Friday, January 5, 2018

The Liss Ard Menu

The next book in my County Cork Mysteries, Many a Twist, will be released next Tuesday. All the familiar characters will be there, and a few will spill some secrets, but there will also be some new faces.

While the heart of the story is always Maura’s pub, Sullivan’s, a lot happens in and around an upscale local hotel, based on a real one in Skibbereen, known as the Liss Ard Estate. It started out as a manor house for one of the important local families, but since then it’s served many purposes under many different owners, and right now it’s a hotel (a fate many of the big old manor houses share).

According to their website, the Liss Ard Estate “is a place of enchantment and relaxation set on 163 acres of gorgeous countryside and an amazing 50-acre lake! The country house was built in 1853 by the O'Donovan chiefs and it became the last of their Georgian style houses to be built.”

A smaller building, Lake House, was added to the property as a summer residence for the O'Donovans.

It also has a high-end restaurant (and they report that they serve “an exquisite Afternoon Tea,” by appointment only—I haven’t tried it yet). The menu makes delicious reading, even though I have to laugh at some of the terms they use, like “burnt figs.” But their flavor pairings are intriguing.

So I decided to try to replicate one of their main courses, in honor of Many a Twist. Of course I had to tweak it a bit, but I’m aiming for the spirit of their dishes.

Wild Mushroom Risotto with Truffle Oil and Crispy Onions


1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms (I used a mix of mushrooms)

Note: wild mushrooms seem to flourish in late fall in Ireland. I assume the Liss Ard chefs use what is available. These are some that I’ve seen (and no, I didn’t cook any of them).

I have no idea what these are, and, no, I didn't eat
any of them! But they were thriving in November.
5 cups broth (chicken, beef, or 
2 Tblsp finely chopped shallots
3 Tblsp butter
2 Tblsp vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups uncooked rice (preferably Arborio)


In a large saucepan, bring the broth to a slow simmer and hold it at that temperature.

Melt the butter in another saucepan and add the oil.  Add the shallots and sauté until they are translucent (do not brown).  Add the chopped mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms give up their juices.

Add the rice and stir until the rice grains are well-coated with the butter-oil mixture.  

Add one-half cup of the simmering broth and stir until the rice absorbs all the liquid (make sure you get all the grains clinging to the sides of the pan).  Then add another one-half cup of liquid and continue to stir over low heat, making sure the rice doesn't stick to the bottom. Continue adding the broth and stirring, but wait each time until all the broth is absorbed before adding any more (yes, this takes some time, and a lot of stirring, but the result is worth it).

Toward the end it will take longer for the broth to be absorbed after each addition, but you will notice that the mixture is becoming creamy.

After about 20 minutes, taste a single grain of rice to see if it is cooked through. If the core of the grain is still hard and white, continue adding liquid and testing until it's done. In total it should take about 30 minutes.  Don't worry if you didn't use all five cups of the broth—rice can vary. Taste a bit and add salt only if needed.

Crispy Onions


1 large yellow onion (or two smaller 
   ones)2 eggs
2 Tblsp whole milk
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
vegetable oil for frying (to a depth of two inches in your pan)


Slice the onion into quarter-inch slices, then cut each slice into quarters. Toss to separate the small pieces.

Heat two inches of oil in a deep-sided skillet or fry pan (I used my mother’s crock pot, which doubles as a fryer) to 350 degrees.

In a mid-size bowl, mix the eggs and milk together. In a second bowl, mix the flour and spices together.

Gather up a handful of onions at a time, and dip them into the egg mixture. Let the excess liquid drip off. Then place the onions in the flour and toss to coat. Again, shake off the excess (if they seem too gummy, you could use a sieve and shake well).

Place the onions in the hot oil (watch out for spatter!) and cook until they are golden brown. (Do not crowd or they might boil over—you can do this in batches, but be sure to let the oil reach the proper temperature before adding the next batch.)

Crispy onions!

Remove the onions from the oil and place on paper towels to absorb the oil.

You will note that the Liss Ard dish includes truffle oil. I actually have truffle oil! (And truffle butter too!). I’m not sure where it goes. Use sparingly, because it has a strong flavor. You can sprinkle it over the cooked risotto to amplify the taste of whatever mushrooms you’ve used, or over the onions, or both.

The risotto is creamy, and the onions add a nice bit of crunch as well as flavor.

And here's the book!

How far would you go to protect your family? 

Pub owner Maura Donovan hasn’t seen her mother for over twenty years, so when she suddenly shows up in Maura’s pub, Maura’s not sure what to expect. Her mother made a new life for herself back home and has taken up a position working with the new owners of the Crann Mor hotel just outside Skibbereen. Then her new boss is found dead in the hotel gardens, dumped down the hillside behind the hotel.

Now, trying to rekindle the relationship they’ve lost, Maura must investigate the man’s death in order to clear her mother’s name. It’s not so easy though, as long-time residents of County Cork, including her employee Mick, and the family of the deceased hotel owner, have bottled deep dark family secrets not meant to be uncorked. And someone will kill to keep them that way.

The reviews have captured the heart of the story.

“Plenty of puzzles with a strong feeling for life in small-town Ireland.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Connolly vividly evokes rural Ireland, and her characters seem like real human beings trying their best to navigate their lives.”
Publishers Weekly

Coming January 9, 2018, from Crooked Lane Books. Available now for preorder!


  1. I can hardly wait for you to tour the hotel and estate and share the photos!

  2. I can’t wait to read the latest! And the risotta looks delicious.

  3. I think I can do this one, with some minor changes. Veggie broth, and stick margarine instead of butter. The onions would also have to have a change. Forget about the truffle oil since I have no idea where to buy that here in Brooklyn (must be certified kosher also).

  4. I’m having internet issues today. The risotto looks wonderful. Can’t wait to tead the new County Cork story!

  5. This sounds divine!
    Really looking forward to the new book.