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