort from two talented people who would never usually do such items.  When  svelte and beautiful Inga is asked at the exhibition why the dishes are so tiny, I’m sure she’ll say because ‘dukkah is sooo fattening!’

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

For The Love Of All Things Cheese

We asked Ron and Mona Wise to share their recipe for an American family staple at dinner time – “Mac n’ Cheese”. Mona’s blog – Wise Words, which she writes from her home in Galway – is about her life as the wife of a chef and cooking for their gang of children. Last year, Wise Words, swept three categories in the Blog Awards as Best Food & Wine Blog, Best Photo Blog and Best Blog of a Journalist and then scooped Best Overall Blog. Last year she also published her first book, The Chef and I, which is a personal account of their lives with food and as parents mixed in with a great range of recipes.

Ron and Mona write a weekly column for The Sunday Times and this is one of their “cheesy” recipes that was published in April.

“We will not be snobby when it comes to our love of cheese around here. Irish goat or a block of Swiss gruyere or a wheel of irresistible Italian parmesan cheese; We love it all. A tantalising Talleggio, or a must eat with raw onion scoop of the French creamy rustique cheese, all bring comfort to the kitchen when there is nothing to eat in the fridge. A packet of Sheridans brown bread crackers and a small sip of Galway Hooker beer and we have supper sorted. Cheese, however, can be quite heavy and learning how to incorporate it into your diet and ensuing you do not end up with a belly full of indigestible cheese. The Swiss like to sip on a small drop of Kirschwasser - a clear and colourless brandy typically made from Morello cherries - aiding in the digestion of cheese when they eat fondue, but we find that sipping on one of our excellent Irish craft beers (like Galway Hooker or a glass of Howling Gale Ale from Eight Degrees) works wonders too.

When reaching for the recipe books this week, we thought it would be interesting to take a ‘non typical’ cheese dish and try to make it with as much Irish cheese as possible and see how we faired out. We are fortunate, living in Galway, that our cheese experts (Sheridans Cheesemongers) are only a stones throw away.
Dubliner cheese is created using a small amount of Italian parmesan rennet and comes close to fabulous for a quick fix when in need for a hard grating cheese.

This recipe is the family staple served in the US (sometimes more than once a week), good old fashioned macaroni and cheese. A fast and satisfying dish, mac ‘n cheese can be whipped up in a mad hurry. The pasta (best to use small elbow macaroni) cooks in a few minutes and lets face it, cheese melts fast. We like to keep ours on the spicy side and the addition of smoked rashers helps you really make a meal out of it.”

Smoked bacon mac n’ cheese


I know. Mac n’ cheese reeks ‘American food’ and not very healthy to boot, but there is something to be said for making this iconic American dish with Irish cheese and Irish rashers. A smoky hunk of salt cured Irish pork, dice and cooked until crisp, swimming in a rich creamy cheese sauce will win you over. Good goods come in small packages so portion this off to the freezer for a quick side dish when needed.

What you will need:
450 g rigatoni pasta (cooked)
225 g onion, chopped
100 g garlic, diced
335 g smoked bacon, diced
90 g butter
55 g flour
1 tsp cayenne pepper
480 ml milk
225 g grated cheese (Cheddar)
2 eggs
2 Tbsp butter
For the topping
60 g garlic, diced
120 g fresh breadcrumbs
50 g grated parmesan (for topping)

Mona served up her Mac N'Chese in our large rectangular ovenware dish in our Forget Me Not pattern.

How to prepare it

Sauté the onions, garlic and smoked ham in butter until the onions have softened. Add the cayenne and flour and sauté for five minutes. Pour in the milk and whisk until smooth. Add the cheese, remove from the heat as you stir in the cheese and then add the eggs. Once the mixture has a smooth consistency add in the pasta. Top with fresh breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Bake at 200ºC for 20 minutes or until golden.

To make fresh breadcrumbs grate two or three slices of stale bread and add the raw garlic to it and fresh herbs such as parsley or chives if desired.


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

We asked Margaret O’Farrell, who writes a blog called A Year in Redwood where she chronicles her life as a former city girl, now a country girl and pig farmer, to do a blog post about entertaining at home. Her blog won Best Lifestyle Blog at the Blog Awards 2012 last October.
Margaret and Alfie grow freerange, gmo-free pigs in North Tipperary.  They have grown their pork and bacon business under the Oldfarm ( brand, selling pork directly to homes and restaurants throughout the country. 

Margaret told us, “We do quite a bit of entertaining here, between folks coming on pig-rearing courses and friends coming to stay.  Sometimes I find I can get stuck in a bit of a rut; always turning to the same tried and tested recipes!  Does this happen to others?  Every so often I have to have a ‘talk with myself’ and convince myself to try new recipes.

I know, I know, you are not supposed to try ‘new’ recipes on guests, but if they are friends I am sure they won’t mind.

So here’s a recipe I’d like to share with you.   If you like curries, which we do in this house, you will love these accompaniments.  Whatever your favourite curry recipe is... it will look really good served with this Raita and Chutney.  Curries make for easy and casual entertaining, and this little side dishes, make the presentation look really good.

Both dishes add a ‘cooling’ effect to a curry, which was certainly needed as I served them with Hugh Fernley Wittingstall’s goat curry .( Let me tell you that Hugh’s is soooooo sooooo hot! :)  If you like a hot spicy curry, it is definitely one to try.

The chutney can be made a few days ahead, and the raita only takes a few minutes to pull together - always useful when entertaining.
Old Rose vegetable bowl to left, Old Rose small angled bowl to right.

350 ml/12 fl oz/1 1/2 cups natural yoghurt
75 g/3 oz seedless grapes
2 firm bananas
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp freshly ground cumin seeds
1/4 tsp roasted cumin seeds to garnish.

Place the yoghurt in a chilled bowl.  Add the grapes and sliced bananas, and fold in gently.  Add the sugar, and ground cumin continuing to mix gently.  Chill in fridge and just before serving sprinkle over the toasted cumin seeds.

 Mango Chutney
(This amount makes about 3 - 4 jars).

4 tbsp malt vinegar
1/2 tsp crushed dried chillies
6 cloves
6 peppercorns
1 tsp roasted cumin seeds
1/2 tsp onion seeds
175 g/6 oz/ three-quarters cup sugar
450g/1 lb green (unripe mango, peeled and cubed.
5 cm/2 in long piece of ginger, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
thin peel of 1 orange or lemon (optional)

Put the spices and sugar in a saucepan with the vinegar.  Simmer for about 15 minutes on low heat to allow the spices infuse into the vinegar.

Add the mango, ginger, garlic and peel.  Simmer until the mango is mushy and most of the vinegar has evaporated.  This can take as much as three-quarters of an hour on a slow simmer.

Pour into sterilized jars.  Leave for a few days before serving.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Edward Hayden Launches new book -Food For Friends

Edward Hayden lives very near Nicholas Mosse Pottery in Kilkenny. He is a big fan of our pottery and regularly uses our pieces on his cookery slot on TV3's Ireland AM and also at his numerous demonstrations around the country.
Today he launches his latest and third cookbook - Food for Friends with O'Brien Press - so we wanted to congratulate him and wish him the best of luck with it. We also wanted to share his delicious recipe for Asian Crusted Salmon which was photographed by Carol Marks in our large rectangular Old Rose ovenware dish.
For more details about Edward and his books -

Asian Crusted Salmon
I love the combination of oriental flavours in this dish, and it's a perfect option as part of a buffet lunch or supper. Salmon is a popular dish in Irish homes, but sometimes it needs a helping hand flavour-wise and with this fragrant marinade and unusual nutty crust it will become a staple at your dinner parties and special family celebrations.
Serves 12
12 salmon darnes/fillets
2 tablespoons honey
4 fl oz/110ml soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 inch root ginger, crushed
6oz/175g cashew nuts, roughly crushed
grated zest & juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons coriander, chopped
1/2 red chilli, finely diced
So Serve:
Mixed salad leaves
Lime wedges
Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl.
Add in the salmon darnes and mix well to ensure they are completely coated.
Leave the salmon darnes to marrinae for a least 30 minutes; if time allows, 2-3 hours would be even better (but not overnight as it is just too strong).
Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the crust.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Line two baking trays with some baking parchment (or use an ovenware dish). Place the salmon darnes and the marinade into the trays, six on each and divide the nutty crust between the salmon darnes and bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven, allow to cool down and refrigerate overnight.
To serve, arrange some mixed lettuce leaves onto a large serving platter, arranged the chilled and crusted salmon darnes on top and garnish with lime wedges.
Note: This salmon is also delicious served warm with a tasty noodle stir fry or some steamed green vegetables. This cooking method can also be used for other fish such as seabass or monkfish.
Happy Entertaining!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Susan Mosse Describes the Process of Designing our New Clover Pattern


Susan Mosse tells how she came up with the newest introduction to our range – Clover.

“I’m occasionally asked how we come up with our new patterns here at Nicholas Mosse, so I thought it might be fun to take you through the various stages of design.  Sometimes an idea and pattern will emerge almost fully formed, in minutes (!), but far more often is takes weeks, months, and occasionally a year or two to get a pattern ‘right’. 

I almost always start off with a serious study of a subject; in this case, the clover found throughout Ireland was my initial heart throb.  It is, when looked at VERY closely, an intriguing plant, with a curving, glorious pattern of growth.  Next time you’re in a meadow, get down on your hands and knees and have a good look! As I sit at a desk with my watercolours and tiny brushes, the act of painting forces me to get very up close and personal, and the attached picture shows some of the work I’ve done on clover in the last couple of years.

After this serious stuff, I throw it all away and think about ‘rhythm’ in the motif.  I sketch freely and almost crazily until a line or set of shapes appeals to me.  Then I stop and concentrate, asking myself why I like what I’ve done and how it would apply to ceramics.  I do have to remember what the application will be: plates, mugs, etc. It’s not to hang on a wall (necessarily!). 

So, with this bunch of initial shapes, I draw and condense and redraw and then redraw, each time altering the work.  Then, I trace and trace and place onto pieces of raw pottery.  All this is, I hasten to add, done BY HAND (no CAD for this stage, ever).  When I am pleased with the potential, I make the little sponge elements and play.  The more play the better! 

Colour is the next problem to solve and that’s where it can all go terribly wrong and take ages to correct.  With our new Clover pattern, I began with mauve pink and light green and it didn’t work at all.  After many trials with all sorts of blues, teals etc., I ended up with a clear medium blue and I ditched my original clover flower, switching over to a design I did for an Aster pattern, which never went into production.  Some of our Facebook followers guessed that I had used an aster, and hats off to them for their perception.  But the basic notion of trying to put an Irish meadow onto dinnerware seems to have succeeded and the pattern has been widely approved.  Two or three years after startoff!

Friday, May 25, 2012

New Fuchsia Range on our Website

Wishing you all a great weekend - our new Fuchsia range has now been uploaded onto our website so you can now buy  it online at

This is the Medium Cylinder Jug and below is the tiny jug.

This is the Fruit Bowl - from the side and below, from above.

 And this is the Medium Angled Jug, below.
Our retailers around Ireland and the world are finding this pattern is selling really well for them. Fuchsia grows wild here in Ireland during the summer especially in Cork and Kerry and we think this will work well for summer entertaining but be equally as appealing in the winter months.
We'd love to hear what you think!