Last week Antony Worrall Thompson was guest chef at the Ballymaloe Cookery School for the fourth time. Antony came with his lovely wife Jay who was one of my students just a few years ago.
The incorrigible star of BBC Food and Drink Programme and irrepressible sparring partner of Brian Turner on Ready Steady Cook charmed the students who had come from both Ireland and the UK to see him cook.
Half way through one day’s cooking he took time off to judge the Darina Allen Scarecrow Competition. Local National Schools in East Cork had submitted incredibly creative entries. The choice of prizewinner was almost unbearable. So Antony, being totally detached and impartial, eventually settled for Millennium Millie made by the 5th & 6th classes from Castlemartyr National School. The traditional Shell and Rag Lady Scarecrow from St. John the Baptist School in Midleton tied for second place, while the beautifully woven willow scarecrow from Cloyne National School came a close third. Ziggy from Lower Aghada was runner up.
The children were all delighted when they came out to collect their prizes, they fed the pigs and chickens and gobbled up Lydia’s pizzas and enjoyed Nessa’s homemade lemonade, Charlotte’s chocolate chip cookies and Marina’s smiles.
Antony Worrall Thompson went back to the kitchen and cooked many delicious dishes, including this gorgeous Ricotta Cake, Reblochon in Puff Pastry and Potato Pakora Salad.
RICOTTA FRUIT CAKE
(Serves 8 -12)
250g (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
250g (8oz) castor sugar
8 eggs, separated
zest of 2 oranges and 3 lemons, finely grated
200g(7 oz) mixed dried fruits (Antony used whole cranberries, whole cherries, whole blueberries and chopped apricots)
125g (4 oz) roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
275g (9 oz) ricotta
75g (3 oz) plain flour
1. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one by one, beating well between each addition.
2. In a separate bowl fold the fruit zests, fruit and nuts into the ricotta. Fold the butter and egg mix into the ricotta and fruit. Sift the flour into this mix and combine.
3. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Fold in one large spoon of the egg whites into the ricotta mix, once this is amalgamated fold in the remainder carefully, ensuring that you do not lose too much of the air.
4. Grease a 9″ x 2″ spring form cake tin sparingly with vegetable oil, pour in the mixture and bake in a 180°C oven for about 45 -60 minutes or until the tip of a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
4. When the cake is cool, spike it all over with a fork and dribble with the rosemary syrup.
125g (4oz) sugar
125g (4oz) water
2 Rosemary sprigs
Add sugar and water to a pan over medium heat and reduce. Add rosemary and infuse.
BAKED REBLOCHON EN CROUTE
1 whole Reblochon cheese, ripe and ready to eat
1 packet shop-bought puff pastry
1 egg yolk, mixed with a little water
8 slices garlic
8 mini branches of thyme
ground black pepper
Remove any plastic outer coating from the cheese. Make small slashes and push into the cheese a slice of garlic and a sprig of thyme into each cut. Sprinkle the cheese with black pepper.
Roll out the puff pastry to be slightly larger than the cheese. Completely wrap the cheese in the pastry, neatly tucking in the sides. Lightly brush with the egg yolk and water mix. Place on a non-stick baking tray and cook in a preheated 190ºC/380ºF/Gas mark 5 oven for 25-35 minutes, (you want the pastry to be golden and crisp).
To serve, cut into 4 wedges and serve immediately with warm crusty bread for an instant cheese fondue.
POTATO PAKORA SALAD
450g (1lb) potatoes, freshly cooked
85g (3 oz) besan (gram or chickpea flour)
40g (1½ oz) cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2-4 green chillies, seeded and finely chopped
115g (4 oz) green cabbage, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander leaves and stalks
200-240ml (7-8 fl oz) water
sunflower oil for deep-frying
1 avocado, peeled, de-stoned and cut into ½ inch slices
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate or 2 tablespoons tamarind juice
½-1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground roasted cumin
1½-2 tablespoons soft dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
175g (6 oz) Greek-style yogurt
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
1 tablespoons finely shopped fresh coriander leaves
6-8 finely chopped fresh mint leaves
Crush the potatoes lightly with a fork. Some of the potatoes should be mashed, but more should be left in small pieces.
Mix the besan, cornmeal, salt and fennel in a large bowl. Add chillies, cabbage, onion and chopped coriander. Stir in the potatoes and gradually add the water, adding enough to bind the mixture into a thick batter.
Heat the oil for deep-frying to 190°C/375°F/ or until a cube of day old bread browns in 45 seconds. Add dessertspoonfuls of the pakora batter to the hot oil, adding enough to cook a batch of pakoras in a single layer. Fry for about 5 minutes, until well browned. Drain on kitchen paper and continue cooking the remaining mixture in batches.
For the tamarind relish, dissolve the tamarind concentrate in 2 tablespoons hot water. If using tamarind juice, mix with 2 tablespoons cold water. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
For the yogurt relish, beat the yogurt with a fork and thoroughly mix in all the remaining ingredients.
To serve, arrange a portion of pakoras on a plate and top with avocado slices, then dribble over the relishes. Serve.
Antony Worrall Thompson’s latest book The ABC of AWT is published by Headline Book Publishing, 338 Euston Road, London NW1 3BH, ISBN No 0 7472 2116 2