The Horror of the tsunami

The shocking news of the tsunami came as a sobering wake-up call in the midst of all the jollity of the festive season.
The horror of recent terrorist atrocities seemed to pale in comparison to the death toll in this natural disaster of epic proportions – we may never know exactly how many perished along the shores of the Indian Ocean but we all saw in horrifying detail the death, destruction, and heartbreak of those whose lives were shattered in just a few seconds.
Like September 11th, many people know or will know people who were affected.
We were all heartbroken to discover that one of our much-loved students who did a 12 week course with us in January 2000 perished – her sister is desperately badly injured and is fighting for her life in a hospital in Bangkok. Other acquaintances of our daughter were more fortunate, they had been camping on a beach in Phuket and decided to go rock-climbing that morning. They heard the commotion and looked down in horror to see the wave sweep over their camp spot and sweep away everyone and everything in its path – they are traumatized but safe.
Yet another friend of a friend holidaying in PhiPhi came back from lunch to find her deck chair seconded by a large gentleman who refused to move, furiously she moved to a place on higher ground - she survived and sadly he did not.
Others told us of their friends who opened their new hotel in Phuket on Christmas Eve, a husband and wife team – she is confirmed dead and he’s missing, as are three of their friends who went out for the opening to support them.
Whether one knows anyone or not is completely irrelevant – what has been exercising so many people’s minds is how can we help? Many people have already dug deep in their pockets and contributed to various charities, many of whom are working around the clock to reach the affected areas and deliver desperately needed supplies.
Yet the heartbreak goes on, many of these areas have no social services or health system, many not only lost their homes and belongings but all means of livelihood, their boats, nets, barrows, braziers, tools…. They will need support not just for weeks or months but probably years. So how can we raise money in our circle of friends or communities – everyone has been coming up with ideas and many fund-raising events are already underway.
How about an official day of mourning as was declared to show sympathy with the victims of September 11th terrorist attack in New York. This time however, people might choose to contribute their day’s wages to a fund in aid of the Tsunami victims.
As this is a cookery column, I’ve been thinking of suggestions connected with food. We can all make a difference in a delicious way. Invite friends around to dinner, charge €20 - €25 and gather a few prizes together for a raffle, sell tickets and sell a bit more.
Offer to cook dinner in a friend’s house for a fee – contribute to the fund. Restaurants could consider providing a donation box by the till – every little counts.
ICA Guilds whose membership includes so many fine cooks and bakers may want to organise bring and buy sales – a cake sale after Mass or Church is always a good time to sell goodies. Coffee mornings are another way of fund-raising. Many people have spare presents from Christmas which could be used as raffle prizes.
Children may want to make rice Krispie buns, cup cakes, oatmeal biscuits. Teachers and parents will want to be involved in this effort which also teaches children to be caring and socially responsible.
Home economics classes at school might bake and sell to their classmates. Stallholders at Farmers Markets might decide to donate a percentage of their day’s takings to the disaster fund. 
Shops and supermarkets might follow suit, some have already done so. Sports clubs will no doubt have ideas for ways of raising money. Golfing and tennis friends could consider a few charity games.
I will do a fund-raising demonstration on Thursday 3rd February at Garryvoe Hotel - full details from Ballymaloe Cookery School Tel 021-4646785. 

Here are a few suggestions for recipes to get things started.

Pork with Gentle Spices

Also delicious made with chicken breast, easy to reheat, serve with fluffy rice or orzo and a good green salad.
Serves 4-6

2 pork fillets or 675g (12lb) pork leg meat

1-2 teaspoons whole cardamom pods
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
30g (1oz) butter
110g (4oz) onions, chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
150ml (3 pint) Home-made Chicken Stock 
150ml (3 pint) cream
flat parsley or coriander

Press the cardamom pods and extract the seeds, grind to fine powder with the coriander and cumin seeds in a pestle and mortar or in a spice grinder.
Melt the butter in a sauté pan, add the onion and sweat over a gentle heat until soft. Trim the pork fillets of all fat and membrane. Cut into 2cm (:inch) slices or cubes, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, toss the fillets in the ground spices. Add to the onion and sauté gently for a few minutes. Cover the pan tightly and cook in a preheated oven 150C/300F/gas mark 2 for 15-20 minutes or until the pork pieces are cooked but still nice and juicy. (It may not be necessary to put the pork in the oven if using fillet). 
Remove the pork to a serving dish and keep warm. Put the casserole back onto the heat, add the stock and cream and reduce by half. Taste and adjust seasoning, add the pork pieces back into the sauce, allow to bubble for a minute or 2. * Serve on a hot serving dish garnished with flat parsley or coriander. 
· May be prepared ahead to this point. Reheat in a saucepan over a gentle heat. 

Beef Stroganoff

Another favourite – can be whipped up in a few minutes or reheated carefully.
Serves 6 – 8

50g (2oz) butter
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion chopped finely
225g (8oz) mushrooms sliced
freshly grated nutmeg
750g (1lb 11oz) fillet of beef, cut into very thin strips
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
200ml (7fl oz) sour cream
1 teaspoon paprika, optional
salt and freshly ground pepper

Melt half the butter in a sautepan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add the chopped onions. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes approx, until the onions are soft but not colored.
While the onions are cooking sauté the mushrooms in the remaining oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Season the mushrooms with salt, freshly ground pepper and grated nutmeg.
When the onions and mushrooms are cooked remove from the pan. Melt the remaining butter in the pan. When the butter starts to foam, add the beef and stir fry over a high heat until just cooked. Add the onions and mushrooms back into the pan. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg again if needed. Stir in the mustard, paprika and finally the sour cream. Continue to cook until the stroganoff is just bubbling.
Serve with Plain Boiled Rice 

Rice Krispie Buns

Makes 18 approx.
8 ozs (225g) best quality chocolate
3 ozs (85g) Rice Krispies
18 Smarties

Paper bun cases

Break up the chocolate and melt in a bowl over simmering water. Gently stir in the Rice Krispies. Fill the mixture into paper bun cases - about a dessertspoon into each. Top with a Smartie, allow to set before you start to nibble.

Coffee Cake with Chocolate Coffee Beans
A splendid cake, keeps well too. This cake may be baked in a larger tin to make it look more like a gateau.
Serves 8-10

8 ozs (225g) butter
8 ozs (225g) castor sugar
8 ozs (225g) white flour, preferably unbleached
1 teasp. baking powder
4 eggs, preferably free range
scant 2 tablesp. coffee essence (Irel or Camp)

2" x 8" (5 x 20.5 cm) sandwich tins 

Coffee Butter Cream (see recipe)
Coffee Icing (see recipe)

Hazelnuts or Chocolate Coffee Beans (see recipe)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/regulo 4.
Line the bottom of sandwich tins, with greaseproof paper, brush the bottom and sides with melted butter and dust with flour.
Cream the butter until soft, add the castor sugar and beat until pale and light in texture. Whisk the eggs. Add to the mixture, bit by bit, beating well between each addition. 
Sieve the flour with the baking powder and stir gently into the cake mixture, finally add in the coffee essence and mix thoroughly.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared sandwich tins and bake for 30 minutes approx. in a moderate oven. When the cakes are cooked. The centre will be firm and springy and the edges will have shrunk from the sides of the tin. Rest in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto the wire rack, remove the greaseproof paper from the base, then reinvert so the top of the cakes don’t get marked by the wire rack. Cool the cakes on the wire rack. When cold sandwich the cakes together with Coffee Butter Cream and ice the top with Coffee Glace Icing . Decorate with Hazelnuts or Chocolate Coffee Beans
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Coffee Butter Cream Filling
2 ozs (55g) butter
4 ozs (110g) icing sugar (sieved)
1-2 teasp. Irel Coffee essence

Whisk the butter with the sieved icing sugar, add the coffee essence. Continue to whisk until light and fluffy.

If you would prefer to ice the cake with Coffee Butter Cream use 
8 ozs ( 225g) butter
1lb ( 450g) icing sugar
1-2 tablespoons of Irel Coffee

Coffee Icing

16 ozs (450g) icing sugar
scant 2 tablesp.Irel coffee essence
4 tablesp. boiling water approx.

Sieve the icing sugar and put into a bowl. Add coffee essence and enough boiling water to make it the consistency of thick cream.

Chocolate-covered Coffee Beans

Irresistible nibbles or great decorations for cakes, mousses, and chocolate or coffee desserts.
3 ozs (85g) dark chocolate, at least 54 per cent cocoa solids
4 tablesp. medium roast coffee beans

Melt the chocolate gently in a small bowl over a saucepan of hot water. When the chocolate is soft add the coffee beans. Stir gently to coat the beans, then lift them out with a fork and drop them one by one onto a plate or marble slab evenly covered with non-stick silicone paper. Leave to harden. Remove the beans with a palette knife and store in an air-tight jar. Alternatively, drop the wet chocolate-coated beans on to a plate or marble slab covered thickly with sieved good quality cocoa powder. Separate as above and leave to harden.

Foolproof food

Penny’s Vanilla Cupcakes

My daughter-in-law Penny is famous for her cupcakes
Makes 12

150g (5oz) butter (at room temperature)
150g (5oz) caster Sugar
150g (5oz) self raising flour
2 large eggs
2 tbsp milk
½ tsp pure vanilla extract.

Icing sugar
Freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 muffin tray lined with 12 muffin cases.

Dolly mixtures, hundreds and thousands, silver dragees, cherries and angelica, crystallized violets.

Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5.

Put all ingredients except milk into a Magimix, whizz until smooth. Scrape down sides of Magimix, then add milk and whizz again.
Divide mixture between cases in muffin tin.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 –20 mins or until risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, mix the icing sugar with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Spoon a little icing over each cupcake. Decorate with dolly mixtures, hundreds & thousands, cherries & angelica ‘’’’


Scented Geranium Cupcakes

8 medium sized Geranium Leaves.

Follow the master recipe but put the geranium leaves in to the milk and bring up to simmer. Allow to cool before adding to Magimix.
Put a crystallized rose petal on top of the icing for decoration.
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Hot Tips

Fund-raising Cookery Demonstration by Darina Allen of Ballymaloe Cookery School, for Tsunami Aid, at Garryvoe Hotel on Thursday 3rd February at 7.30pm – booking essential. Tel. 021-4646785 for details. Theme – Stress-free entertaining for family and friends.

Fresh Brocco Shoots 
A unique blend of broccoli, alfalfa, clover and radish sprouts which are crunchy to eat, have a delicate spicy flavour and contain an abundance of nutrients. Just 20g will provide you with your recommended weekly intake of the anti-cancer compound sulforaphane - delicious in sandwiches, wraps, salads, stir-fry, omelettes, as a garnish and in juices or smoothies. 

Irish Food Market Traders Association 
Is hosting a Conference in conjunction with The Farmers Journal – ‘Farmers Markets – A Positive Story’ at the Silver Springs Hotel, Cork on Monday 14th February from 10-5
For further information contact Caroline Robinson –

Training Programme for Food Producers employing less than 10 people will be held at the IRD Duhallow Training Centre, Boherbue, Co Cork, starting on 20th January.
Aim of programme is to provide food producers with the necessary skills to sustain their small business, enhance their professionalism, sustain and create employment in rural areas and acquire the know how and expertise to develop their competitiveness and ensure long term viability. Details from Isobel Fletcher, 087-9794369 email: 

Midleton Farmers Market 
Will re-open on Saturday 15th January – Happy New Year to all our customers.

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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