Alastair Hendy’s – Home Cook

Alastair Hendy’s name may not be familiar to many over here but readers of the Sunday Times who were devastated when his column was discontinued, are thrilled to find his lively prose, tempting recipes and evocative photos in the Mail on Sunday You Magazine. He also writes in a myriad of other magazines and publications.
I’m a fan and even more so since we met at Tasting Australia in Adelaide a couple of years ago. He and Kevin Gould, two culinary whizz kids were so kind to me and included me in many of their trips and events even though I was old enough to be their granny.
Alastair is an entirely self-taught eclectic cook, passionate about food and the quality of ingredients. He has written for numerous magazines and presented a 20-programme series ‘No Meat Required’ which was screened on Carlton Food Network. He takes beautiful photographs – he’s an inveterate traveller spending much of his time in India, South East Asia (Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia), Sri Lanka, Europe, USA, Central and South America and North Africa, all of which have influenced his eclectic cooking style.
His latest book ‘Home Cook’ with more than 150 recipes is described as an honest, fuss-free up-to-the-minute cookery bible that shows you how to magic a proper dinner with one hand while downing a glass or two with friends with the other. Well I found lots of really tempting recipes from favourite comfort snacks to exotic Pad Thai Noodles and White and Dark Chocolate Tira Misu. We also greatly enjoyed Honey Roast Drumsticks and Sticky Asian Pork and Herb Salad.
Home Cook by Alastair Hendy, published by Headline in 2004. 

Delicious Shrimp pad Thai noodles

300g dried rice stick noodles, or other rice noodles
5cm white radish or 4 regular radishes, finely shredded
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp castersugar
fish sauce
2 hot red chillies, sliced into rings
500g uncooked tiger prawns
2 big handfuls beansprouts
3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
3 large eggs
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely sliced
6 spring onions, cut into short lengths
4 tbsp roasted peanuts, crushed
1 tsp ground dried chilli or chilli flakes
handfuls of coriander leaves

The secret here, as with all stir-frying, is to have all your stuff ready for the pan, then it’s a simple process of slinging things in when you come to cook. First, soak the noodles. Toss the radish with the rice vinegar in a small bowl, and leave for about 30 minutes, then lift up from its vinegar bath and put on one side. Stir the sugar, 2 tbsp of the fish sauce and 1 tbsp water into the vinegar. Pop the chilli rings into small dipping bowls filled with fish sauce ready for serving. Now, display everything – including the prawns and beansprouts – in little piles or in bowls by the hob, ready for the off.
To cook, heat about 1 tbsp oil in your wok and swirl around, then crack in the eggs and scramble them: once they begin to set, keep scraping up and jumbling over until they start to gain a little golden colour, then scrape out into a small bowl. Next, heat 2 tbsp of oil in the wok and chuck in the garlic. After about 20 seconds, chuck in the prawns and stir-fry until they turn pink. Throw in the shallots, then stir in the vinegar mixture and let it bubble up, then tip in the noodles, vinegared radish, spring onions and peanuts and stir-fry for about 2 minutes or until the noodles have absorbed the liquid. Chuck in the beansprouts, sprinkle over the dried chilli, and once more stir through. Pile on to plates and scatter with coriander. Zing it up by adding rings of chilli and dribbles of hot fish sauce as you eat.
The Ballymaloe Cookery School

White and dark chocolate tiramisu

Makes 6 pots or you could put it all in one dish
2 medium eggs
caster sugar
500g mascarpone cheese
250ml double cream, plus 2 tbsp.
100ml strong, freshly brewed coffee
3 tbsp Kahlua liqueur, or other coffee liqueur
1 packet sponge finger biscuits
1 tbsp.shelled hazelnuts, roasted and ground
100g white chocolate, broken into pieces
150g dark bitter chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces

Using a hand whisk, beat the eggs with 2 tbsp of the sugar until pale, then beat in the mascarpone and the 2 tbsp. double cream until the mixture is smooth. Mix the coffee with another 2-3 tsp of sugar and the liqueur, then dunk each sponge finger briefly into this. Layer the soaked fingers into the base of each dish or pot, about four per serving. Dribble a tbsp. more of the coffee mixture over each, sprinkle with hazelnuts, then spoon the mascarpone on top, gently pushing down to fill any gaps.
Melt the white chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. As soon as it has melted, allow it to cool, just a little. Meanwhile, beat the double cream until it forms soft peaks, then beat the white chocolate into the cream. Spoon on top of the mascarpone, level off and refrigerate until needed.
To serve, melt the dark chocolate (in the same way as the white chocolate), then once cooled a tad, pour over each serving, and take to the table straightaway. Delicious.

Sticky Asian Pork and Herb Salad

3 tbsp unsalted skinned peanuts
500g free-range pork fillet (or chicken breast)
3 tsp five-spice powder
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 sticks lemongrass, trimmed and finely shredded
3 large mild red chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 shallots, finely chopped
3 tbsp Asian dressing (see recipe)
½ large cos lettuce or other crisp leaves, torn up
handful each of basil, mint and coriander leaves
1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded and shredded
4 spring onions, finely shredded lengthways
2 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil

Scatter the peanuts over a roasting tray, then toast in a 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 over for about 15 minutes, shaking once or twice, or until evenly brown all over. Then crush them to chunky crumbs. They’ll keep like this, sealed in a tub, for a good month or more – so do extra if you make lots of South-East Asian things.

Slice the meat into 1cm thick sections and toss with the five-spice powder. Then mix the sugar with the fish sauce, soy sauce, lemongrass, chilli, garlic and shallot, tip this over the seasoned sliced pork, and stir through. Leave to marinate for about an hour if you can – although the results are still damn good if you’re time-poor and have to sling it straight in the pan. Next, toss the Asian dressing with the torn-up cos leaves, herbs, cucumber, spring onion and toasted crumbled nuts.

Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan and fry the marinated port without moving for about 1 minute, then turn and fry for another minute, then sling over any remaining marinade and cook until varnished brown and sticky. To serve, fold the pork with all its caramelised bits and bobs through the dressed salad leaves and other ingredients. And dig in.

Asian Dressing

This is the dressing that turns bland into fantastic. It’s dairy free, oil free and – not that this ever dictates what I eat – it’s healthy, so a great one if you’re clocking the calories. It has to be a classic now. It’s simply what the Vietnamese use as a dipping sauce. Add a handful of crushed and toasted peanuts on top of any pile of bits and pieces tossed with this and you’re off. A little goes a long way, so use more sparingly than, say, a French dressing. And add a drop of oil, if you prefer. And if you want to use it as a dipping sauce, dilute with 1 tbsp of water.
2 small red bird’s eye chillies (finely sliced)
2 cloves garlic (crushed in a press)
3 tbsp caster sugar
4 tbsp each of fish sauce, lime juice and rice vinegar

Whisk together all the ingredients (or shake up in a screw-top jar) until the sugar has dissolved, then leave to stand for about 20 minutes to allow the chilli and garlic to do their thing. Easy.

Foolproof Food

Honey Roast Drumsticks from ‘Home Cook by Alastair Hendy’

This recipe evolves at home constantly – and every family has their own version. You can add some grated ginger if you have some.
8 chicken drumsticks or thighs, skin on or off
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp. runny honey
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp roughly chopped rosemary
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Lay the chicken across a roasting tin, then salt and pepper it. Next, dribble, spill and sprinkle over the remaining flavourings and oil, and then jumble the chicken pieces around a bit so they become well coated. Leave them like this until you’re ready to cook. Jumble through again just before you roast them.
Roast the tray of chicken in a 220C/ 425F/gas 7 oven for 35 minutes, remembering to turn the pieces over midway. Then remove the tin from the oven, cover with foil and leave on one side for 10 minutes, the meat will carry on cooking a little and will have time to relax and become succulent. I know they’re only legs but this relaxing time makes all the difference.

Hot Tips
4th Annual Slow Sea Food Festival at Baltimore – Sunday 30th May on the The Pier in Baltimore, West Cork.
Music all day by the ‘Cheesemakers’, over 20 Irish Producers selling their own food. Buffet using fresh fish caught at Baltimore and produce from local growers. It coincides with ‘The Baltimore Wooden Boats Festival’ and ‘David Owen’s Oyster Festival’ – so lots and lots of reasons to come! Contact Clodagh McKenna on 023-52977 or  

Galway Student in a league of his own 
At Irish Pork competition

Simon Tracey of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology cooked the winning dish for the Irish Pork Competition Final. The aim of the competition and cookery course, co-ordinated by Bord Bia, The Panel of Chefs of Ireland, the IAPP and the IFA, is to increase the presence of Irish pork on menus throughout Ireland and to educate students with regard to Irish Pork ‘from Farm to Fork’. 

Catering students from 8 IT Colleges nationwide participated in the final of the cookery competition, in which they cooked their chosen pork dish. Simon, from Ballinasloe was awarded a certificate, a trophy and a €1,000 cash prize. He also received sponsorship to the value of €2,000 for a pork related project to be carried out as part of his college course. All five finalists received a €250 book voucher and a gold medal. As part of the training course, students saw how pigs are reared, how a processing plant operates. They also received a presentation on Bord Bia’s Pigmeat Quality Assurance Scheme and a presentation on Research and Development in pig production by
Teagasc. One hundred and twenty students from colleges nationwide were involved in a series of information open days on pork production and processing. 

St Tola Organic Goat Cheeses – are produced by Siobhan Ni Ghairbhidh at Inagh in Co Clare – Siobhan was trained by Meg and Derrick Gordon, the original St Tola Cheesemakers –their commitment is to produce local organic hand crafted goat cheeses, whose flavours represent the characteristics of the locality. These cheeses are made on a daily basis and they are committed to organic farming and traditional cheese-making methods. They are finding pressure from cheaper processed substitutes and pressure on price rather than quality. They have ample supplies of the St Tola range and are listed with all the main wholesalers in Ireland – they are dependent on like-minded customers who are committed to quality regional foods, and whom they ask to support them by insisting on getting St Tola from their cheese wholesaler, or else contact them directly Tel 065-6836633 Fax 065-6836757

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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