ArchiveJune 2005

There’s fashion in food

Theres fashion in food just like everything else. Foodies are always intrigued by the latest trends on the gastronomic circuit, so every year we offer a New Trends Course for those who like to keep up to date with the culinary scene. How does one get the inside track on the hottest food trends from all over the world.

Well, I keep my ear to the ground when I travel and of course I eat in a variety of restaurants. I’m also a member of the IACP, the International Association of Culinary Professionals so I’m fortunate to have a network of people around the world from Sydney to LA and from Mexico to Capetown to tap into when I need to find out what’s happening. Spain is leading the avant garde food movement with Ferran Adria of El Bulli and his acolytes pushing the culinary boundaries. His influence is growing among chefs like Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck in Bray in the UK.

What was interesting this year was the similarity – the words organic, local and sustainable kept coming up. The Slow Food Movement continues to gather momentum worldwide. Retro food is back so we’re seeing favourites from the seventies on many trendy restaurant menus – Prawn cocktail, Chicken Maryland, Scampi, Steak with Bearnaise, even Trifle, but usually with a twist.

As ever the top innovative chefs are creating food their own style, from the elaborate and intricate multi-course tasting menus of Thomas Keller in the French Laundry in Napa Valley and Per se in New York, to the exquisitely simple fresh seasonal menus created by Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Both have their devotees – the former is an eating experience, the latter type of food is definitely a trend. Belly of Pork and offal are everywhere, I ate beef cheek and meltingly tender belly of pork at the ultra hip Gray Café in the Time Warner building in New York. It was fatter than anything even I would dare serve over here and was completely delicious. This new restaurant is much talked about not only for its food but because the kitchen has the best view in New York – some guests were peeved that the chefs have a better view than them.

Cherry Ripe from Melbourne tells me that that Wagyu beef is on every menu in Australia. Translated literally, “Wa” means Japanese, and “gyu” means cattle. The meat is deliciously marbled with fat. Wagyu is not one breed but actually four: Black, Brown, Shorthorn and polled. For a breed of cattle that didn’t exist twenty years ago, it’s becoming ubiquitous – muscling its way on to upmarket menus all over Australia. It costs 150 Australian dollars a kilo as opposed to 35 for purebred Angus. After a decade of being encouraged to think ‘lean’, chefs are in revolt. Better still, research is on their side. It now appears that while external meat fat is largely saturated, research is now showing that the internal, intramuscular fat is proportionately much more mono-unsaturated, a beneficial fat. Fifty per cent of the marbling in Wagyu beef is comprised of oleic acid, a mono-unsaturated fat. This helps explain the meat’s perceived greater “juiciness”. Wagyu are normally killed around 24-26 months (although some are kept up to 32-34 months), resulting in a ‘beefier’ taste.

Retro is also all the rage in Australia, Brunswick Street is famous for their veteran retro food, they serve 2,200 of their ‘retro brekkies’ a week at present – Bacon, Mushrooms, Tomato and Poached egg on toast with Hollandaise Sauce. Australia is also the home of Asian fusion.

Duck in any guise is very popular – braised, or with lentils….and slow roasted pork belly is also all the rage.

Zanne Stewart Food Editor of Gourmet Magazine in New York, said that when they asked about two dozen chefs around the US to send them their favourite recipes, the majority sent recipes for seafood. This would not have happened even 5 years ago, she feels its another facet of people wanting to cook things quickly. Street foods are cropping up in restaurants – sates, dosas, grilled panini sandwiches. Spanish food continues to grow in popularity – especially bocadillos and tapas, New Yorkers like small bites.

Cheese, particularly farmhouse cheese, which most Americans would scarcely let past their lips a few years ago, is now a cult food. Picholine Restaurant, Rob Kaufelt at Murray’s Cheese Shop and Steve Jenkins at Fairway are leading the way, Tom Colicchio at Craft and Craftwich has been serving family style food to packed houses for some time now.

Earlier this year April Bloomfield, formerly of the River Café, opened New York’s first gastro pub in the Village – a huge hit. New York chefs and foodies are also talking about Fergus Henderson, whose London restaurant St John, serves everything from the nose to the tail to committed foodies – this is a fascinating turn around for a country like the US, where it is rare for people eat ‘variety meats’. Maria Battali and his team continue to expand their empire of neighbourhood restaurants, Babbo, Lupa, Ino, Inoteca……Simple gutsy food, great ingredients – they have been leading the way curing their own meat, salami, prosciutto, sopressatta etc.

California used to set the food trends in the US, but according to Mary Risley of Tante Marie’s cooking school in San Francisco, after the dot.com bust and 9/11, neither the money nor the will was there any longer, people now want to go to neighbourhood restaurants or local French brasseries where they can walk to eat. Steak with bearnaise, simple pangrilled fish with lemon or beurre blanc and more recently marrow bones with parsley salad, a definite Fergus Henderson influence. Mary Risley also stressed that simplicity is the new buzzword, chefs have to be more conscious of where food is coming from and where its grown – they are increasingly linking directly with farmers and artisan producers. So chefs are talking about sustainability and Fair Trade, middle class are talking about foam.

Serious food issues are being discussed in the papers every day in the US, how pigs and chickens are being reared, conditions in the feed lots, wild salmon versus farmed salmon- this is definitely a new development, influenced no doubt by books and films such as Fast Food Nation and Super Size Me. Grass fed beef is a must – grain fed gets the thumbs down from serious chefs and foodies.

Bonnie Stern, Cooking School owner and food writer from Toronto says that big chefs are opening tapis style restaurants featuring small plates, Japanese pub style restaurants- no sushi, people want casual restaurants, more organic foods and better quality ingredients.

Alicia Wilkinson of Silwood Kitchen Cooking School in Capetown again reiterated that simplicity and organic are buzz words in South Africa’s emerging cuisine.

London is really on the cutting edge of the global food scene, some of the very best food is in gastro pubs like the Eagle and Anchor and Hope, and Borough Market is a mecca for foodies.

Other Trends –

Tea is the new coffee.

Cocktails – a huge revival

Hippest cooking method –braising meat, anything slow cooked sells – daube of beef is a best seller.

Food issues are the topic being discussed at trendy dinner parties – obesity, seed saving and loss of bio-diversity, children’s food.

Craving for forgotten flavours and skills – keeping a few chickens in your garden is the fastest growing hobby in the UK. Big demand for courses on keeping chickens, pigs and how to make your own bacon, sausage etc.

Chefs on this side of the world are following the example of their US colleagues and are employing foragers on their team so they can incorporate wild foods into their menus.

Roast Chinese Belly of Pork with Five Spice Powder and Chinese Greens

Serves 6-8
3lbs/1.3kg belly of free-range pork with rind attached
1 tbsp Szechwan peppercorns
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp Maldon or Halen Mon sea salt
2 tsp five spice powder
2 tsp castor sugar

Chinese Greens, Broccoli or Pak Choi with Oyster Sauce
1½lbs/700g sprouting broccoli, small Pak Choi or Chinese greens
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
3 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce

The day before cooking, bring a kettle of water to the boil, meanwhile pierce the skin with a skewer all over the surface, try not to penetrate the flesh. Put the pork on a wire rack on the draining board, pour the boiling water over the skin side, allow to drain, dry well.

Put the Szechwan and black peppercorns into a hot frying pan, stir around for a minute or two until they begin to smell aromatic.

Pour into a pestle and mortar or spice grinder, cool for a few minutes then grind to a fine powder. Transfer to a bowl, add the salt, five spice powder and sugar. Put onto a small tray. Rub the spice mixture well into the flesh of the pork and keep refrigerated over-night.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Mark 6.

Put a wire rack on top of a roasting tin. Half fill with water. Lay the pork skin side up on top of the wire rack. Cook for 20 minutes, lower the temperature to 180°C/350°F/Mark 4 and continue to roast for 1½ to 2 hours. When cooked through, increase the heat to 230°C/450°/Mark 8 for 15 minutes. The rind will bubble and crisp.

Remove to a warm serving plate. Meanwhile cook the vegetable. Boil or steam the sprouting broccoli, Calabreze or Pak Choi (use 3 tbsp salt to every 2 pints water) for 4-5 minutes depending on size. Mix the oils, oyster sauce and soy sauce together in a little saucepan, warm gently.
Meanwhile, slice the pork into 1½ inch square chunks, you’ll need a serrated knife. Drizzle the well-drained vegetable with the dressing. Taste, correct the seasoning. Serve the pork in deep Asian bowls with rice and vegetables.

Goat’s Cheese in Olive Oil (Queso de Cabra en Aceite)

Shepherds have traditionally made delicious mild and cured cheeses from goat’s milk. The wild herbs which the animals feed on as they ramble over the mountainside during the seasonal migrations give the cheese a slightly spicy flavour, which is accentuated by the olive oil, also seasoned with herbs. The oil keeps these small cheeses fresh and can afterward be filtered and used as a dressing or eaten with bread.
8 small goat’s cheese, with a diameter of about 2 inches (5cm)
4 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs rosemary
1tbsp fennel seeds
1tbsp black peppercorns
16fl oz (500ml) olive oil

Put the goat’s cheese in a sterilised, sealable glass jar with the herbs and peppercorns in between. Add enough oil to cover completely. Seal and leave for 1 month before eating. The oil can be used afterward to dress salads.

Spatchcock Chicken

Serves 6-8
1 free-range organic chicken
Extra virgin olive oil or butter
Chopped rosemary or thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
A few cloves of garlic

Insert a heavy chopping knife into the centre of the chicken from the back end to the neck. Press down sharply to cut through the backbone. Alternatively place the chicken breast side down on the chopping board, using a poultry shears cut along the outer length of the backbone as close to the centre as possible. Open the bird out as much as possible. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, sprinkle with chopped rosemary or thyme and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Transfer to a roasting tin. Turn skin side upwards and tuck the whole garlic cloves underneath. Roast in a preheated oven 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4 for 40 minutes approximately.

Note: cook the chicken on a wire rack over a roasting tin of roast potatoes or vegetables. Carve and serve hot with a good salad of organic leaves.

Olive Oil Ice Cream

Jeannie Chesterton gave me this interesting recipe when we spent a few blissful days at her tiny guest house in the middle of the chestnut forest near Aracena in Andalucia.
7oz (200g) castor sugar
4fl oz (125ml) water
4 eggs free-range and organic if possible 
1 glass of pale extra virgin olive oil
a pinch of salt
8fl ozs (225ml) of milk
7oz (200g) blood orange segments
Maldon Sea Salt

Put the sugar and the water into a saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar before the water comes to the boil. Continues to boil for about 5 minutes or until the syrup reaches the thread stage. Whisk the eggs in a Magimix, add the oil gradually while still running. Add the cool syrup next in a very thin stream. Finally add the salt and the milk. It’s best frozen in a sorbetiere otherwise just freeze in a covered plastic box.

Serve with blood orange segments and a few flakes of Maldon sea salt.

Foolproof food
Fruit Kebabs 
Next time you have the barbecue out try these with whatever fruit you have to hand.
Makes 16 kebabs approx.

8 Peaches or Nectarines
4 Bananas (sprinkled with fresh lemon juice)
8 Apricots
24 Cherries
16 Strawberries
Orange liqueur, Cointreau or Grand Marnier
6 - 8 ozs (170-225g) castor sugar
Whipping cream.

Cut the peaches or nectarines and apricots in halves, keep 

strawberries whole. Peel the bananas and cut into large chunks, cut each chunk into about 3 pieces and sprinkle with a little lemon juice. Mix the fruit in a bowl, sprinkle with orange liqueur, macerate for about 15 minutes. Thread the fruit on to skewers. Roll in castor sugar and barbecue for 5 - 8 minutes or until they start to caramelize. Serve immediately with a little softly whipped cream. For real excitement pour some of the liqueur over each set it alight and serve immediately. Otherwise just drink the marinade with the kebabs later on!

Variations
Cut Apple kebabs
Dessert apples cut into large chunks, or quarters 
sprinkle with lemon juice 

Just before cooking toss in or paint with melted butter sprinkle with castor sugar and thread on skewers and grill for 5 - 8 minutes or until golden and caramelized.

Note: The fruit can also be cooked in tin foil parcels over the barbecue if you wish.

Hot Tips

The spirit of innovation and diversity is alive and well in the craft butcher sector.
The annual competition to find Ireland’s best butchers’ sausages got underway in recent weeks with regional competitions in Mallow, Nenagh, Carrick-on-Suir and Kill, Co Kildare – there was a wide range of innovative speciality sausages, traditional ‘breakfast sausages’, black and white puddings and drisheen –judging by members of the Irish Guild of Foodwriters - full results on www.craftbutchers.ie ACBI Chief Executive Pat Brady said that entries in the competition were up this year reflecting recognition of increased demand by consumers for something ‘that little bit different’.

National Finals will be held at the Retail Foodshow (incorporating Butchershow) at City West Hotel on 6th November – 

Growing Awareness – Sunday 3rd July – Manch Demesne, Dunmanway, Co Cork
At Manch The Irish Natural Forestry Foundation has established, in conjunction with the owner, a centre of excellence to demonstrate and promote Irish natural forestry that is economically as well as socially and environmentally beneficial. Manch Demesne lies three miles east of Dunmanway on the R586 road. Watch for INFF signs on the left when you reach the wooded tunnel. From Bandon, the Demesne lies half a mile beyond the Carbery milk factory on the right in the wood tunnel. Contact Ian Wright on 028-21889

Vermilion, an Indian-Fusion restaurant in the heart of Terenure Village in Dublin launched the annual Vermilion Indian Summer Festival on Mid-Summer’s Day. The festival takes place every Tuesday and Wednesday until 14th September. A new menu is introduced every four weeks in which Vermilion samples the diverse dishes from India’s five regions each week. At €38 for four courses and a half bottle of wine, this is expected to be popular with fusion fans this summer – to reserve a table call 01-499 1400 or email:
mail@vermilion.ie  www.vermilion.ie  

Union Hall Vintage Festival, West Cork, 7th August
On Sunday August 7th Union Hall will have a Vintage Day with music and stalls selling various products including food. Any small food producer interested in setting up a stand should contact Con Hurley at 028 34820/33088 cohurley@eircom.net

It was the cream that really turned them into a feast

I have just eaten a wonderful bowl of lightly mashed new season strawberries sprinkled liberally with castor sugar and anointed with cream.
So what’s remarkable about that?
Well, for a start I ‘don’t do strawberries’! I’m thoroughly bored of huge tasteless berries from January to December, so I manage to avoid them virtually the whole year, apart from a few weeks in summer. Even then they are rarely worth getting excited about, unless one can find some of the older varieties that haven’t been irrigated on a daily basis, they are scarcely worth bothering about.

Problem is, I can vividly remember what strawberries used to taste like. I remember the agonising wait for them to ripen in the little strawberry patch in our garden. There were never enough to have even a little feast. I remember my friend Bernie and I desperately trying to work out some diversionary tactics to distract Mrs Cody in Tubberloe so she wouldn’t spot us through the back kitchen window as we tried to sneak into her vegetable garden. Of course she caught us and ‘put the run on us’ as the expression went.

Other wonderful memories of summer holidays come flooding back, on my great uncle’s farm in Tipperary Aunt Lil would send us off up the bog lane with little tin ‘ponnies’ to collect wild strawberries to sprinkle over a sheet of tender sponge. The intense flavour of those tiny berries still lingers in my taste memory.

The strawberries I have just eaten were unusually flavoursome, I bought them in Lynda O’Neill’s shop in Leap. There they were sitting beside the till so I succumbed to temptation. They were local strawberries grown commercially by David Busby at Inchinatin near Rosscarbery. 

The strawberries themselves were good but it was the cream that really turned them into a feast, gorgeous thick rich Glenilen cream. This is cream like it used to taste, luxurious artisan double cream produced by Alan and Valerie Kingston on their family farm in Drimoleague. I was blown away by the flavour and texture – this is cream like I remember, rich cream that would whip up in seconds, but so thick that I usually prefer to serve it in a little jug so I can pour it slowly over my berries, rice pudding or pinhead oatmeal porridge.

This is quality cream that has now almost become a forgotten flavour – shame on us in a country that has the capacity to produce the very best dairy products in the world from our lush green grass, yet so often by the time the cream gets on the shelves of our shops its thin and flavourless.

I feel deeply grateful to the Kingstons for giving us an alternative, it costs more because it is better – real food with a story.

Aunt Lil’s Wild Strawberry Sponge
Serves 8

5 eggs, preferably free range
5 ozs (140g) castor sugar
5 ozs (140g) plain white flour
12 fl ozs (350ml) cream
¾ -1 lb (350-450g) wild strawberries or Fraises du Bois
castor sugar

1 Swiss roll tin 9 inches x 12 inches (23cm x 30.5cm)

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/regulo 5.

Line the bottom and sides of the Swiss roll tin with greaseproof paper. Brush the paper with melted butter, dust with a little extra flour and castor sugar.

Sieve the flour. Put the eggs and castor sugar into a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk the mixture until it is light and fluffy. Take it off the heat and continue to whisk until the mixture is cool again. (If using an electric mixer, no heat is required). Sieve in about one-third of the flour at a time and fold it into the mixture using a large spatula or metal spoon.

Pour the mixture gently into the tin. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes. It is cooked when it feels firm to the touch in the centre. The edges will have shrunk in slightly from the sides of the tin. Lay a piece of greaseproof paper on the work top and sprinkle it evenly with castor sugar. Turn the sponge onto a sheet of greaseproof paper. Remove the tin and greaseproof paper from the bottom of the cake, allow to cool. 

Meanwhile whisk the cold cream until softly whipped. When the cake is cold, spread whipped cream over the top, cover with wild strawberries, sprinkle with castor sugar and serve.

Coeur a la Creme with Summer Fruits

A most exquisite summer pudding. You may use one large mould or individual moulds. In France they are traditionally heart-shaped. The moulds must be well perforated to allow the cheese to drain. Also delicious with a Compote of Blackcurrants or Green Gooseberry and Elderflower Compote.
Serves 4

225g (8oz) unsalted cream cheese or home made cottage cheese
300ml (½pint) softly whipped thick double cream
2 tablespoons castor sugar
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Accompaniment
Summer berries, frais du bois, strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, blackberries, redcurrants, blueberries……

300ml (½pint) cream, softly whipped
castor sugar

Garnish
mint leaves

Press the cheese through a fine meshed nylon sieve and blend it gently with the double cream. Stir in the sugar and lightly but thoroughly fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites. Turn the mixture into muslin lined heart shaped moulds. Stand them on a wide plate, cover with a large plastic bag and leave in the refrigerator overnight to drain. 

Just before serving, turn the moulded cheese hearts out on to white plates. Scatter a selection of summer fruits around the cheese hearts.

Serve with a Strawberry, Raspberry or Blackcurrant Coulis, (see Foolproof Food) softly whipped cream and castor sugar.

Note: If you have not got the traditional heart shaped moulds, one can make Coeur a la Creme in a muslin lined bread basket or even a sieve.

Poached Blackcurrants with Icy Cold Cream

12oz ( 340g) blackcurrants, strings removed
Stock Syrup
2oz (55g) sugar
2floz (55 ml) water

Icy cold cream

To make the stock syrup: dissolve the sugar in the water over a gentle heat and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes and allow to cool. May be stored in the fridge until needed.

Cover the blackcurrants with stock syrup. Bring to the boil and cook until the fruit bursts - this will take about 4 to 5 minutes. Serve with warm shortbread biscuits and icy cold cream.

Shortbread Biscuits

Just three ingredients – 2-4-6, sugar, butter and flour, but so versatile. Serve with fruit fools, compotes and ice creams. Or use to make an instead of pudding by sandwiching together with fruit or berries and sweetened cream. Strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, boysenberries, peaches, nectarines or kiwi. Even bananas would be delicious drizzled with Toffee Sauce.
Makes 25

6 ozs (170g) white flour
4 ozs (110g) butter
2 ozs (55g) castor sugar

Put the flour and sugar into a bowl, rub in the butter as for shortcrust pastry. Gather the mixture together and knead lightly. Roll out to ¼ inch (7mm) thick. Cut into rounds with a 2½ inch (6cm) cutter or into heart shapes. Bake in a moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4 to pale brown, 8-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the biscuits. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Note: Watch these biscuits really carefully in the oven. Because of the high sugar content they burn easily. They should be a pale golden colour - darker will be more bitter.

Strawberry Shortbreads
Makes 8-10

Ingredients as above
1lb (450g) fresh strawberries
whipped cream, sweetened

Stamp the shortbread dough into 2½ inch (6cm) rounds or heart-shapes.
Bake as above

When cool, sandwich two biscuits together with sliced strawberries and sweetened cream.
Dust with icing sugar and decorate with whole strawberries and a sprig of sweet cicely.
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Raspberry, Nectarine and Melon Salad
Serves 6

2 ripe nectarines or peaches
4-6 oz (110-170 g) fresh raspberries
½ Ogen melon or 2 bananas
Castor sugar
Freshly squeezed lemon juice

Slice the peaches into ¼ inch (5 mm) thick slices (peel the peaches first if using). Put into a bowl with the raspberries. Scoop the melon flesh into balls or ½ inch (1 cm) dice and add a good sprinkling of castor sugar and the juice of 1 or 2 lemons. If using bananas slice and add to the salad just before serving. A little freshly chopped mint would be delicious too.

Variations:
Raspberry, Nectarine, Melon and Blueberry Salad
Add 4ozs of fresh blueberries to the above recipe

Raspberry, Nectarine and Blueberry Salad
Omit melon and add 8ozs of blueberries instead

Summer Fruit Jelly with Sweet Geranium Cream

Makes 9-10 ramekins
450g (1lb) summer fruit eg.
225g (2lb) fresh raspberries
110g (3lb) fraises du bois or tiny strawberries
110g (3lb) blueberries or blackcurrants 

Syrup
225ml (8fl oz) water
225g (8oz) sugar
4 sweet geranium leaves (Pelargonium Graveolens)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 rounded teaspoons gelatine
3 tablespoons water

Sweet Geranium Cream

4-5 sweet geranium leaves approx.
1 tablespoon lemon juice
150ml (6fl oz) cream
sugar to taste, optional

ramekins, 255-285ml (9-10fl oz) capacity

Put the cold water, sugar and sweet geranium leaves into a stainless steel saucepan, bring slowly to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes, allow to cool, add freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Brush the moulds lightly with non-scented vegetable oil. Alternatively line the moulds with cling film. Sponge the gelatine in two tablespoons of water, then place the bowl in a saucepan of simmering water until the gelatine is completely dissolved. Remove the sweet geranium leaves from the syrup, pour the syrup onto the gelatine and then add the fruit, stir gently. Fill into the lined moulds. Put into the fridge and leave to set for 3-4 hours.

Meanwhile make the sweet geranium cream.

Crush the leaves in a pestle and mortar with the lemon juice, add the cream and stir, (the lemon juice will thicken the cream, if the cream becomes too thick add a little water.)

Taste, if too bitter add a little sugar, remember the sauce should be tart.

To assemble:

Spread a little sweet geranium cream onto a white plate, turn out a jelly and place in the centre. Place 3-5 tiny sweet geranium leaves on the cream. Decorate with a few perfect raspberries, serve chilled.

Raspberry Jelly with Mint
Substitute raspberries for the mixture of summer fruit, add a teaspoon of framboises liqueur to the syrup if available. Substitute mint for sweet geranium in both the syrup and cream.

Loganberreis are exquisite used in the same way.

Strawberry and redcurrant tart

Serves 6
Shortcrust pastry:

4 ozs (110g) flour
3 ozs (85g) butter
1 dessertsp. icing sugar
pinch of salt
1 small egg, preferably free range, beaten

7 inch (18cm) flan ring or tart tin with removable base

Filling

12-15 ozs (340-450g) Strawberries,(eg. El Santa), (Raspberries, Loganberries, Blueberries, Blackberries or a mixture could also be used.)

4-6 tablesp. redcurrant jelly

Decoration:

3 pint (150ml) cream, whipped
fresh mint or lemon balm leaves

Make the shortcrust pastry. Line the flan ring and decorate the edges. Line the pastry with kitchen paper and fill with dried beans. Bake blind in a moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4 for 20-25 minutes.

Remove paper and beans, paint the base of the tart with a little beaten egg and replace in the oven until completely cooked - 5-8 minutes. Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack.

To finish: Warm the redcurrant jelly. Paint the base of the tart with the jelly and arrange the strawberries on top, either whole or in slices. Paint the fruit so that it all looks beautifully shiny. The jelly not only glazes the fruit but also adds a delicious bitter-sweet flavour.

Decorate with tiny rosettes of cream and mint or lemon balm leaves.

Note: This tart shell can be used for many other types of fruit, eg. kiwi fruit, peeled and pipped grapes, bananas, plums, peaches or nectarines. Brush with apricot glaze if yellow or green fruit is used.

Raspberry and Rose Blossom Fool

Serves 8
Strawberries can also be substituted here.

1lb (450g) fresh raspberries
castor sugar
½ pint (300ml) softly whipped cream
¼ pint (150ml) natural yoghurt
1 -2 teaspoons rose blossom water
a few extra raspberries
Lady Finger (Boudoir) biscuits, optional

Whizz the raspberries in a food processor with the sugar and rose blossom water. Sieve if the pips bother you – I usually do.

Fold in most of the cream and yoghurt. Taste and add a little more sugar, and cream or yoghurt if necessary. The texture should be soft, like barely whipped cream.

Serve in chilled glasses with a few fresh raspberries and rose petals scattered over the top.

Foolproof Food

Fruit Coulis

Delicious with ice-cream
Raspberry Coulis
8 ozs (225 g) Raspberries
3-6 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons water
Lemon juice - optional

Make a syrup with sugar and water, cool and add to the raspberries. Liquidise and sieve, taste, sharpen with lemon juice if necessary. Store in a fridge.

Strawberry Coulis

Serves 8
14 ozs (400 g) Strawberries
2 ozs (55 g) icing sugar
Lemon juice

Clean and hull the strawberries, add to the blender with sugar and blend. Strain, taste and add lemon juice if necessary. Store in a fridge.
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Hot Tips

Glenilen make double cream, clotted cream, country butter, cheesecake, yogurt with fruit compote in a glass, all from the milk of their own Friesian dairy herd, they are also introducing some Jersey cows to the herd to increase the butter fat. Valerie says the name comes from the River Ilen which runs through the farm, they started making these delicious value-added products to enable them to stay farming viably on their own land. 

Glenilen products are available from the following outlets in the Cork area – O’Herlihy’s on Wellington Road, Food Fair in Douglas, O’Donovans in Wilton, O’Driscolls in Ballinglough and Super-Valu in Carrigaline and Midleton. www.glenilen.com  Tel. 028-31179

Summer Fruit - Raspberries, boysenberries, loganberries, tayberries are now coming into season also so plan to enjoy them as often as possible during the true berry season.

David Busby, Rosscarbery 023-38140. John Howard, Sunnyside Fruit Farm, Rathcormac, 025-36253

Cork Summer Show – June 18/19 Cork Showgrounds, Ballintemple
Farmers Market, Traditional Crafts Hall and much, much more….

Pasture to Plate – The Art of Cheesemaking – Shelburne Farms, Shelburne, Vermont, USA 5-7 September.
For budding cheese makers, enthusiasts and food lovers – an in depth introduction to the world of artisan cheese – 3 day course – for details contact Hilary Sunderland or Caitlin Fay at 00 82 985 8498

100% Health Weekend with Patrick Holford June 25 & 26, 9.30-5.30
Transform your diet, your health, your life! At the Cultivate Sustainable Living Centre, 15-19 Essex St West, Temple Bar, Dublin 8. Details from 01-6745773 or john@sustainable.ie

East meets West at the tsunami

The Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami of 26 December 2004 was an unprecedented, global, catastrophe, the largest natural disaster to which the United Nations has had to respond in 60 years.

It affected millions of people in 12 countries, spanning two continents and tens of thousands of visitors from forty nations around the world.

We will never know the exact magnitude of how many men, women and children perished on 26 December, but the figure is likely to exceed two hundred and twenty thousand.

As time passes, it is easy to forget that millions in Asia, Africa, and India, are still suffering unimaginable trauma and psychological wounds. Families have been torn apart. Whole communities have disappeared. Places of worship have been wiped out. People’s anchors and values have been swept away – so many people are still desperate for help.

Last week I was reminded of this when I was present at the launch of a celebrity charity cookbook East Meets West, compiled by two remarkable women, Barbara Jayson and Jenny de Montfort. 

Barbara trained as a nurse at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. She lived for many years in South East Asia and whilst living in Indonesia started a charity: ‘The Foundation for Mother and Child Health’. Her long term ambition is to grow the Foundation into a sustainable network using the same transparent and measurable business model that proved so successful in Indonesia. Barbara was awarded an MBE for her work in Indonesia in 2004.

Jenny’s family come from Guernsey, but she was born in Sri Lanka and grew up in Nigeria and Cameroon. After university she worked in the wine trade in Bordeaux and London. She married her husband Roger in 1992 and after starting a family spent a happy year marketing fine chocolate, to taste in the same way as a fine wine.

Her husband’s job then took the family to South Africa, Indonesia, Singapore and now back to London. Whilst in Indonesia she and a friend compiled a successful cookbook for charity which inspired this book.

All the profits from the sale of the book will go to charities in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, the two countries most affected by the tsunami of 26 December 2004, and with which the producers of the book, Barbara Jayson and Jenny de Montfort, have close personal links.

As Jenny had experience of the wine and food trade in the UK, Barbara suggested that they should team up to produce a book using recipes from a wide range of leading Asian and Western cooks and chefs.

The first person Barbara called was Nigella Lawson, and, though she does not know it, Nigella became the lynch pin of the whole project. Using her contacts in the wine trade Jenny got in touch with a number of leading wine writers and again the response was positive. In addition, photographers, agents, PA’s and publishers all donated freely of their time, material and knowledge. In the end well over a hundred people from around the UK, France, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Australia worked together to produce the book in record time.

East meets West – Celebrity charity cookbook, compiled by Barbara Jayson and Jenny de Montfort, published by Accent Press Ltd. 2005.

www.tsunami-charitybook.com  www.motherandchildhealth.org  

Grapefruit and Prawn Salad – Bill Granger – from East Meets West

Serves 4
2 ruby grapefruit or 2 grapefruit and 1 pomelo
40g (¼ cup) cashews
20 cooked prawns, peeled and deveined
20g (1 cup) mint leaves
1 small butter lettuce, washed and dried
dressing – see below

To serve – steamed rice

Peel the grapefruit by slicing off both ends. Stand the end of the fruit on a board, and following the curves of the grapefruit, slice off all the peel with a sharp knife. Make sure the pith is also removed. Set aside. Place a frying pan over a high heat and when hot, add the cashews. Cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly roasted. Remove from the heat and roughly chop. Set aside.

Place the grapefruit, prawns and mint in a bowl. Add the dressing and toss to combine. Arrange the lettuce leaves on a large serving plate, or divide between four plates. Top with the salad and sprinkle with the roasted cashews. Serve with steamed rice.

Dressing
60ml (¼ cup) fish sauce
60ml (¼ cup) lime juice
2 tbsp. brown sugar
3 red Asian shallots, or ½ rd onion, finely sliced
2 small red chillies, finely chopped

Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Take from Bill’s Open Kitchen published by Murdoch Books 2003.

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

– Caroline Waldegrave
We made this soup today with some aged butternut squash and it was still absolutely delicious.

1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp Thai green curry paste
2 medium sized butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
500ml/17½ fl.oz good quality chicken stock
1 x 400ml/14 fl.oz can coconut milk
2 tbsp. Thai basil, shredded
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the garnish
Crème fraîche
Chopped fried pancetta

Sweat the onion slowly in the oil for 10 minutes.
Add the Thai curry paste and continue to cook over a low heat for 2 minutes.
Add the butternut squash, chicken stock and coconut milk, bring up to the boil, season with salt and pepper and simmer until the squash is soft. This may well take up to 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and whiz in batches, and return to the rinsed out saucepan. Taste and season as required.
Reheat the soup and add the basil just before serving.
Pour into warmed soup bowls and serve with a spoonful of crème fraîche and the chopped pancetta.

Thai-style Chicken and Mango Salad

- Diana Henry
To be strictly Thai you can leave out the watercress and increase the quantity of herbs. If you can’t find green mangoes, or prefer to eat ripe ones, you can use 1 ripe mango and 1 tart green apple (core removed). As well as sourness the green mangoes provide crunch so an apple is a fine substitute
Serves 4

4 chicken fillets (skinned)
salt and pepper
groundnut oil
6 spring onions, sliced
8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
2 medium-sized unripe mangoes
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp castor sugar
juice of 1½ limes
3 long red chillies
50g fresh coriander
40g fresh mint leaves
50g watercress leaves
1½ tbsp roughly chopped roasted peanuts

Lightly season the chicken breasts and saute them in 2 tbsp groundnut oil until cooked through. Leave to cool.

Saute the spring onions, using a little more oil if you need to, in the same pan and put them in a broad flat bowl. Quickly fry the slices of garlic until golden – be really careful not to burn them. Add these to the bowl as well.

Cut the flesh from the mangoes – there is no need to peel it – and cut into lengths about the thickness of two matchsticks. Put these in the bowl along with the fish sauce, sugar and lime juice. Halve and deseed the chillies and slice them finely. Add to the bowl.

Finally cut the chicken into strips and add to the bowl with the herbs, watercress and 3½ tbsp of groundnut oil. Mix everything together. Scatter the roasted peanuts over the top and serve.

Green Thai Fish Curry

– Sonia Stevenson
Thai curries are incredibly easy to make, very quick to cook and totally delicious. The secret is in the mixture of spices and the freshness of the pastes which are traditionally made with a pestle and mortar. Alternatively make the paste in a food processor using ground spices.
Serves 4

Spice Paste

1 onion sliced
3 garlic cloves cut up
6 small hot green chilli deseeded and sliced
5cm fresh ginger scraped and sliced
1 tsp white pepper ground
1 tsp coriander ground
½ tsp cumin ground
1 tsp shrimp paste (belacan)
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 stalk of lemon grass peeled and sliced thinly
750g fish fillets, such as cod, haddock, John Dory or other firm fish
1 tbsp of peanut oil
400ml coconut milk
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

To serve

Sprigs of Thai basil
2 limes, quartered
fragrant Thai rice or noodles

Place all the spice paste ingredients in the food processor and work them into a fine puree. Set aside.

Put the oil into a wok and heat well. Add the spice paste and stir fry for a few seconds to release the aromas. Add the thick portion from the top of the coconut milk, stir well and boil to thicken a little.

Add the fish and turn the pieces over in the sauce until they are well coated. Reheat to simmering point and cook until they start to become opaque. About two minutes.

Add the remaining coconut milk and chopped coriander and continue cooking until the fish is ready. Serve topped with Thai basil plus the halved limes and fragrant Thai rice or noodles.

Taken from ‘Casseroles’ published by Ryland Peters and Small 2001

Chilli Jam Beef Stir-fry

– Donna Hay
Serves 4

6 large mild red chillies, seeds removed
1 tbsp roughly chopped ginger
1 onion, quartered
3 tsp shrimp paste
⅓ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
650g (21oz) beef strips
4 green onions (scallions), sliced
200g (7oz) green beans, trimmed

Place the chillies, ginger, onion, shrimp paste, sugar and oil in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat and add the chilli paste. Cook, stirring, for 5-7 minutes or until the mixture is thick and fragrant. Add the beef to the pan and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the green onions and beans, cover and cook for a further 3 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Taken from The Instant Cook published by Harper Collins 2004

Oriental Style Sticky Lamb Chops

– Gary Rhodes
Serves 4

8 chump lamb chops
320g (11oz) jar plum sauce
4 tsp clear honey
4 tsp dark soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2.5cm (1 inch) ginger, chopped
2 spring onions, cut into 2.5cm long pieces
2 red chillies, finely chopped
250g (9oz) packet egg noodles
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 spring onions for curling
227g (8oz) can water chestnuts , drained and roughly chopped
227g (8oz) can bamboo shoots, drained
1 red chilli, finely sliced

Pre heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7
Mix half the plum sauce with the honey, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, spring onions and half the chopped chillies.

Place the chops in a roasting tin and coat with the sauce. Marinate for 3-4 minutes.
Roast in the oven for 12-15 minutes, turning once.

Drop the noodles into boiling water and cook until tender. Then toss them in sesame oil with spring onion curls, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots.
Serve the lamb on the noodles with the sauce spooned over the top. 
Garnish with chilli slices.

Note: to make spring onion curls, soak shredded spring onions in iced water
Taken from Great Fast Food published by Ebury Press 2000

Winter Charlotte with Rhubarb and Raspberries

– Rose Prince
Serves 6

about 8 slices of day-old white bread, crusts removed (save them for breadcrumbs)
softened unsalted butter
ground cinnamon
700g/1½ lb forced rhubarb, cut into 2cm/¾ inch lengths
400g/14oz frozen raspberries
golden caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ Gas Mark 6. 

Butter the bread slices and sprinkle with a little cinnamon. Cut each slice into quarters, then into 8 small triangles.

Put the rhubarb and raspberries into a pan, cover and cook over a low heat until the rhubarb is just soft. Add enough sugar to sweeten to your taste, then pour into a shallow ovenproof dish. Arrange the triangles of bread on top, buttered side up, working in a fish scale pattern. Bake the charlotte for about half an hour until the surface of the bread is golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle caster sugar on top. Serve with fresh custard or thick double cream.
© Rose Prince 2005

Warm Banana Tarte Tatin

– James Martin
Serves 6-8

500g (1lb 2oz) bought puff pastry, thawed if frozen
250g (9oz) caster sugar
25g (1oz) butter, softened
leaves stripped from 1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
8 ripe bananas

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and cut into a 25cm (10 inch) round. Prick all over with a fork, then leave to rest in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

Place the sugar in a heavy-based saucepan and melt slowly over a very low heat until it turns a mid-caramel colour. You might like to add 1 tbsp. of water to help it on its way, but most chefs don’t. It is vital not to allow the syrup to bubble even around the edge until all the sugar grains have dissolved, otherwise the mixture will become grainy.

It can help to brush the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, to prevent any stray sugar grains from causing the syrup to crystallize.

As soon as the sugar turns a mid-caramel colour, plunge the pan base into a sink of cold water to halt the browning. It will spit alarmingly, so make sure that your arm is well covered. Beat in the butter until the mixture turns to a buttery caramel. Pour the caramel into an oven-proof frying pan, or 23cm (9inch) shallow cake tin, turn and evenly coat the bottom and sides with the caramel.

Heat the oven to 190C (375F) gas mark 5.

Sprinkle the chopped rosemary over the surface of the caramel, then slice the bananas on top. Finally, place the pastry round over the sliced bananas, pressing the edges down the sides of the filling all the way round.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden. Remove carefully from the oven to prevent spilling the hot caramel.

Allow to stand for a few minutes before carefully inverting on to a serving plate.
Cut into wedges to serve.

Foolproof Food

Spring Cabbage Soup

Its worth taking care to preserve the bright green colour of green soups like this. First, remember not to overcook the green vegetables, many greens – lettuce, kale, cabbage, spinach, watercress for instance, cook very quickly, so they should not be added until the base vegetables are fully cooked in the stock. The boil the soup rapidly without the lid on for only a few minutes until the greens are just cooked. Whizz in a blender and serve immediately or cook quickly and reheat just before serving. Green soups lose their fresh colour if they are kept hot indefinitely.
Serves 6 

55g (2ozs) butter
115g (4ozs) onions, chopped 
130g (5ozs) chopped potatoes
250g (9ozs ) chopped spring cabbage leaves (stalks removed)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
900 ml (1½ pints) light chicken stock
50-125ml (2-4 fl ozs) cream or creamy milk

First prepare all the vegetables, then melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. When it foams, add the potatoes and onions and turn them in the butter until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Add the stock (heat it if you want to speed things up) and boil until the potatoes are soft. Add the cabbage and cook with the lid off until the cabbage is just cooked - a matter of 4 or 5 minutes. Keep the lid off to retain the green colour. Do not overcook or the vegetables will lose both their fresh flavour and colour. Puree the soup in a liquidiser or blender. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add the cream or creamy milk before serving. 

If this soup is to be reheated, just bring it to the boil and serve. Prolonged boiling will spoil the colour and flavour.
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Hot Tips 

Silke Cropp who makes the sublime Corleggy Cheese in Belturbet, Co Cavan, introduced us to the new farmhouse cheese Wicklow Blue, made by John Hempenstall in Curranstown, near Arklow. 

It’s a soft blue Brie cheese with a downy rind, made with vegetarian rennet from pasteurised milk from his own Friesian herd. John has 55 cows and milks all year round so has a continuous supply of cheese. Great to have a new farmhouse cheese to enjoy at a time when Bord Bia are also crying out for new specialist products to fill the demand for artisan foods. Available from Sheridans, Horgans, Urru in Bandon, Classical Taste in Carrigaline. John also supplies some of Ireland’s top restaurants. Tel. 0402-91713

Grow your own Vegetables – well known gardening writer Joy Larkcom will teach a course on Creative Vegetable Gardening at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Saturday 25th June – 9.30-5pm Tel 021-4646785

Growing Awareness – walk on Sam Sweetnam’s farm at Clohane Skibbereen on Sunday 19th June at 3pm. 
Extensive areas of ancient oak and beech woodland on a dairy farm and productive orchard , with a range of apple varieties. The walk includes the neighbouring woodland, 9 year old broadleaf plantation and vegetable garden. Contact Paul McCormick at 028 23742. www.growingawareness.org 

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