ArchiveMarch 2005

Spare a thought for the banana workers of Central America

Few of us who read a newspaper, listen to the radio or watch television on any kind of a regular basis, can plead ignorance about the scandalous rate of pay and dire working conditions that many people in the third world endure, to provide us with the daily luxuries that so many of us now take for granted.

Knowing what we now know it is difficult to really enjoy a cup of coffee, tea or cocoa unless one has found a Fair Trade brand. 44% of Irish people now recognise the Fair Trade label as opposed to 16% in 2002.

Not only has awareness increased, but the quality and variety of the produce has also improved enormously. Sales of some Fair Trade mark coffee and tea grew by 50% last year, its no longer just worthy, it tastes good.

Fair Trade standards also exist for sugar, lovely bananas, fresh fruit and vegetables, dried fruit, fruit juices, rice, wine, nuts and oilseeds, cut flowers, ornamental plants, cotton and sports balls.

Standards for other items, eg tropical fruit, are in development. 

Having travelled to both Guatemala and Costa Rica, and seen at first hand the conditions of the coffee and banana workers, I am acutely aware not only of the hardships they endure, but also the phenomenal amount of pesticides that are used in conventional production, so its good to see that more and more Fair Trade products are also organic.

Next time you slice a banana over your breakfast muesli, or complain about the price, spare a thought for the banana workers of Central America. 

In April 2002 I spent a couple of weeks on an eco-tourism adventure in Costa Rica. Having trudged through rainforests and whizzed passed acres of fincas, bananas will never seem quite the same again. Costa Rica is the world’s second largest banana producer. The fruit counters of the supermarkets are indeed a million miles from the banana plantations. Its so amazing to think of the journey this fruit has made to our local shop.

In recent years Costa Rica has chosen the path of eco-tourism with considerable success. This tiny country with a population similar to Ireland has about 5% of the world’s total biodiversity. This biological abundance is now safeguarded by one of the world’s most enlightened conservation programmes, consequently eco-tourism is Costa Rica’s number one earner, followed by bananas and coffee. However, pollution caused by the agro-export industry is threatening the image of the Garden of Eden.

Over this side of the world we seem to attach considerable importance to perfectly shaped, unblemished fruits. A huge cocktail of potentially dangerous chemicals are used in banana cultivation (over 50 are authorised), 20% of which serve only to improve the appearance of the fruit and are not essential for disease control.

Eco-travellers who pass through the banana plantations of Costa Rica or who take river trips, especially along the Rio Sarapiqui can’t fail to spot the ubiquitous blue plastic bags which cover the bunches of fruit on every tree. The perfect appearance of Costa Rica’s bananas is due largely to the fact that they grow inside these pesticide lined bags, some of which inevitably make their way into the rivers and lakes where they are consumed by the fish, mammals and iguanas. In fact in the Rio Tempisque basin, armadillos and crocodiles are thought to be virtually exterminated by agricultural pesticides. Fertilisers washing downstream have resulted in a proliferation of water hyacinths and reeds which have choked up channels and changed habitats, while the silt washing out to sea has destroyed much of the offshore coral reefs. Some of the blue plastic bags also float out to sea where the already endangered marine turtles mistake them for jelly fish and choke.

Unfortunately animals are not alone in being at risk from the pesticides. In 1987 a hundred Costa Rican banana plantation workers sued Dow Chemicals, Shell and Standard Fruit for producing and using a chemical which is known to cause sterility. Although they won the case in the US Courts the companies appealed. However since then several harmful pesticides have been banned, nonetheless every year 6% of all Costa Rican banana workers present claims for incidents involving exposure to pesticides, the highest such rate in the world.

On a day trip to Kekoldi Reserve, home to the indigenous Bribri Tribe, we drove on dusty mud roads through miles and miles of banana fincas. All along the way we saw people working in the plantations. Months of hard work goes into growing the crops. Today they were harvesting – chopping the still green bananas with their machetes. They carried the huge bunches to the roadside where they were piled up to be transported by mule or canoe, then by lorry to the packing station and onwards to the port at Limon where the huge big banana boats were waiting to transport them across the world.

Down by the edge of the Sarapiqui river we watched as the bananas and plantains (a larger variety) were weighed and the farmers were paid in cash on the spot. Most, then had a simple meal of beans and rice in the rustic palapa by the water’s edge before walking back to their farms.

They waved us all goodbye as we piled into wooden canoes to go body-rafting down the river. If only they knew what a bunch of bananas costs in our shops.

The good news is that the acreage of organic production is increasing in Costa Rica and more Fair Trade projects have been put in place to ensure that workers get a fair price and good work conditions.

Cork City, European Capital of Culture 2005, is hoping to be the first Irish Fair Trade City, so far Clonakilty is the only certified Fair Trade town in Ireland. The story of the commitment of the people of that town to the ethos of Fair Trade has been a remarkable example of a community working together to reach out to those who labour and harvest many of our favourite food and drinks for subsistence wages.

At present 30 towns and cities nationwide are seeking Fair Trade status. 

So we can all help by seeking out and buying Fair Trade products on a regular basis. Ask local shops and supermarkets to stock a range.

Check that your favourite cafes and restaurants are serving Fair Trade products. The Coffee Cuisine group (Kylemore Cafes) have just announced the decision to serve Fair Trade coffee, tea and hot chocolate in all of their eight branches. This in essence means 1.8 million cups a year which will make a real contribution.

Think of the difference it would make if all hospitals, canteens, offices, across the city served Fair Trade coffee and tea, biscuits, juices and chocolate. 

The price difference is very little, the feel good factor is immense.

Fairtrade Chocolate Cake

By Jane Asher
For the chocolate cake mixture:
150g/6 oz butter
150g/6 oz caster sugar, plus another 50g/2 oz for meringue
7 eggs, separated
175g/7 oz dark Fairtrade chocolate, melted
125g/5 oz self-raising flour, sifted

For the buttercream:
100g/4 oz butter, softened
175g/7 oz icing sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon of Fairtrade ground coffee, or 1½ teaspoons of Fairtrade instant coffee

For the chocolate cake:

Preheat oven to 190°C / 375°F/ Gas Mark 5. 
Grease and line the base of a deep 23cm/9 inch round cake tin. 
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in egg yolks one at a time, and then stir in the melted Maya Gold chocolate. 
Whisk egg whites until stiff, then fold in sugar to make meringue. 
Alternately fold in flour and meringue to the chocolate mix. 
Transfer mix to tin and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the cake is firm to touch and a skewer can be withdrawn cleanly. 
Leave to cool in the tin, then transfer to a cooling rack until cold. 
Split cake in half and fill with Fairtrade coffee buttercream. 
For the butter cream

Infuse the ground coffee in a tablespoon of boiled water, then strain; or dissolve the instant coffee in half a teaspoon of boiling water. 
Beat the butter until light and fluffy. 
Add the icing sugar to the mix a little at the time, beating well in between. 
Gradually beat in the coffee. 

Fairtrade Banana and Toffee Pancakes

By Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall.
Serves 4-6. 

The Batter:
225g plain flour
2 medium eggs
up to 500ml milk

The Filling:
250g good quality butter toffee (broken up if in a block)
3 tablespoons milk
10 ripe Fairtrade bananas, sliced

Sieve the flour and beat in the eggs. Beat in the milk a little at a time until the batter has the consistency of single cream. 
Put the toffee and 3 tablespoons of milk in a heavy pan. Stir constantly over a low heat until the toffee has melted and the sauce is smooth. It should be nice and hot. 
Fry the pancakes in a lightly oiled non-stick pan. When bubbles appear (after approx 1-1 ½) minutes turn the pancake. Stack them up and keep warm while you cook the rest. 
Place slices of banana down the middle of each pancake and pour over a generous amount of toffee sauce. Fold over each side of the pancake into the middle. Decorate with more banana slices and toffee sauce. 

Banana Choc Chip Muffins 
Makes 7-8 large muffins

100g plain flour
40g cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
90g unrefined (golden) Fairtrade sugar
40g melted butter
1 egg, beaten
2 ripe Fairtrade bananas, well mashed
80ml buttermilk
50g Fairtrade milk chocolate, chopped into small chunks

Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Sieve flour, cornmeal, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together into a large bowl. Stir in sugar. In a separate bowl, mix together the butter, egg, bananas and buttermilk. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix gently (do not over-mix). Fold in the chocolate chips. Fill a muffin tin (ideally lined with muffin cases) to just under the rim. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden-brown and firm to the touch. Allow to cool in the tin.

Banana Bread

I have always loved this moist, tasty banana bread. It keeps for up to two weeks in a tin but I doubt you will find this out as it will be gobbled up quickly. Serve it thickly sliced spread with soft butter.
Makes 1 large loaf

225g 8oz self raising flour
½ level teaspoon salt
110g 4oz butter
170g 6oz castor sugar
110g 4oz sultanas or seedless raisins
30g 1oz chopped walnuts, 
110g 4oz cherries, washed and halved
2 eggs, preferably free range
450g 1lb very ripe Fairtrade bananas (weighed out of skins) 

Loaf tin 24cm 9½ inches x 13.5cm 5½ inches x 5cm 2inches, lined with greaseproof or silicone paper.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/regulo 4. 

In a large wide mixing bowl sieve the flour and salt. Rub in the butter, add the sugar. Stir in sultanas or seedless raisins, the walnuts and the glace cherries. Mash the bananas with a fork, add the eggs and mix this well into the other ingredients. 

The dough should be a nice soft consistency. 

Pour the mixture into the lined tin and spread evenly. Place in the centre of a moderate oven and bake for 1½ hours. It is vital that the oven door is not opened during cooking or the banana bread will collapse. 
Cool before removing from the tin.
It is even nicer served after a day or two.

Tira Misu

Serves 8
38-40 Boudoir biscuits
8 fl oz (250 ml) strong espresso coffee (if your freshly) made coffee is not strong enough, add 1 teaspoon of instant coffee) 
2 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons Jamaica rum
3 ozs (85g) dark chocolate
3 eggs, separated, preferably free range
4 tablespoons castor sugar
9 ozs (255g) Mascarpone cheese *

Unsweetened Cocoa -Fairtrade

Dish 10 x 8 inches (25.5 x 20.5cm) with low sides or 1lb loaf tin (8 x 4 inches (20.5 x 10cm) lined with cling film

Mix the coffee with the brandy and rum. Roughly grate the chocolate (we do it in the food processor with the pulse button). Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until it reaches the 'ribbon' stage and is light and fluffy, then fold in the Mascarpone a tablespoon at a time.

Whisk the egg whites stiffly and fold gently into the cheese mixture. Now you are ready to assemble the Tira Misu.

Dip each side of the boudoir biscuits one at a time into the coffee mixture and arrange side by side in the dish or tin. Spread half the Mascarpone mixture gently over the biscuits, sprinkle half the grated chocolate over the top, then another layer of soaked biscuits and finally the rest of the Mascarpone. Cover the whole bowl or loaf tin carefully with cling film or better still slide it into a plastic bag and twist the end. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours - I usually make it the day before I use it. 

Just before serving scatter the remainder of the chocolate over the top and dredge with unsweetened cocoa.

Note: Tiramisu will keep for several days in a fridge, but make sure it is covered so that it doesn't pick up 'fridgie' tastes.

Foolproof Food

Banana Smoothie

By Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. Serves one.
"I have one of these for breakfast almost every day - and I never get bored of it."

1 large or two small Fairtrade bananas 
200ml ice cold milk (skimmed if you prefer)
1 tablespoon rolled oats (porridge oats)
2 ice cubes

Place all the ingredients in a blender and whizz for approximately one minute until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy.

Hot Tips 

What you can do to help Fairtrade

· By yourself
Choose Fairtrade Mark coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate, bananas and fruit juice when doing your weekly shopping.

· At Work
Get your workplace to change over to Fairtrade Mark tea or coffee. Fairtrade Ireland can support you with samples, leaflets etc. 

· At School
Show the Fair Comment video (available from Fairtrade Ireland), have a coffee morning, start a Fairtrade tuck shop. Contact Fairtrade Ireland if you want to organise a workshop.

· Where you live
Ask your local shop or supermarket to stock Fairtrade Mark products. Convert your favourite coffee shop to Fairtrade Mark coffee or tea. See how you can help make your city or town a Fairtrade one. 

For further information:
Fairtrade Mark Ireland, Carmichael House, North Brunswick St. Dublin 7
Tel 01-4753515
Fairtrade Cork Project, c/o Comhlamh, 55 Grand Parade, Cork. Tel. 021-4275881  

Thai ingredients –

New source of ingredients direct from Thailand for wholesalers – Sukunya Foods, PO Box 714, Togher, Cork, Tel 022 – 25941  Also available for retail purchase from Superfruit, Douglas Shopping Centre, Douglas, Cork. Tel 021-489 4179

Irish Traditional Cooking

For the past three or four weeks I’ve been taking regular phone calls from American food writers who are ‘filing their copy’ for their St Patrick’s Day columns – from Nebraska to Chicago, New York to Ohio, everyone seems to be convinced that we still live on corned beef and cabbage over here – quite disappointed to discover that many Irish people have never eaten corned beef and cabbage in their entire lives not to mention on a regular basis.

My traditional food book has just been republished in the US, it was well received the first time around in 1995, but this time is causing a real stir. There appears to be a much greater interest in Irish traditional food culture and history. They are fascinated by the stories of the food of the country houses, the simple farmhouse fare and the food of the wild – foraged in the woods and along the seashore. When I wrote that book I contacted regional newspapers, local radio stations, I explained that I felt there was an urgency to record many of the old foods, both simple and elaborate dishes that nourished our ancestors, before they were lost – many have never been written down and the older people who had memories of the food of their childhood were slipping off to Paradise.

Recipes and old cookbooks, some handwritten, came from all over the country. Many wrote nostalgic letters and reminiscences. It took me several years to collate and organise the material into a book, so many wonderful treasures and a finite number of pages. I spent many pleasurable days travelling around the country watching people cook almost forgotten foods. I stood between the cook and the bowl or saucepan with the scales to measure, weigh and record.

Traditionally geese were killed around Michaelmas, Christmas and the New Year. Every drop of blood was saved to make goose pudding. Jack O’Keeffe, whose mother originally came from the Sliabh Luachra area on the borders of Cork and Kerry, showed me how to make a goose blood pudding which had been passed down in his family for many generations. We filled the spicy mixture into the goose neck, tied the ends, pricked it with a darning needle and poached it gently for 1½ hours in a covered saucepan – I still remember the delicious flavour.

I stirred the fresh blood for puddings, chopped the soft pigs head and crubeens for brawn. The texture of those puddings was deliciously soft and crumbly, so different from the modern puddings made with imported dried pigs blood. It’s a great tragedy for Ireland that we have lost so much of our traditional food culture in recent years. There’s only a mere handful of butchers making black pudding with fresh blood nowadays. The cost of compliance with the tidal wave of regulations is putting them out of business. Who, if anyone, is batting for us in Europe – do any of our MEP’s realise that the demand for these kinds of artisan food products is growing and a growing number of discerning customers are prepared to pay more for quality. 

In the US and UK, chefs, particularly the new breed of young chefs are fascinated by the art of curing meat, pickling pork, brining bacon and hams, making sausages, salami and chorizo. The highly acclaimed chef Richard Corrigan of Lindsay House in London is famous for his black puddings, Mario Battali of Lupa and Babbo in New York has been curing meats in the time honoured way in his restaurant for several years and New Yorkers are flocking to see the results.

My own students here at the school were also anxious to learn, so Fingal Ferguson from Gubbeen Smokehouse near Schull, came and showed them how to butcher one of our own free range organic pigs. They spent a wonderful afternoon learning how to cure bacon, make sausages and salami and chorizo. We made brawn from the head and packed it into bowls like my Aunt Lil used to do when they killed a pig on the farm in Tipperary.

It’s a tremendous joy for me to find young people who are anxious to learn these almost forgotten skills and who are truly proud of our traditional food culture – a healthy and encouraging sign of a nation growing up. How about some bacon and cabbage, champ and parsley sauce for St Patrick’s Day.

Traditional Irish Bacon, Cabbage and Parsley Sauce

Our national dish of bacon and cabbage is often a sorry disappointment nowadays, partly because it is so difficult to get good quality bacon with a decent bit of fat on it.
Serves 12-15

4-5 lbs (1.8-2.25kg) loin of bacon, either smoked or unsmoked with the rind on and a nice covering of fat
Buttered or boiled cabbage
Parsley Sauce, see below

Cover the bacon in cold water and bring slowly to the boil. If the bacon is very salty there will be a white froth on top of the water, in which case it is preferable to discard the water and start again. It may be necessary to change the water several times depending on how salty the bacon is. Finally cover with hot water and simmer until almost cooked, allow 20 minutes to the pound. Remove the rind and serve with Buttered or Boiled cabbage and Parsley Sauce.

Parsley Sauce

1 pint (600ml/22 cups) milk
2 ozs (55g) roux
salt and freshly ground pepper
a few slices of carrot, optional
a few slices of onion, optional
bouquet garni
chopped parsley

If using herbs and vegetables, put them in the cold milk and bring to simmering point, season and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Strain out the herbs and vegetables, bring the milk back to the boil, whisk in the roux until the sauce is a light coating consistency. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add chopped parsley and simmer on a very low heat for 4-5 minutes.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Corned beef has a distinctive regional association with Cork City. Between the late 1680's and 1825, the beef-corning industry was the most important asset to the city and the country. In this period, Cork exported corned beef to England and much of Europe and as far away as Newfoundland and the West Indies. During the Napoleonic wars, corned beef exportation from Cork was at all time high and the British army was principally supplied with corned beef from Cork.
Although this dish is eaten less frequently nowadays in Ireland, for Irish-emigrants it conjures up powerful nostalgic images of a rural Irish past. Originally it was a traditional Easter Sunday dinner. The beef killed before the winter would have been salted and could now be eaten after the long Lenten fast with fresh green cabbage and floury potatoes. Our local butcher corns beef in the slow, old-fashioned way which, alas, is more the exception than the norm nowadays.

Serves 6-8

4 lbs (1.8kg) corned silverside of beef
3 large carrots, cut into large chunks
6-8 small onions
1 teaspoon dry English mustard
large sprig fresh thyme and some parsley stalks, tied together
1 cabbage
salt and freshly ground pepper

Put the corned beef into a saucepan with the carrot, onions mustard and the herbs. Cover gently in cold water, bring to the boil, covered and simmer for 2 hours. Discard the outer leaves of the cabbage, cut in quarters and add to the pot. Cook for a further 1-2 hours or until the meat and vegetables are soft and tender.

Serve the corned beef cut into slices surrounded by the vegetables. Serve lots of floury potatoes and freshly made mustard as an accompaniment.

Scallion Champ

A bowl of mashed potatoes flecked with green scallions and a blob of butter melting in the centre is ‘comfort’ food at its best.
Serves 4-6

1.5kg (3lb) 6-8 unpeeled 'old' potatoes e.g. Golden Wonders or Kerrs Pinks
110g (4oz) chopped scallions or spring onions (use the bulb and green stem) or 45g
chopped chives
350ml (10-12fl oz) milk
55-110g (2-4oz) butter
salt and freshly ground pepper
Scrub the potatoes and boil them in their jackets.

Chop finely the scallions or spring onions or chopped chives. Cover with cold milk and bring slowly to the boil. Simmer for about 3-4 minutes, turn off the heat and leave to infuse. Peel and mash the freshly boiled potatoes and while hot, mix with the boiling milk and onions, beat in the butter. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve in 1 large or 6 individual bowls with a knob of butte melting in the centre. Scallion mash may be put aside and reheated later in a moderate oven, 180C/350F/regulo 4. Cover with tin foil while it reheats so that it doesn’t get a skin.

Roscommon Rhubarb Tart

This delectable tart is an adaptation of a traditional recipe which was originally cooked in a bastable over the open fire – everyone adores it.
One could also add a couple of teaspoons of freshly grated ginger to the rhubarb, but try it unadorned at first, its seriously good.

Serves 8-10

900g (2lb) red rhubarb
255-285g (9-10oz) granulated sugar

310g (11oz) flour
20g (¾oz) castor sugar
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
55g (2oz) butter
1 egg
175ml (6floz) full cream milk, approx
egg wash
granulated sugar

23x5cm (9x2inch) round tin. We use a heavy stainless steel sauté pan which works very well, if you don’t have a suitable pan, par cook the rhubarb slightly first.
Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/regulo 8

Trim the rhubarb, wipe with a damp cloth and cut into pieces about 2.5cm (1inch) in length. Put into the base of a tin or sauté pan, sprinkle with the sugar. We put the stainless steel sauté pan on a low heat at this point while we make the dough.

Sieve all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Whisk the egg with the milk. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, pour in the liquid all at once and mix to a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board and roll into a 23cm (9inch) round about 2.5cm (1inch) thick. Place this round on top of the rhubarb and tuck in the edges neatly. Brush with a little egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake in the fully preheated oven for 15 minutes then, reduce the temperature to 180C/350F/regulo 4 for a further 30 minutes approx. or until the top is crusty and golden and the rhubarb soft and juicy.

Remove from the oven and allow to sit for a few minutes. Put a warm plate over the top of the sauté pan, turn upside down onto the plate but be careful of the hot juices. 

Serve warm with soft brown sugar and cream.

Spotted Dog

Makes one loaf
450g (1lb) plain white flour, preferably unbleached
1 level teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon bread soda (finely sieved)
1 dessertspoon sugar
85-110g (3-4oz) sultanas
350ml - 425 ml (12-14fl oz) approximately butter milk
1 free-range egg (your egg is part of your liquid measurement)

First fully preheat your oven to 220°C/425°F/regulo 7.

In a large mixing bowl sieve in the flour and breadsoda, add the salt, sugar and fruit. Mix well by lifting the flour and fruit up in to your hands and then letting them fall back into the bowl through your fingers. This adds more air and therefore hopefully more lightness to your finished bread. Now make a well in the centre of the flour.

Break the egg into the bottom of your measuring jug add the buttermilk to the 425ml 14floz line (your egg is part of your liquid measurement). Pour most of this milk and egg into the flour. Using one hand with the fingers open and stiff, mix in a full circle drawing in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. 

The trick with spotted dog like all soda breads is not to over mix the dough. Mix it as quickly and as gently as possible thus keeping it light and airy. When the dough all comes together, turn it out onto a well floured work surface. Wash and dry your hands. 

With floured fingers roll lightly for a few seconds just enough to tidy it up. Pat the dough into a round, pressing to about 6cm 2inches in height.

Place the dough on to a baking tray dusted lightly with flour. With a sharp knife cut a deep cross on it, let the cuts go over the sides of the bread. Prick with knife at the four triangles as according to Irish Folklore this is to let the fairies out! 

Put in to the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then turn down the oven to 200°C/400°F/regulo 6, for 35 minutes or until cooked. If you are in doubt about the bread being cooked, tap the bottom: if it is cooked it will sound hollow.

Serve freshly baked, cut into thick slices and smeared with butter and jam. Spotted Dog is also really good eaten with cheese.

Caraway Seed Cake

I hated Seed cake as a child and now its one of my great favourites, my father had a passion for it so it was always an option when we went to visit our Tipperary relations on Sunday afternoons.
6 ozs (170g) butter
6 ozs (170g) castor sugar
3 eggs, free-range if possible
8 ozs (225g) plain white flour
1 tablespoon ground almonds, optional
2 dessertspoons caraway seeds
3 teaspoon baking powder
some caraway seeds to sprinkle on top

Round cake tin 7 inches wide x 3 inches deep (18cm x 7.5cm)

Line the cake tin with greaseproof paper.

Cream the butter, add the sugar and beat until very soft and light. Whisk the eggs and gradually beat into the creamed mixture. Stir in the flour and ground almonds. Add the baking powder and 2 dessertspoons of caraway seeds with the last of the flour. Turn the mixture into the prepared cake tin, scatter a few caraway seeds on top and bake in a moderate oven, 180C/350F/regulo 4 for 50-60 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Keeps well in an airtight tin.

Foolproof Food

Buttered Cabbage

This method takes only a few minutes to cook but first the cabbage must be carefully sliced into fine shreds. It should be served the moment it is cooked.
1 lb (450 g) fresh Savoy cabbage
1-2 oz (30-55 g) butter
salt and freshly ground pepper
a knob of butter

Remove the tough outer leaves from the cabbage. Divide into four, cut out the stalks and then cut into fine shreds across the grain. Put 2-3 tablespoons of water into a wide saucepan with the butter and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, add the cabbage and toss constantly over a high heat, then cover for a few minutes. Toss again and add some more salt, freshly ground pepper and a knob of butter. Serve immediately.

Buttered Cabbage with Caraway Seeds

Add 2-1 tablesp. of caraway seeds to the cabbage, toss constantly as above.
Hot Tips

Cork St Patrick’s Festival Food Market 11am -5pm March 17th

On St Patrick’s Day from before the Parade starts until well after its finished, Oliver Plunkett St will be teeming with fresh foods gathered from all over the county (and in some cases the country). 

Fuchsia Brands from West Cork will have a strong presence with their various and varied foodstuffs,157 enterprises are accredited to the Fuchsia Brand. The principal food producers will be represented in the food market in Oliver Plunkett Street, including: O’Connell’s Chocolates, Staunton’s Black and White Pudding, Shellfish de la Mer, Mellas Fudge, Durrus Cheese and the Gubeen Smoke house.

Cork City’s own world famous English Market will also be participating along with traders from the weekly Coal Quay Market and numerous stall holders from both Farmers and Country markets will be keeping our energy levels up by providing us with the best of Irish foodstuffs.


Past Letters